When we find beauty we find ourselves

If we goggle the word beauty we will get 527,000,000 references. If we ignore the wikipedia and dictionary entries the rest are mainly about beauty products.

An aesthetician today is not someone who studies a branch of philosophy but someone who applies face creams.

We would be left thinking that indeed beauty is only skin deep.

But we know that isn’t true. Beauty is a value, like justice. We need it and it runs deep, to the core of our being. In fact to the core of how the universe functions.

I’m an artist, a painter. Last year I taught a painting workshop to a dozen students. I had returned to the same area for four years. So most of the students were now friends as well as students. I felt comfortable and open with them.

They asked me to give some concluding remarks after lunch on the last day.  I talked about finding voice, courage and not getting buried and distracted by technical considerations at the expense of the real juice that fired them to paint.

Then I talked of beauty and trying to find it and give expression to it. And I started to cry.

It surprised me. I suppose it embarrassed me also. I don’t normally cry in public if movie theatres can be considered private.

I realized at that moment a fundamental need and connection we all have to beauty. I realized also I needed to look at it, to explore it. I needed to look at in relation to making art. But also independent of art. That is the purpose of this blog. Here are a few interconnected and important things about beauty:

  1. beauty is hard to truly give expression to. Lord knows, I have tried
  2. beauty runs really deep spiritually and emotionally
  3. we need beauty, particularly in a society so dominated by economic efficiency which is capable of spewing such ugliness and waste
  4. art may not be the best place to look for beauty, as least not today’s art. In fact the natural union of art and beauty that existed for centuries split in the early 20th century, although no one told the public
  5. subjective beauty exists — beauty does lie in the eye of the beholder
  6. objective beauty exists — mathematicians look to aesthetics, the rightness of a theory, as an indication of its truth
  7. nature teems in elegant structures and patterns
  8. beauty exists in the old and decaying perhaps more than the new and shiny
  9. beauty is slow; fashion and style fast
  10. you cannot experience beauty if you are rushed, distracted or angry
  11. beauty surrounds us always if we have the eyes to see it
  12. beauty makes you present. When you experience beauty (as opposed to thinking about or looking for it) you have no desire to be elsewhere.

This blog then is one artist’s search for beauty. A weekly post of exploration, thoughts, images and videos. Once you start to look you realize beauty’s threads stitch into everything, including ourselves and how we perceive the world around us.

Beauty is indeed truth and truth beauty and perhaps that is all we need to know.

Next post: March 23, 2012.


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