Defining the Visual Arts Essay

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Visual art encompasses everyday life. Many pieces of visual fine art are available for the average consumer to purchase through reproductions and local fine artists. Visiting local festivals, museums, and galleries provides fine art for viewing. Taking classes in the medium of choice allows for further development of a critical eye for fine visual art and development of my own experience in the medium. Visual arts and functional arts vary, according to Paul Zelanski and Mary Pat Fisher, since the visual artists design pieces for people to look at (Zelanski, & Fisher, 1996).

Visual arts relate to such mediums of art including drawing, printmaking, sculpture, photography, and painting, according to Zelanski and Fisher (Zelanski, & Fisher, 1996). The visual arts serve the purpose of providing aesthetically pleasing or symbolical pieces of art for look. Artists design visual art for several reasons including for themselves and communicating to others. Visual arts differ from other forms of creative expression due to the form of expression. Visual arts, including sculpture, provide aesthetics for decoration in comparison to performing arts.

The appreciation of fine arts provides the enhancement of an interior room or location. A piece of art could be a painting that hangs upon the wall or a sculpture that stands on a pedestal. These pieces of fine art provide a pleasing object for the focus of attention whenever anyone enters the room. The function of fine visual arts adds to the setting of the room. A painting can draw a person’s eye easily toward it and provide color. An artistic performance includes theatre in which a person or group of people perform a play or monologue. This type of creative expression focuses on behavior and human aspects.

Visual arts differ from performing art since the art does not involve a performance. The art is static in visual arts and viewers interpret their own views from what the artist portrays in the piece. The performing and visual arts both attempt to lead the viewer to a certain emotional plateau but usually the viewer interprets according to their own belief and value systems. Visual artists control the attention of the viewer through their pieces, according to Zelanski and Fisher, in the way they line up the painting or photograph from left to right since people scan in that direction (Zelanski, & Fisher, 1996).

In performing art, the people are in motion and use dialogue and stage direction to capture attention. In dance, music used provides another aspect of keeping the audiences’ attention through dance performing art. In a painting, according to Zelanski and Fisher, such as Degas’ ballerina paintings, viewing angle used helps capture viewer’s attention and angles direct the viewer throughout the painting while conveying the message (Zelanski, & Fisher, 1996). My personal experience with the visual arts has been through attending fine art museums.

Attending a Monet and Winslow Homer exhibition is one that comes to mind when forming my own personal tastes of fine art. I mainly went to see Monet’s paintings and received the side bonus of viewing Homer’s paintings also. I discovered the amazing difference between the brightness of colors between Monet and Winslow Homer while viewing. The paintings by Monet were not his most famous, but still of the beautiful water lilies he enjoyed painting so much. The muted colors did not compare to Homer’s bright landscapes and people frolicking within his photos.

Homer’s paintings produced a lively scene where people were active. The paintings also retold the history of his time. One of notable interest was the Eagle Head painting in which the three girl beach bathers showed their legs while a dog barked at them. This painting, according to Benjamin Genocchio of the NY Times, was controversial when Homer painted it since women could not show their legs during his time (Genocchio, 2006). The scenes Homer painted were bright, lively, and contained humans in action when, to me, compared to the Monet paintings were more interesting.

Visual arts in the form of architecture have always been my favorite form of fine and functioning art. A recent visit to the Biltmore House represented a fine blend of many visual arts. The paintings of the Mr. & Mrs. Vanderbilt captured their spirit. The architecture that encompassed the Biltmore House was exquisite especially the gargoyle statues and fine details on the outside of the house. The most spectacular room, the Library, housed the ornately carved pieces including the stepladder used to reach books off a higher shelf.

Another form of visual artists that I have always found inspiring is Ansel Adams. With the introduction to his fine art through photography, I have selected a few of his pieces for hanging in my room. I studied his use of light and photography to learn how best to capture his theory in film. In addition, the way that he lines up his shots made me focus my own work. In my recent photographs, called “Rock Faces,” I attempted to line up the shots in different angles similar to those that Ansel Adams produced during his time.

While the landscapes were not as impressive as Moon and Half Dome or others he produced, the effect was better than just snapping the shot without any thought behind the aesthetics of it. Van Gogh was popular in discussion throughout school learning. I appreciated his paintings for the color and brush strokes. In appreciating fine art of certain kinds, I did not like other forms of art that were not as appealing. I began to look critically at the art around me and developed my own tastes. As a result, I decorate my house with only the paintings, sculptures, and photography I enjoy.

With the appreciation of how painting best represents feelings through angles and color, I apply this to my own photography. In experimentation with people in events, I try to take the best scene photos to represent art as well as function. Capturing items of interest in black and white also leads me to see photographs with a critical eye before taking the shot, leading to an enhanced shot. Through the role of visual art in my life, I feel that I appreciate a higher class of objects through my taste. In addition, this shows through my own work.

I strive toward elite thinking and application in my own pieces whether fine art, writing, or anything else that I do. I believe that through fine art, the appreciation led me toward producing a higher quality. This began through striving to learn more about the influence behind productions of their fine art. Learning through analyzing the masters and the interpretation of others’ helped develop my own understanding of design and layout. Visual arts began as cave paintings and other art representing history.

Early people used art to portray what they saw in real life, according to Robert Hughes, which stood for associative thinking (Hughes, 1995). This led to using visual art in rituals and religious beliefs. Visual art also took on the form of writing as in hieroglyphics for the ancient Egyptians. Visual art served many more functions in early days and periods. The fine artists even in the Monet and Renoir times still captured the environment of the time and told of the history. For Monet, the scene surrounded the landscapes he enjoyed painting, capturing the different changes in times of day when he painted.

In Renoir’s paintings, he captured the social scene of his time including the dress of the people in his paintings. Visual art is a cultural value since many intelligent people appreciate the fine arts. Some people go to simply look at the art and see the paintings that represented periods of yesteryear. Many people appreciate the fine arts through learning what to look for in terms of placement and symbolical ideas. The paintings themselves form a puzzle in which a viewer can look and interpret what ideas the artist tried to portray through it.

The cultural value placed upon the fine art became more popular throughout the years since the art represented a cultural awareness for aesthetics. Museums brought about the appreciation for fine arts, according to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, through their establishment and mission (Board of Trustees, 1991). In my opinion, a work of art is great if it brings me to a new level of awareness. While recently traveling to Myrtle Beach, I viewed a painting that hung behind the reception area in the hotel lobby. To the average person, the painting represented an island of sand dunes and palm trees surrounded by ocean and blue sky.

The brush strokes in the painting varied with some long, wide, short, and thin. From a distance, the painting represented a scene of landscape. Upon moving closer to the painting, there were faces within the brush strokes. Faces in the trees and water, the sky and clouds, the sand dunes, and large bodies connected to some of the faces. The spirits of the items shown through the closer look at the brush strokes in the painting. The painting, whose name I forgot, fascinated me from the hidden aspects within it and my connection with it on my own level.

Even though I did not entirely like the landscape painted, the painting was still great due to how it touched me and I connected with it. In contrast, at the local museum, the new art section features a piece similar to a car wash item. This modern type of art is simply large panels from car wash foam that helps wash the cars. The sculpture hangs down from the ceiling in the museum. This sculpture did not connect with me and looked somewhat ridiculous and easy to duplicate. There was no connection simply because all I saw was a large piece of car wash rubber foam used to wash vehicles.

I did not connect with this piece and did not think it a great piece at all. Visual arts play more roles in the everyday lives of people especially through corporations’ inclusion of these pieces in their decoration. Unless individuals in America live under a rock, they see some form of fine art whether through television or in local hotels and businesses. People’s exposure to fine art leads to several people taking up the medium themselves through inspiration. The appreciation of the aesthetics surrounding fine visual art provides people with the appreciation for quality.

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