What language do I speak?
Imagination. Every brush stroke is a step toward a future that is imagined in my mind, even though I don’t know how that image will develop in the minds of the viewers. While painting, I may imagine myself sitting in the same setting with the subject of the painting, or may picture myself observing the event from a different dimension. It is the imagined world that is present even in the most literal forms of painting because then I must invent its portrayal on the art medium. Once my piece is complete, the art becomes the imagination of others, and capturing the imagination becomes the new purpose of the piece.
A crucial element to most pieces of art is light, and light creates desire for inclusion and hope for the future. The light glistening on a haystack makes one imagine they are there smelling the fresh cut grass in the cool, dewy air. Light on a book makes a person hope to open it and find out what adventure is inside. Even the light of a partially-open door behind a comically misshapen circus clown draws in the audience because they imagine what is behind the door. Elegant, whimsical, and even comical representations use light to capture the imagination.
Imagination often advances and regresses back and forth throughout time, which is why so many artistic pieces are set in different time periods. However, it is not only different time frames that spark the imagination of viewers. Some pieces represent movement through time. A long, dark tunnel may represent a time of struggle. A darkened room with a clock on the wall set to midnight lets one know that something important is occurring while everyone is asleep. It may be extrapolation by the viewer, but time does not escape the imagination.
Even a still life can have movement. A shadow from the sun coming through a window will move throughout the day. Movement can also be created by passages or doorways that make the audience imagine moving through the environment. Even a portrait with no doors or windows in the background may show movement. The smile on the Mona Lisa’s lips, for example, allow the viewer to imagine the movement of her face. Movement may be included intentionally, but it must be imagined by the audience.
The successful selection of art must capture the imagination of its owner. The owner may imagine more due to the light I have captured, the representation of time realized in the piece, or the movement felt by the setting or subject of the painting. Regardless of the features that cause active use of the imagination, art that captures the imagination will come to life for its viewer.