Balancing Chaos: Structure And Expression

The sun is said to be in perfect chaos. Its’ explosive surface is held in the palm of a perfectly balanced system that enables the earth to thrive. It’s not so surprising that this contrast exists–contrasts are the basis of everything it seems– but it is nonetheless extraordinary. When you hear of the power exerted by the sun and how it’s particulars–speed, distance etc.–are so minutely tuned, so much so that just an unbelievably small amount of change would destroy us, it sets one in awe.

Parting Sea by MTMcClanahan

I relate this chaotic balance with the way I see the act of painting; I see what I try to do as similar. When I apply paint to canvas it is with abandon, but it’s a controlled abandon. All the thousands of paint strokes that came before this one, all the training and practice–how I have learned to use the elements of art to express visually–hopefully guide my exuberance to fulfill my vision. These elements, which make up the structure of a work of art, like the structure that holds the sun’s power in check, support and allow for chaos to manifest into coherent expression. A work of art can be judged on this structure and on the artist’s expression with it.

See Jim Hamlyn’s interesting article entitled Interpretation, Intentionalism and Assessment on Thought, Art, Representation.

I have to go back to Van Gogh (see Savageries and Boldly Exaggerate), that his system is no system at all. I see this also. It goes beyond perfecting ones hand but is a way of seeing and of producing what you see. There are those who attempt perfection in drawing, but my perfection is the realization of my vision through the control of chaos, which is a more natural way of working for me.

The artist’s vision and foregone days of struggle underlie his work. No matter how “savagely” I paint there is always the underlying structure that balances and holds it all together.

MT McClanahan

An artist and perpetual thinker, MT McClanahan finds inspiration through connecting ideas across a broad range of topics. He especially enjoys philosophy and how art and life interconnect. He is the founder of TPT and his paintings can be seen at

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