It’s more and more apparent to me the importance of logical, analytical thought as part of the process of doing art. I’ve always seen “Art” as mostly in the realm of feelings and emotions, that to be an artist meant embracing primarily that area of the brain that regulates the indefinable and unmeasurable. I’ve been a bit naïve.

Hard won skills and knowledge come only from the practical—practical exercise of one’s faculties and the systematic thought necessary in practice, practice and more practice. But this is not about practice I don’t believe (I certainly remember doing studies at university). I’m still thinking on this concept so I know I’ve only scratched the surface of this new epiphany, but I see that I mustn’t only react intuitively, I must use all my cognitive faculty. This goes for art in general and for each specific work.

I’m not implying that the feeling side of things is lackadaisical or unreflective, nor do I consider it synthetic or false, as apposed to the analytical, which, in my mind, assumes fact. I’m saying there is a necessity to think logically and intuitively at the same time, maybe using one sense or the other a bit more at different moments in the process.

The Sound Of Surf 40x66 acrylic on canvasThis all became so very evident to me when I was talking to a friend/relative who happens to be a psychologist. For some reason listening to his logical and analytical take on things hit me as amazing; how could someone who deals with the mind be so reasoned? Why this was so amazing I’m not quite sure except that maybe I have always been under the impression that things of the mind, including art, live in a dimension that cannot be thought about analytically. Or maybe I am so far over on my proverbial “right-brain” that this is just the way I think in general; I do go on feeling most of the time, except maybe with balancing my money accounts, which reasonably I despise doing. I know I am generalizing the brain to left/right hemispheres to represent thought vs. feeling as well as verbal/non-verbal abilities; I’m not sure this is physiologically correct.

Again, I don’t think this is the same thing as practicing hard and then letting things flow when working. This seems different (there I go relying on feeling again). This is more along the lines of what is necessary while in the doing–while in the fray.

Image: The Sound Of Surf 40×66 acrylic on canvas MTMcClanahan


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

2 Responses

  1. Betsy says:

    We begin with developing a kinesthetic memory, much in the same way a gymnast or other athlete develops an unconscious rhythm through practice to allow the brain to connect the eye, the hand, and the brain in a fluid motion. With that, you can let go, not having to be constrained by knowing how to do something, not having to urge the hand to create a light or bold touch. A bird that has learned to fly no longer has to think about flying. He can feel the rush of the wind, linger on the warm rise of tropic air, taper just a little to enjoy the view just a bit more, or muscle his way to feel the rush of adrenaline. He has a good sense of how much he dares to do. Free to be. Intuitive. The analysis is still there, but automatic.

  2. MT says:

    I think I sometimes try to rely too much solely on the intuitive side. I have to remind myself that It’s okay to think things through logically.

    And I say “intuitive” side but what I really mean is the “feeling” side that comes from being human, not from practice. There is, of course, an “intuition” that isn’t from practice. Call it spiritual or whatever, it comes from ones inner parts coupled with “life force” and is in a area of the psyche that “sees” not because it practiced, but just because it is a part of it all; and some are more sensitive to it than others. “Sensitivity” is a better word for it maybe; one can be sensitive to the spiritual it seems.

    Taking practiced intuition as a given, I’ve found that when my sensitivities are combined with the logical in a more pragmatic and aware way (as opposed to the afore mentioned muscle memory) my work can be more original and stronger artistically. Just relying on sensitivity can cause one to imitate what he likes rather than originate what he wants.

    Maybe combining and using the logical with the feeling in a successful way has it’s own learning curve, just like training the hand to respond to the eye.

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