Art Of Interpretation

It is a paradox of sorts, that motion in a painting is achieved, not by showing something in motion, but by showing the feel of the movement.

It’s how I maneuver the basic elements of art—line, shape etc., that go to demonstrating movement, just as they go to showing what I display. A bird, painted beautifully floating in the sky or diving speedily towards the ground, can be something in itself, but it’s how it’s depicted, with the basic elements adjusted, that make me feel it, believe it, know it. So it’s not the thing depicted but the way it is shown (though both subject and technique work together).

“The  art of interpretation is not to play what is written.” 
Pablo Casals

Blue House 8x10 acrylic on canvas by MTMcClanahanBut there is more than that also—to breathe life into a composition is apart from showing mere movement—though both are important. Even a normally static thing, like a house or tree, can be demonstrated to have “life”, or reality, beyond the two dimensional canvas, by the life of the brush stroke, wielded by the life inside me. It’s like the advice from cellist Pablo Casals for the musician to play the music, not the notes.

How I feel about a subject comes through to the picture plane by the degree of empathy I have for what I see and feel. By life I guess I mean the overall dynamics that make me feel like, not only there is movement (which there always is in life), but how the life that is in me senses the life surrounding me.

Image: Blue House 8×10 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

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