Direction: Is It Visual Or Intellectual

It’s confusing—this art thing. On the one hand you have the view that artistic ideas come spontaneously out of the process of working—out of the process of trying to capture reality--light, color, etc. Then the cubist, fauvist, expressionist, etc., arrive on the scene and muddy the whole thing up, espousing the "idea" as coming first. And then there is everything in-between—take a little from this, a little from that.

Path by MTMcClanahanI guess no one would deny that the primary thing, or goal, is the end result, the piece of art, i.e., does it say, to some degree, what we intended? Even if the idea is the impetus of the art, the art, I would think, should be able to stand alone and speak for itself.

I see a lot of the artist’s decisions being based on temperament—one is more analytical and another more reactive. But these things are not cut and dry--we are a mixture of varying degrees one way or the other. Trying to decide how to proceed may be an effort in futility (or this may just be my right brain talking).

I wonder, sometimes, if it is justified to try and paint in a certain way, to make a conscious choice on things apart from representation, apart from reacting to the external. Should I try to be more "intellectual" in my approach? Things can become quite forced sometimes, working this way, for me anyway. I've never really wanted to put social or political ideology in my work; I would have trouble combining this rational thinking with my visual side. Maybe that's a crutch or, maybe, it's just the way it is, neither positive or negative, and I need just exploit my natural state in the direction I must go.


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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