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Gary Peterson Art Blog

Beliefs, Desires, and The Male Gaze.

by p3t3rson , June 30, 2008—12:00 AM

Topics: Olympia by Edouard Manet, art analysis, famous nude paintings, viewing art

Art connects the intellect with an emotion and makes you feel good - or at least smart. But the intellect is rigid and emotions are unstable - they can flare up and get out of hand. Michelangelo is said to have taken a hammer and wacked a sculpture because it wouldn__™t talk to him. When expressing a creative urge, an artist unconsciously converts intelligence and emotions into the more manageable aspects of beliefs and desires. Art is the difference between belief and desire.

Beliefs and desires are ___intentional___ states of mind because they aim at something: the object of our desire or the thing in which we believe. Beliefs are filed under ___knowledge___ with the likes of faith, intuition, suspicion, etc., while ___desire___ is stored with hopes, wishes, needs, and demands.

Beliefs are the simplest form of mental representation: the building blocks of conscious thought. Beliefs become knowledge only if they are proven true. They are, along with external motivations, the value system that controls our behavior. You are what you believe.

The Scottish philosopher David Hume said our beliefs don__™t depend on experience or reason, just ideas: the imagination. If our expectations are repeatedly met, our beliefs become habit. ___The idea of heat becomes a belief in the presence of a flame.___ But doubt is the scourge of belief, so it__™s ouch, ouch, ouch___until eventually our behavior becomes automatic.

---End of excerpt. Read the entire essay in The Intellectual Handyman On Art, a book by Gary R Peterson (iUniverse)




  Gary Peterson ( homepage )

07/06/2008 * 16:20:28


Pardon the delayed response. I'm happy to be sharing my thoughts with you and the other fine artist/writers at ArtId. I also enjoy reading through the wealth of useful information and original insights found here.

I believe I first learned about ArtId in ARTnews magazine. I do remember finding the well-conceived ArtId website and being impressed. As for blogging, it just seems a natural thing to do in as much as I enjoy writing and hope to think someone is reading my words.

I would be honored to be a Featured Blogger on ArtId.

Thanks again to you for providing a wonderful forum for artists and patrons, and to all others who've made me feel welcomed with their encouraging words and feedback.

Highest regards,



  ArtId Staff ( homepage )

07/06/2008 * 13:20:42

Not too long ago I was working on a mixed media piece on a chalk gesso panel and at some point I conceded that it was not coming together. I set it aside in my studio where I would have to pass by it daily. I waited for it to speak to me. "What do you need?" No answer. Over a year later the piece spoke out. "Start over." Of course! No matter how I tried to force my fixes on it, it was all wrong. I took a palm sander to it and took it down to a point where it was just hints of color showing here and there and started again.
Yes, it is like talking to yourself, your many selves. The conscious prattle shutting up for a minute to listen to the subconscious. But I know that the work, at some point takes on a life of it's own, separate from me. It is recognition and acceptance of that point that should allow the artist to relinquish control and go dancing.


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

07/05/2008 * 14:19:55


You've done a marvelous job of putting into words a point that often makes me sound like some hokey, new age, goof ball to my students.

I try to explain to them that sometimes you just need to "listen" to your work. You might have started out with a specific idea, but something unexpected happened along the way and suddenly the piece wants to go a new direction. As artists we need to learn to be sensitive to, as Gary put it, these "external motivations", because they can have a dramatic effect on the overall success of our work. To ignore them, or worse, be ignorant of them, is neglegent to our true potential.


  Gary Peterson ( homepage )

07/04/2008 * 19:06:14

Hi Mary,

What you are calling a "conversation" with a work of art personified, I simply described as "external motivations." I think that we are saying the same thing in different ways. We both agree that the creation of art requires feedback and adjustment.

I would mention the subtle difference in connotations between the philosophical and practical use of the term "intentional." The former refers to the "aboutness" of a thought or mental state, while the latter is the more familiar sense of a deliberate act. Your assertion in this case is the correct one.

Your contention that art is a conversation between artist and his or her work is metaphoric if not downright poetic. I like it! I could argue that conversing with your own art is like talking to yourself, but your point is well taken. Thanks for keeping me honest. -GP


  ArtId Staff ( homepage )

07/04/2008 * 14:45:03

I must agree with Betsy, my brain hurts. I've read this blog three times and I think I might be grasping the observations and intent.
"As an artist creates, his or her intentions constantly change, the hand updating reality even before the paint dries, guided by everything from gut feelings to game theory..."
Artists can approach a painting with great intention, desire and belief but I must mention that art is a conversation back and forth between the artist and the work. It is that very conversation that can cause an artist to modify or even abandon the original intent and yield to what the painting is telling him it needs as it grows and develops.
"Art is a language and an artist's beliefs and desires are inherent in every visual element of the composition." Art is a language, and a conversation, which includes the beliefs and desires, inherent in every visual element of both the artist and the painting itself.


  Betsy Davison ( homepage )

07/02/2008 * 22:07:22


This article is brain hurts...but it's good! I've been following your blog posts since you joined (I was hooked when you posted The Art World is Elliptical.... I started out as an engineer and anyone who can figure out a way to relate art to science in such a succinct manner is creative genius!).

I have a couple of questions. First, how did you find us? Second, what was compelling about our site that made you want to start to blog? Third, you have talent with the written word and making connections with the art world worthy of front and center status. Would you be interested in being a Featured Blogger on ArtId?

I am writing to our content director this evening to let her know I have touched base with you about this.

Have a terrific 4th of July.'s an absolute pleasure following your blog and I thank you for your contributions.

Very Best Regards,
President, ArtId


  Gary Peterson ( homepage )

07/02/2008 * 07:45:45

Thanks Mike, I appreciate your insights and well-informed comments as always.

I write from observation and try to make reasonable deductions from there, but no matter how well I think I've covered a topic, you always manage to shine a light in some dark corner
(Venus of Urbino pun intended) to bring the bigger picture into view.


  Michael Mize ( homepage )

07/01/2008 * 22:31:51


I always look forward to your blogs and they never disappoint. This was another remarkably engaging article that made parts of my brain hurt just a bit. (perhaps because they're not getting as much exercise on summer break)

There were several points you made that I thought to echo as I read, but in looking back now they were too numerous to bother with, so instead, a blanket compliment for the work in it's entirety: Very well done, sir!

I enjoyed your comparison of Olympia and Urbino, as well. Another interesting tidbit about Urbino is that her frisky pose was intended to be a sort of "how-to" guide for young women who were about to become neglected trophy wives. Her maidservants pack her trunk in the back ground while she takes matters into her own hands. (Pardon the pun, I couldn't resist.)

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