Monday, May 4, 2009

Sculpture and Painting

I was having a conversation with my Color Theory professor a few days ago about how different painting is from sculpture. I said, "It's like there's more compromise in painting than there is in sculpture. Maybe sculpture is more deliberate?" This post is intended to be a little more of an in-depth exploration of the differences between painting and sculpting.

Why does it seem like I'm always trying to compromise with color in paintings instead of deliberately making them do what I want? Why does sculpture seem more deliberate, and less like a guessing game at times?

Color works specifically with the eyes and the response to visual stimulus, but it seems as though there's a different realm when it comes to sculpture. It's a difference I've been trying to understand for myself since I decided to become a sculpture major a year ago here at UNCG. What is the difference between the visual realms of color and space? Space seems to be something that is felt with the mind more than seen. Our way of understanding space requires a different part of the mind, it almost seems. There is a strange dichotomy, though, that tends to complicate things. What is the real difference between looking at sculpture and looking at paintings? Both are visual stimuli, dependent on aesthetics and concept, both are art. You can walk around a sculpture, but some paintings also have a feeling of depth that can create a feeling of space.

So what is the feeling of space? And what is the feeling of color?

Color, in its purest form, seems to actively communicate with our eyes. It is either there, or it isn't. It is finite, deliberate. Space is all around us, all the time. Our awareness of it changes and it sometimes altered because of sculpture. Perhaps the difference lies in that: color is more active than sculpture because it generates new perception each time we see it; space is something we're more or less always aware of, and the sculptor's job is to manipulate what's already there to make our perception of space more powerful. Which is harder? I'd definitely say that painting is harder. It seems as though every time I start a new painting, I end up asking myself, "How did I get to this point? What is happening with these colors. What are these colors doing?" It becomes a question of specifically how the colors are communicating with me rather than a question of whether or not the colors are communicating at all or what I want them to communicate. I feel like I ask similar questions when sculpting, but don't have to try as hard to explain it to myself. Is space understood more easily than color? Perhaps with me, it is. Perhaps with others, it is not.

It's a difficult issue. Lately I've been trying to figure out ways to explore the differences between painting and sculpture more deeply than I have been. If anyone else has any thoughts about thisto it, I'd love to hear them. I could go on forever about this issue. (But I won't. I'll stop here.)

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