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Tabula Rasa - Let Me Paint You a Picture

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posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 08:05 PM
Those of you without any prior knowledge of the concept of Tabula Rasa, I suggest visiting:

In short, it describes "the mind as a blank slate" and is usually depicted by a blank canvas..

This little analogy is fairly simple, but somehow manages to outline my own perception-system very neatly (though my explanation might not be simple and neat haha..) perhaps just because I am a painter and musician it "resonates" with me especially and the connections seem clear, but please ask any questions you might have! I am here to learn first and foremost


the pursuit of "Truth" by ALL paradigms in Human Culture and History, seem no different than the goals of a *true* artist and often Truth becomes obscured and unreliable in the same way that an artist's depiction may not entirely communicate the experience it was based upon. I am going to describe the metaphor in terms of three types of artists on a spectrum..

At the FIRST extreme - we have the "SERIOUS" artist who is a rigid fundamentalist with his technique and aesthetics. This person has studied "all of the right things" and prides himself on his wealth of knowledge and effort, perhaps more than the art itself! This includes most high-school art-teachers and relatives who "went to school for art but haven't painted much since then.."
The categories of "right" and "wrong" suffocate the Creative-Curiosity and were this mentality to be followed to its TRUE extreme, they would say "I will only paint with black and white because they contain the essence of ALL colors and to limit oneself to them, is to maintain purity"..

This is no different than a religious-fundamentalist that believes in duality and opposites like "God versus Satan" and feels that one must align themselves to the forces of "good" for their lives to be worth living.. it follows that the fundamentalist-painter who is NOT a hypocrite, could never use both extremes (black and white) in harmony and would always obligate himself to paint the canvas entirely black or white..

Hence another fundamentalist could walk up to the painting and say "oh, i absolutely know what you mean" with complete sincerity..

the next extreme - The "liberal relativist" who says "everything goes" and is usually always on the look-out for the next "fashion" or "trend" in art, instead of painting from their own imagination.. these are the people who might have a drive for art, a vast-knowledge of art history and schooling, but doesn't understand/respect the contents of this knowledge beyond its face-value.. and love Andy Warhol haha..

these are the artists who are entirely satisfied with working for a company, drawing magazine-ads and working on commercials.. a lot of "energy" to offer but no focus and hence no substance..
followed to it's logical extreme, they would say "one must use as many colors as possible and constantly aspire to convey 'the Truth' all-at-once!" leading to an oversaturation and ambiguity to the relevance of their art. Think of all those nice 6'X6' canvases in HUGE museums that have a single red-dot or something equally simple, and the price is hundreds or thousands of dollars..

This mentality, as applied to "those who pursue Truth", can be equated to folks like the New-Agers and pseudoscientists. These people might INDEED have some Truth inside their systems of thought, but they are mixed and buried with piles of convoluted rubbish, and more likely to confuse the hell out of you, than offer any beneficial thought processes. "Gurus" can only lead you to doors that *might* lead you to where you want to go, but you have to know where you want to go in the first place..
Just as with threads on ATS, if you know what you are looking for, you can find hours of entertainment and profundity..
If you don't, it's likely you may become absorbed in Doom-Porn (which you may also be looking for.. haha)
It is ultimately CHOICE which is in question here..

which leads me to the last aspect of my metaphor:

The Third Extreme - This is the artist who is only DEFINED as an artist by others, because his acts are Creative in the realest sense - both practical and innovative..
This is the artist who is not loyal to only ONE medium, but uses no more and no less of the materials he needs to convey his 'message'..

This is the artist who does art without any price-tag on the piece being created, while it is being created. He feels it is his Work and Craft and somehow his Duty to create his creation, and any claim or mark of his Ego are nowhere to be seen in the work itself..

This artist Sees "Art" in far more places than that which he creates, so he is always learning from The World, so he better-knows what to contribute without relying on any dogmatic system..
any system that he DOES adopt, is simply for the intents and purposes of researching the system in the first place; interpreting this Knowledge as "suggestion" instead of "law"..

This artist builds understanding and experience with the primary colors through experimentation and not memorizing the words of other artists. Here, he learns how to achieve his aims and mix the colors to conjure the image he desires, but these colors are seen as tools instead of boundaries or limits..

When applied to "the pursuit of Truth" with this mentality, you might already have noticed that THERE IS NO DIFFERENCE between this artist, and that of a person who pursues Truth entirely within their own means; using the teachings of others to guide him to new ideas and perspectives, but ultimately relying on experience before considering dogmatic assumptions...

These people live their entire lives as if it were a continuous, cross-medium, Art Project and it is to this mentality which i think the term Tabula Rasa applies..

before any paint touches the canvas, his mind/imagination is a blank slate.

this is NOT to say that "blank" means "white" or "black" but rather as if the canvas were a clean sheet of glass, acting as a window for the artist to observe his target entirely un-obscured by preconceived notions, and portraying it by obscuring his view of it (with paint upon the "glass canvas"), and leaving space where his conclusions about his Target are most uncertain..

My ultimate point:

it seems like the goal of ANY artist is to learn to communicate using common experience (as with the fundamentalist painter) and integrate it with a context/style that is entirely his own; hence being able to portray the world in a way which is outside of common-experience, but still COMMUNICATING..

The artist with a mind of Tabula Rasa realizes that both goals are two extremes of the same spectrum, and the artist with a mentality of Tabula Rasa can oscillate between these extremes without feeling obligated to stagnate on ANY part of the spectrum..

He realizes that "searching for meaning" leads to studying the work of others and while he may indeed become versed in A medium and/or process, he risks losing his Inspiration to "analysis paralysis"; "denying the existence of 'meaning itself", only leading to work which depicts this meaning..

He has only to learn from his surroundings and depict what he sees... perhaps once THIS is refined, his creations no longer must be confined to a canvas at all..

posted on Dec, 15 2013 @ 08:09 PM
Thanks for the post.

Very interesting info, im reading it now. Really appreciate the post.

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 11:38 AM
reply to post by HyphenSt1

To sum it up REALLY concisely (the OP is even too lengthy for ME haha.. not a good sign) I can put it this way:

The Mind of the extreme-fundamentalist has the strength of an intense Focus and uses it to concentrate and learn from who he considers "Wise and masterful". He rejects complexity and risks, calling it "impure" and seeks the simplest scheme possible in hopes of conveying an idea or gospel. "Thou shall not stray from the flock!"

The Mind of the extreme-relativist has the strength of a wide Scope of vision and can draw influences from just about ANYWHERE but the depth of his sight is shallow.. He embraces almost any new fad to come around and ultimately seeks the most pretentious, obscure, pattern-based art possible, rejecting "the masters" as being only one shade of many.. They have no message or gospel to convey besides "all is permissible and equal under Love! Love Under Will."

The Mind of Tabula Rasa integrates and oscillates between both extremes, but commits to neither and rejects both as "permanent states of mind" but instead experiences them as he sees fit. He is in-tune with himself to know when he wants to Create, but he does not overthink or plan and justify making a piece of art.. he just does.
He seeks balance but in knowing the true character of balance, he is unafraid to take risks and induce chaos, just as he is not afraid to learn about anatomy and study any artist that catches his eye. With this mindset, it does not leave a "struggling artist", but a Shaman.

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 11:58 AM
reply to post by HyphenSt1

I really enjoyed your OP. Your psychological eye is rare.

What artist would you consider yourself? And do you have any examples of these artists?

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 12:25 PM
reply to post by TheSubversiveOne

thank you, I appreciate that!

I would say that on my worst days, I'm one of the first two (though I do paint a lot of black and white, so perhaps leaning towards the fundamentalist at the WORST of the worst of times haha) but I suppose my intent with this thread was to outline what has become my ideal mindset when it comes to art, and also in life, which is that of Tabula Rasa.

I think of these categories as three extremes (imagine a triangle where the points represent the extremes) and so most artist would fall somewhere inside the triangle and not at the points BUT lemme see.. examples..

Fundamentalists: Superhero comic-book artists.. not ALL of them, mind you.. but these books have looked the same since i was born and amongst a huge team of artists, they all have to draw and color the book in a consistent way and make it somehow look like a single artist drew it all.. Sincerity itself is not necessarily in question here, but Form and Proportion are like LAW to them and risks are only taken after any potential failure has been assessed.

Relativists: Oh gosh, just go into most any museum and I'm guessing you might notice a few pieces that urge you to exclaim "no.. no..! NOOO! there is no way that this painting of a splotch is selling for thousands of dollars!!!!" these are the folks I'm describing in this extreme.. again Sincerity still isn't REALLY the issue, but their mindset is one of vague ambivalence and seem easily caught up in "art movements" and rely on "scenes" instead of standing on their own and let their art steer their "career"..

Tabula Rasaists: this category could very easily include most of my favorite artists, but Alan Moore and Robert Anton Wilson immediately come to mind. Their work is boundless and fueled entirely by their own curiosity and experience. Their technique is somehow consistent, but varies with each project.. These folks don't commit to being any ONE artist, but become fluid and flexible to the extent where they can be anyone, anywhere, at anytime...

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 12:57 PM
It's always interesting to hear thoughts about the nature of art from a fellow artist and musician. I tend to think the idea of being multi-disciplinary (or multi-medium) is a very good thing, allowing for one to take inspiration from a seemingly unrelated discipline.

My definition for the true artist is they are explorers of the world and of the psyche. Journeying outward and inward simultaneously through their art and taking inspiration and returning it in an original way through their creative act. They are motivated by an inner need to find expression and don't create art to support a particular point of view or political affiliation. Artists process the world around them and show unique points of view or feeling. Dogmatic artists like Norman Rockwell for instance have a knack for finding the essence of something known and familiar. They don't stray from convention - they are convention and become ambassadors of it. They can make great art but it becomes a cliché of itself past a point.

I liked your description of kitsch as well. Warhol is the perfect example of the "art whore". That kind of art requires explanation for the pure aesthetics of it leave much to be desired. It's not beautiful nor is it creative. It's simply a mirror of society at large and consumer culture - buy it, you'll love it (because we said you will) and all your friends will know you are trendy too!

I have a bunch of artwork posted at the link in my signature if you're interested which you are completely free to psychoanalyze to your heart's content.

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 06:21 PM
reply to post by Asktheanimals

My definition for the true artist is they are explorers of the world and of the psyche

couldn't say it better myself!

They don't stray from convention - they are convention and become ambassadors of it

exactly! though I would add that they choose this path and definition for themselves (whether it be conscious or subconscious depends on the person) because, either through schooling or upbringing (or sometimes just natural demeanor), they cannot escape this imprinted idea of a "formula for 'good' art" which seems to really shorten the creative-life of any artist who maintains this mentality.

It's simply a mirror of society at large and consumer culture - buy it, you'll love it (because we said you will) and all your friends will know you are trendy too!

again, i very much concur haha..

unfortunately it seems that most art is, at best, just a lesser form of this evil, and I think that most of the Tabula Rasa artists are simply not the type of people to carry out a crusade against anything, let alone the anti-thesis of their own art haha. but once these people realize how important their work is, i think we may finally see a revolution of mind where everyone comes to their own realizations and, instead of becoming MORE ignor-ant, they come to be aware and open to any SOURCE of information, but use their reason to prioritize and pursue only what is truly relevant and "true" (to their experience).

I really appreciate your attention to detail in your knifework and those graphite pieces are amazingly realistic but somehow there's still a lot of space where its most important and this enhances the realism because the contrast really creates the illusion of being in a naturally lit space. that stippling is fantastic as well! It seems that artists such as yourself have a natural eye for recreating a scene in a very physical way (physical properties are most convincing and seeing it as "a bunch of ink on paper" is difficult even for the mind of most artists) whereas artists such as myself, while still being obsessed with detail and hold contempt for "abstract for the sake of it" type art.. I find that (without much conscious input) my work tends to ride the line between realism and sorta.. surreal/psychedelic environments, often with many things in common with art like Greek-Orthodox Icons.

I think each artist has plenty to offer however and once artists can find that "Tabula Rasa" mindset, i believe it becomes easier to produce meaningful art and we can finally escape this environment of diluted, mediocre, shallow.. poop. haha. but seriously.. art is the answer

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 06:44 PM
reply to post by HyphenSt1

That was a really good duo of posts there, I enjoyed reading it.
Balance is the Key.

Good work and thanks for offering some good writing to bide the time before dinner.

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 07:48 PM
reply to post by HyphenSt1

Thank you very much, I appreciate your comments. Often the practical reason dictates the course of one's work - to survive while working in the medium you love. Gallery owners and clients tell you what they want, of course everyone you know has their bit of friendly advice: "If you just put some color in it people would like it more" and that type of thing. It's well intended but dangerous to anyone serious about Art with a capital A.

Me, I'm too hung up on realism. Not that I don't appreciate abstract work - I just don't do it (or can't to my satisfaction). Far too often people can produce junk and still sell it to an ignorant buying public. Most simply cannot tell the difference between a good abstract work and a poor one. I blame education myself, even at college level it seemed lacking in substance to me. The basics of aesthetics should be the primary focus of art ed, without it as a foundation everything else can only be hit and miss.
I have a great amount of respect for the work of Rudolf Arnheim and his book Art and Visual Perception. One of the gestalt theory guys who breaks down the elements of design in an organic and incisive way. Somewhere between the discipline of aesthetics and the zen of experience/visualization is the essence of what I want to be doing.

I hope more artists will drop by this thread.

edit on 16-12-2013 by Asktheanimals because: (no reason given)

posted on Dec, 16 2013 @ 08:28 PM
reply to post by HyphenSt1

Tabula Rasa - Let Me Paint You a Picture

I wasn't aware of the Tabula Rasa term but I suppose that applies to my style of film making.

The films almost create themselves with almost little or no input from me to the cast and crew. Even the scripts sometimes breakdown into improvisation and vamp. If there is any art that takes place it's at the editing suite; and even then it's more about keeping the rhythm of the story than technical trickery or adherence to any preconceived style.
I do however find myself absorbed in the technology of film when I should be concentrating on herding cats. Sometimes film making isn't about the final "product" but the process. Hard to define it as Art ; especially when staying within a budget trumps aesthetics.

Quite a dramatic change from my artisan days in the studio.
edit on 16-12-2013 by olaru12 because: (no reason given)

edit on 16-12-2013 by olaru12 because: (no reason given)

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