The Art and Spirit of the Painting


“These Foolish Things”
24 x 20
The Colors of Jazz Collection
©2020, Molly Larson Cook


Dominant 7th chords are some of the most common chords you’ll find in the jazz repertoire…But they’re also some of the most confusing to play over, especially when it comes to all those #9, b13, #11 alterations and accompanying scales.”

Are you a musician?  Perhaps you understand that paragraph.  I’m not a musician. I’m an aficionado, and I just listen to the music I love so that passage is as much a mystery to me as perhaps to you.

The passage came from a blog with advice for jazz musicians, and I include it today as a message to all the folks who say, often apologetically, “I don’t know much about art. I just know what I like.”

I include it to say to all those people, stop apologizing!  Knowing what you like is all it takes.  No reasonable artist would expect a collector or someone else who appreciates the work to know all the technical intricacies of a painting any more than my musician friends expect me to understand all the intricacies of chord structure to enjoy the jazz.

We can leave the technical analysis to the academics and the critics.  I’m always happy when someone can say a little more about a particular painting, something about the colors or the design, but honestly, I get a bigger kick when someone says, “I don’t know why; I just like it.”

And here’s why.  The best artists I know work on two levels, and I try to be among them.

On one level, it’s technical – choices about paint and color and canvas and tools. Things we know about light and dark. Things we know about layering and composition.  No matter what kind of art we produce – realistic, abstract, nudes, landscapes, kittens – these things are part of the work.

On the other level, we know our hearts, and my heart guides my work.  In The Art Spirit, Robert Henri says regarding artists, “There is the heart and the mind…I think the heart should be master and the mind should be the tool and servant of the heart…The person who wants to produce art must have the emotional side first, and this must be reinforced by the practical.”

For me, it’s great when someone can explain an interest in my work from the practical view, but it’s a joyous occasion when someone speaks of my work from the heart.

When I ask interested viewers to tell me a little about what they like in a painting, they often give me some of the best feedback, emotional feedback, the kind of feedback you hear when somebody falls in love.

Words straight from the heart.





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