Art as expression

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“To the painter who thinks of art as a matter of harmony and arrangement, simplification is a process of eliminating meaningless detail, of integrating the disparate elements of subject matter and putting them into orderly form. The colors of parts take their places in his concept of harmonious color and light, and the shapes of things are made to fit a prearranged structure of form. Therefore simplification is an understatement of details rather than an overstatement of them.

“The more natural appearance is simplified, that is, understated, the more likely is the artist to call upon his own creative powers to produce a picture that is expressive or interpretative rather than illustrative. Overstatement, with overwrought detail, takes us away from the ideal of art and becomes mere imitation of nature.”

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - "Basilica of Constantine" - 9.25" x 13>25" - Oil  (1826-28)

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot – “Basilica of Constantine” – 9.25″ x 13>25″ – Oil (1826-28)


“Art has to be felt, it has to move us; otherwise it means nothing. Art is an expression of man’s mind, spirit, feeling and imagination. It affects these qualities in the beholder if the artist has succeeded in his task. Art is a result of man’s inventive and constructive genius and must not be confused with nature; it lifts us up, transports us, and through art we escape from reality. Nature also moves us to the degree that it resembles art, but art suffers the more it mimics nature. This is as true of painting as it is of music. The painter’s problem, like the composer’s, is to elevate by the beauty and power of his expression, not to imitate nature. Yet both are inspired by nature and they cease to function as creative artists when nature no longer inspires them.”

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot - "The Bent Tree" - 17.5" x 23" - Oil  (1855)

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot – “The Bent Tree” – 17.5″ x 23″ – Oil  (1855)


“The ideal of painting is a matter of vision or mind’s sight more than eyesight; a mental as well as a visual process. In this ideal, the painter composes line, color and tone and puts them into harmonious order as a composer of music arranges his musical notations in a formal concept of harmony. Although these arts are dissimilar they have this common basis, that both depend upon an imagined structure of composition.


Although Corot worked directly from nature, his painting was by mind’s sight rather than eyesight. Nature was his inspiration, but when he went out to paint he carried with him much more than brushes and paint: an inner vision that served as a pattern for all that nature had to give. He was a master of simplification, reducing the manifold complexities of nature to effects that reflected his own response to her quiet moods.


“Surface appearance, the vision of the physical eye – that is the limitation of the mediocre painter. Character appearance, the vision of the mind’s eye, reveals the moods of nature, gives us a feeling of nature’s meaning for man which photographic perfection does not even glimpse.”

Quotes are excerpted from American Artist magazine, June 1940 edition…an article by Warren Wheelock, “Simplicity in Painting”.


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I am pleased to announce that the Art Renewal Center’s Board of Judges, after reviewing my current work, has changed my affiliation from Associate Living Master (ARCALM) to Living Master (ARCLM). I am truly honored  to be listed among such great contemporary artists. You may read about it HERE.

John Pototschnik is an Art Renewal Center Living Master
To view his art and bio, please click HERE



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