Thoughts on Art... Like math or creative writing, art seems diabolically simple and obvious when you are doing it, but maddeningly vague when you try to define it. I have come to think of the positive feeling one gets from creating works of art as an extension of the positive feelings that come from things like recognizing the face of a loved one, or recognizing the road that leads home. Along with recognition, there is another component: imagination. It seems abstract, but anthropologists point out that imagination is vital: with no imagination, planning would be impossible. This in turn would make hunting large animals, or building a simple shelter, impossible. By definition, imagination needs to be unencumbered to be useful; thus it isn’t directly connected to logical or analytical thinking. But even simple recognition is tricky stuff... it makes it easy to think you see a human face in a thundercloud or a rock formation. And it probably was very early in human evolution that someone discovered drawing. When the artist makes a drawing, he calls on the viewer?s imagination to summon an image from simple lines in the dust or smears of color on a cave wall. An unexpected but essential aspect of human psychology plays a key role in art: the drawing can and does bring much the same pleasure of recognition as the actual item. I mean that a skillful rendering of a child’s face, for example, can give the viewer much the same joy as the sight of the actual child. Now all we need is a blank canvas. In ancient times, a sheer rock wall could be the natural canvas for endless depictions of exciting animal hunts and other adventures. Once drawn and painted, these pictographs would bring back memories of meaningful events for viewers to enjoy throughout time. And last but not least: the imagination imagines its own canvas, and fills it with endless wonders.... the essential elements of art. Now, all this is delightfully ethereal, but there are at least two things unaccounted for... beauty and fun. We can look at two things and feel one is inherently beautiful, while the other simply is not, for example: a beautiful flower and an ugly weed. How these differentiations came to exist is beyond me. So at the bottom of it, it is nearly impossible to know why painting a flower brings joy, while painting a weed is rewarding only as documentary illustration. And so, it is all fun: the curve of a tree limb, a shadow cast across tall grass, turbulent storm clouds, lovers faces, a reflection in a car fender... As you learn to recognize these kinds of things, and as you struggle to capture them, a sense of satisfaction becomes yours to enjoy as you allow others to now see and enjoy what you saw. The fun of art is both subtle and deeply visceral; it is a profound part of the Human Experience. Everyone should try it.