Breaking Rules

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.” ― Pablo Picasso

I find that people who do not consider themselves to be artistic are often surprised to learn that there are rules in art. Their impression is that an artist should be able to conjure up artwork, much like conjuring a magic spell. To these people there is a mystical, magical aura to the process of creating art. Quite frankly I get it. I am frequently literally spell bound by the works of other artists, even though I have the advantage of knowing there are rules.

In reality Art has many rules. The rule of thirds. Rules that govern perspective, proportion, and symmetry.  Rules concerning the use of color. Leonardo da Vinci insisted on a rule that paintings should not have hard, sharply defined lines. Artists spend years in art schools or studying on their own to learn the rules. Oddly, the actual magic may be that art gets created despite the rules, for many of the greatest works break them.

Rules are a foundational part of my process. Not just the classic rules about art, but my own self imposed rules. Full disclosure, I live somewhere on the autism spectrum. In many contexts I find rules comforting, grounding. Rules provide a starting point for me. My rules frequently revolve around numbers, but may also concern materials or even the presentation of a work. To anyone else my rules would probably seem arbitrary or constraining, but for me they provide context for pursuing an idea and a starting point for how begin work. The wonderful thing about all of these rules is when I discover that one or more does not apply, or is obsolete in the context of the current work. This brings me great joy as an artist and as a person. It is quite freeing; a place where the rules do not apply. It is in this space that I can be creative, even if I have to break a few rules to get there.

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One Reply to “Breaking Rules”

  1. This has helped a lot. I’am looking forward to performing art in a different view now. Thank you for the advice!

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