Painting above by a high school student trained in classical skill-based art
Isn't There Something Incomprehensible, Magical, or Mystical About Art? by Brian K. Yoder from the Art Renewal Center
Art can be subtle, complex, hard to understand, or difficult to explain, but there's nothing literally magical about it and nothing about it which inherently defies analysis. I think the reason some people believe this is that art (good art anyway) often excites the emotions, and people think (or feel) that emotions are incomprehensible, magical, or beyond explaining, and because of this error and the relationship between art and emotion, they conclude that art is therefore similarly incomprehensible, magical, etc. Both the logic of this linkage and the premise of emotions being magical or incomprehensible are erroneous.
Another flawed idea is that rational analysis and emotions are opposites and that indulging in one must come at the expense of the other. They fear that "peering behind the curtain" might destroy the potential for emotional enjoyment. In practical terms, I don't find that knowing more about how a painting, novel, movie, or symphony was made (which constitutes a decrease in the amount of "mystery" surrounding it) diminishes my ability to appreciate it. On the contrary, the more I know about the best works the more I appreciate them.
If art is beyond comprehension then how can anyone know that this is so? Not only is that a logical impossibility, but this sounds like the assertion of the existence of some kind of mystical mystery qualities that only the truly enlightened can see. Such assertions have been a standard trick of charlatans for thousands of years. They leave the victim of the charlatan in a position of intellectual dependence, and ready to have his pockets picked. They also have the "convenient" property of being impermeable to question and criticism or even of explanation. It's a "magical" justification for imposing intellectual dependency upon the victim of bad ideas, and a license to lie for the "experts" who can just make up any idea they wish and it is magically "true" somehow.
Another argument I often encounter is the idea that if a factual description of something cannot directly substitute for a direct experience of it then the factual description can't be true. That's not the appropriate standard for determining the truth of such descriptions. It's such an obvious error it's almost hard to explain it coherently, but I run into it rather regularly.
I'm not saying that art doesn't have or can't have subtle and wonderful qualities, or even ones that it is hard to explain in perfect detail, but that's a different thing from claiming that it has some magical quality that inherently defies understanding.
"James Cowman's user's guide on composition and Dynamic Symmetry, in particular, was one of the greatest milestones on my journey of becoming a better artist. Dynamicsymmetryart.com is undoubtedly the best resource on the subject out there, which I keep recommending to anyone interested in taking their compositions to a new level. It shocks me that even otherwise excellent artists today often know nothing about these old systems and rely mostly on their intuition to create their compositions. It's time that artists rediscover and revive the lost knowledge of the old masters and bring art back to its former glory. Jame's user's guide is a unique and invaluable resource in this effort." - Storm Engineer
"Jim offers something that is almost impossible to find online: a truly one-of-a-kind resource. His information about Dynamic Symmetry is meticulously researched and comes from a place of knowledge and genuine interest, not sales, as so many educational sites do. Reading his surprisingly accessible work has helped me to grow artistically in a deliberate and satisfying way. I return to Dynamic Symmetry Art regularly and always learn something new." - Rebecca Isenhart
"The information provided in The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist has been a tremendous resource for me as an artist and photographer. My photography work has improved tremendously, and all of my clients agree! I'll continue to share this user's guide with all of my peers and other creative artists." - Zine Massey
"I just graduated from the BFA in Graphic Design at the Federal University of Pernambuco, in Brazil, and one of the chapters of my monograph was about composition. As a motion designer, the proper layout of elements is a very important phase in my creative process, so any tool that helps with making decisions on that is very valuable. What I love about your studies is that it's full of images and resources, it's a gold mine in my opinion. Thanks for providing so much information at an affordable price." - Eveline Falcão
"The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist deserves to be a physical book in Barnes & Noble & on my coffee table!" - Elliot McGucken
"The Art of Composition: A Dynamic Symmetry User's Guide for the Modern Artist is, without a doubt, one of the most comprehensive e-books ever written on the topic of design in art. Whether you're a beginner, intermediate, or advanced art/photography student, this user's guide is indispensable. I recommend it to all of my artists and photographers and have it linked to my website The Artist Angle." - Jennifer Finley "Though I am not a newcomer to photography, I am far from being a professional. So too, it has only been in the past few months that I discovered dynamicsymmetryart.com. I was transformed from being concerned with camera equipment, f-stops, shutter speed, ISO to considering how I would apply the principles of classical art training to my photography.
As I began reading about the old world masters, including da Vinci, Degas, Rembrandt, and Renoir, I learned that Dynamic Symmetry structurally changed paintings from being passive to active and dynamic. Furthermore, I didn’t realize that a small, yet renowned, group of photographers were well known for using Dynamic Symmetry in their photographs of city life and people. My journey began by reading. The Dynamic Symmetry Art website has numerous resources that gave me a crash course in art and composition. I had to learn about the visual properties of different kinds of rectangles and how each can be divided into compositional elements. Then I began using the Dynamic Symmetry grid overlays in Lightroom to analyze and crop my photos. I have found dynamicsymmetryart.com extremely beneficial, and it has contributed immensely with my efforts to improve as a photographer. Thank you for your commitment to art and art education." - Warren Wish
"With the passing of Myron Barnstone, we lost a great resource on the application of the Rectangles of the Masters and the Golden Section in creating art. But the website dynamicsymmetryart.com is carrying on that work Myron so thoroughly believed in and taught. Dynamic Symmetry can be used in the simplest of ways as well as being infinitely complex if one desires. Great minds such as Leonardo da Vinci recognized the power that this compositional tool offers. Dynamicsymmetryart.com is an amazing reference for artists who are open to exploring the benefits of using Dynamic Symmetry in their work. It applies to all the arts and resonates at a primal level of understanding harmony and beauty. Much thanks to James Cowman for his dedication to furthering this information to the public." - Master Artist and Teacher, Dot Bunn, Red Stone Farm Studio