Cartoon of me at art school
In contemporary art anything goes! Artists have ultimate freedom! No rules! Break rules! Push boundaries! Explore! Create! Be original! Be daring! Be courageous! Be bold!
There is no paradigm, no truth that holds art together. Unlike music which has an agreed set of notes and scales, a form from which to create from and from which to break the rules. Artists can do anything and call it art! Any medium goes. The formless – well that sounds easy! Just let go and make art ….
Alexander Technique – I prefer the name Alexander Principle – has a paradigm at the core of it. That is why I love it so much. It is reliable, interesting, illuminating. A technique implies something one learns, practices and imposes. A principle is the truth. True for all. Something to uncover and reveal, something to understand. The head neck back relationship governs the functioning of the body, our thinking effects our functioning. How does your head balance on your neck? Posture and poise – posture an imposition, poise a truth!
I am thinking that the reason Alexander Technique is taught to actors, riders and musicians, for example, rather than regularly to artists and at art school is because the head neck back relationship more obviously improves performance in music or riding. Don’t pull your head back and your voice will sound better. Find balance and your horse is free to balance and move. Is this true in art where there is no agreed form from which to observe from?
I know as an artist that my ability to stay in the core of not knowing, the freedom to create, is vastly enhanced by learning Alexander’s principles. I know I have only dipped the surface of what is possible allowing freedom as an artist. One can so easily get caught up in technique – how to apply oil to canvas for example or simply paying one’s own way. One can be limited by other peoples taste and judgement and by our own.
Having no boundaries can create a muddy puddle, energy simply seeping and disappearing – a river is channelled by its sides and flows forward. Form containing the formless. Water directed by structure.
So as an artist what is the channel?
The channel your intention, your focus, your desire to create, your passion?
Forward and up in focus feeling your way forward not knowing?
An understanding of how the channels of flow in the body work?
An ability to be freely balancing and notice when you are not?
Artists and anatomists worked together historically, dissecting and drawing to understand the human body. Science and Art. Anatomy is at the core of art. The bones of it. I believe that knowing how to draw the human body is a key to freedom. A license to do what you want. I am a bit old fashioned that way perhaps. Life drawing classes have been at the heart of art training for centuries. Drawing from the body giving a framework to a body of art – both the form and formless. The artist and the artwork. Drawing the skeleton, muscles and person to enhance inner and outer knowing. Alexander’s ‘directions’ an art form, an anatomical skeleton of awareness. Paintbrushes of thought drawing our whole self to its poised potential within and without – our key to freedom in creativity.
I wish I had been taught Alexander’s principles and actual anatomy at art school rather than just sitting in front of a naked body hour after hour and drawing it without any understanding of the balance of the human form, mine or the model.
Is learning about balance a way of understanding both form and the formless and freeing our creativity? The art of art!
If you are interested in learning more about Alexander Technique you may be interested in my media download Body Magic – here is a link.