“The Essence” 


What is “The Essence”  in Art

Rasna, commonly mentioned in ancient Indian art ,‘the very essence of’…. refers to capturing the feeling of a subject, whether it be a coffee pot, a person, the ocean or even an emotion. A truly creative artist strives to utilise their practical skills and the foundation principles of composition and design to express this “essence” in an art work or across a body of work.

Since cameras came into everyday use, the technical skill of creating a realistic likeness of a subject is not so exciting or stimulating to many art viewers or to many artists. As viewers of art we each bring our own interpretations and we respond to the artist’s use of the elements and principles, each in our own quite personal way.


* Painting is a blind person’s profession. We paint not what we see, but what we feel, what we tell ourself about what we have seen.

Today ,much about art has to do with aggressive marketing and hype, and this inevitably introduces an element of arbitrariness that complicates the picture enormously, as people are culturally influenced by what other people say they should respond to. Me-tooism is a colloquial Americanism hailing from the late 1800s and no industry witnesses it’s use more than the art world. “Movements” where one after another artist jumps on one bandwagon or another, using a collective name or description to validate their work. Dealers and curators create the hype and if they are to be believed, an apparent trend toward one style or another forms and art buyers find themselves joining the me-tooism wagon.

picasso heads

eg.Picasso was hailed as a genius , he ‘transcended perspective’, but look back to Indian and African art, two huge influences on his development of new styles. These styles did a similar thing (exaggerated perspective and form) , but WHEN Europeans were exposed to these exaggerated expressions in art, it was called primitive.

In fact Picasso once said ‘all artists borrow, the important thing it to make it your own”. He borrowed from primitive canons or systems of art

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.. “     

“To copy others is necessary, but to copy oneself is pathetic. “ (I believe he was responding top those who criticised him from moving from one different series and approach to another)

Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.

“It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child.

and when challenged about his many diverse themes and styles he replied “God is really only another artist. He invented the giraffe, the elephant and the cat. He has no real style, He just goes on trying other things. “

“Success is dangerous. One begins to copy oneself, and to copy oneself is more dangerous than to copy others. It leads to sterility. “

As a fine artist I have often received similar comments i.e.why do you have so many series?  

My answer? If you are a creative person, why not?? (the reason for some to churn out a slightly different version of the same look over and over and over again, is commerciality. Artists seek recognition and an income, so to enable a dealer or gallerist to  constantly promote a consistent ”product”, they don’t dare explore too far away from that which has seen a degree of success.

I’ll leave this article with one of my favourite artist’s quote:

It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.  Leonardo Da Vinci

 Article from  Jennifer Webb, Artist in Residence and Director at Port Art Gallery

© Port Art Gallery 2018 , 384 Bay street. Port Melbourne, Victoria. Australia.  Returns and Freight Policies , Contact