Saturday, June 20, 2015

238: The Mechanics of Beauty

I was walking along the foothills of my neighborhood and reflecting on how a large tract of untouched land at the eastern edge of our community has recently been marked for development. I mourned the future loss of such beauty that I have often painted and which has added so much enjoyment to my daily walks.
Morning Solitude, 9" x 10", eight block woodcut

Musing on the futility of preserving such beauty my mind turned to how I could deal with such a loss. I was reminded and encouraged that everyone responds to beauty. Not everyone responds equally, of course, but response to the beauty of nature is innate and will not disappear. Science fiction of the 50s predicted that we would live in communities of steel and glass and eat pills for dinner. Neither of which has happened because the aesthetics of such experiences are out of harmony with human nature.

Even the developers who bulldoze the land will likely build their own homes on land in an isolated and beautiful spot and grace them with paintings of nature much like the land they developed. So how does an artist make peace with such a process? One notion to keep in mind is that beauty is a function of rarity. As more and more people have a variety of cosmetic surgeries to look beautiful more pressure is placed on professional models to transcend that ideal of beauty. The commonality of beauty erodes beauty; the rarity of beauty promotes it. In like manner as beauty is relegated away from our communities more people will cherish natural beauty.

There will be tragic and irrecoverable losses along the way (imagine Central Park being developed for condominiums, or Arches National Park strip-mined for landscaping boulders). But artists must protect our sensitive natures by embracing strategies that will allow us to live peacefully in a world we can't control.

Focusing on the transience of nature helps. Like the feeling of nostalgia we subconsciously know that the arrow of time speeds in one direction only. The ephemeral aspect of nature is why an amazing sunset is so heartbreaking–its beauty will never be repeated. The theories of Nietzsche aside, every beautiful moment is a unique event. If it could be repeated and beauty were a common experience there would be no need for artists.

Brad Teare–June 2015


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Janet. Development is pretty low on the scale of tragedies but when you see it happening nearly everywhere can be overwhelming. Thanks for your empathy!

  2. Brad, I live in Bengaluru which had many lakes, and believe me, each once upon a lake now has turned in to multi storied apartments and they are almost ever where! I still dont miss the beauty of nature though, it may be the tiny droplets on the leaves in my small garden early in the morning, or the visiting little birds, the continuous activity of the sqirrels on my coconut tree, each emphasizes that even the small beautiful things in nature are not a match for the moden developlements by the humans.Thank you for this post.

    1. I really appreciate your positive attitude, Padmaja. I'm trying to look at the bright side. It may be possible that one or more of the people that move into the new neighborhood will become good friends. Plus other areas nearby continue to be beautiful. Many thanks for your comment!

  3. Good morning, Brad.

    My heart aches for what humans have done to this world. As a Christian, I believe in the message that we are called to be good stewards of this world. That is to say, each of us has a responsibility to live in harmony with our world, to promote ecological and environmental health. I also am a believer that consumerism and capitalism are leading factors in the destruction of our planet, along with greed and weak will to prevent polices that foster destruction.

    Sorry to be harsh about this. But my heart aches at the pains of the earth as we humans continue to live out of harmony with it. Yesterday, on the Washington Post, there was an article about how species don't have enough time to adapt to rapidly changing environmental and ecological changes. They said that, like the meteor strike that wiped out nearly all life millions of years ago, that the world is pretty much at another cross roads for extinction, predicting that by 2100, the world's ecological systems will collapse and wipe out much of life.

    I paint to capture the scenes of God's beauty here on earth. These scenes are quickly fading away as humans encroach every inch of our planet. I want to capture in paint those scenes to remember what was, to help people *see* what yet remains, and to try to get people to awaken to the importance of respecting nature around us.

    Padmaja...took a look at online pics of Bengalaru. You are living in a very beautiful city and region with lots of beauty! Looks like there is no shortage of wonderful landscapes to paint and capture on canvas! Wish I could visit one day!


    Let's all be mindful of how important it is to actively do our part to help respect our planet. Consume less. Recycle. Use less energy. Respect fresh water and use it with care. Help our friends and family do the same.

    Thanks for the post, Brad. That's a stellar wood block print. Just amazing work, my friend. Sorry I've been away for so long. Been going through some introspection. Will have a new painting up in a week. I'm in the middle of it now. A gift for my wife, a landscape of Maui. Coming along nicely. It never ceases to amaze me how when painting you can get lost into memory and re-experience the joys of standing by the ocean.

    Memories and experiences are priceless. Live life! Love! And take time to enjoy God's beauty that surround us each and every day!

    1. Very well said, Bob. I appreciate your kind words about the print. I'm getting back into woodcut a bit more these days. Good to hear from you.


Thanks for your comments!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...