How can i Make my Art Meaningful with Soul

To make art meaningful is a subjective endeavor. Obviously, what is meaningful to one may be trite to another. If your art has “soul”, it is likely to move someone to feel some emotion. Art that has no “soul” is often spoken of as flat. It is also true that whether someone actually is moved by your art may have everything to do with their own life experiences and the degree to which each viewer can relate to the work.

Kandinsky said “art is an outward expression of an inner content”. This is a relatively new concept. It is a modern view of art that began around the turn of the 20th century. Prior to that, artists did not necessarily think in terms of soul and meaning in art. And it is important to understand that some art is simply decorative and beautiful but does not contain any specific meaning or context.

What are you saying and why?

If you wish to create art that has “soul” and is meaningful, you must draw on your inner content. Even then you may not be successful in conveying that to the viewer. You must ask yourself what it is you are trying to convey to the viewer and why. Is it because you want them to become simpatico with you in some way? Do you want to share your angst about a particular issue? Is it for the purpose of making a comment on society or an event? Do you want to cause change in the culture? Are you trying to be provocative? Take some time to explore these questions.

What personal resources do you have to draw upon?

Take for example the work of Edvard Munch. He was painfully acquainted with death. His anguish is shown in the colors and the quality of line that he uses. The internal vibrations of his soul are palpable by the visual elements on his canvas.

Van Gogh in his painting Starry Night shows an expansive sky with swirling stars. His isolation and smallness in comparison to the heavens is apparent. He painted it from the asylum. It is almost frightening and overwhelming, but at the same time beautiful and full of life and movement out beyond the walls of the asylum.

Take some time to explore those elements of your life when you felt strongly about something. Remember details of the emotions that accompanied that time. Did you feel small, big, isolated, frightened, joyful? Nail it down and then think of ways to represent that feeling. Use colors, line and composition or texture that reflect the emotional and spiritual aspects of the inner content.

Do what makes sense.

In Picasso’s painting, Guernica, you just know something horrible has happened. Bodies broken, anguish on the faces, painted in black, gray and white. Now he could have painted some planes bombing a village but that was not his point of view. He wanted to show the anguish, not the bombs.

In Jacques-Louis David’s painting, The Death of Marat, David uses light to make the dead Marat look almost Christ-like. It makes sense because he wants the viewer to think of Marat as a sacrificial lamb of sorts.

Take some time and explore how you can cause your viewer to relate to your work. How can you place them into the soul of the work? Think of ways that you might exaggerate some aspect of your work to draw attention or to emphasize a point. Or perhaps there is something that would be subtle but poignant that would make the point more effectively.

Avoid clichés and avoid being trite.

There is nothing that kills the soul of a painting or work of art than triteness and clichés. For example if you wanted to show a contrast of strength and vulnerability, a cliché would be to show a strong muscular man holding a little baby. Sweet, but done a million times over. If your mind goes immediately to an image like that then you probably have not taken enough time to really explore the topic. Save trite for your line of Hallmark cards.