Of course you can find art in Art Galleries. And hanging on the walls of your local cafes, pubs and shops. But there is much more to find. From the earliest days of mankind, we have sought, and found, art in many places. The skies have been a particularly common source of inspiration, as shown by our constellation names dating back to antiquity. The structure of plants shows us patterns and sequences. Animals seem full of Art, in their furs, their plumage, and their songs. A running stream can etch decorative lines in the sand or rock, and who can deny the beauty of a fiery sunset? There seem so many places to find art, it can be difficult to know where to start.
My (ir)regular route for inspiration takes me through woodlands and along the banks of the local river. Full of wildlife, and flora and fauna of all kinds, and constantly changing, there is always something to catch your eye. This section of algae-covered river is apparently home to a family of ducks, who have left evidence of their movements in the green coating, leaving a pattern similar to the branches of a tree. Nature provides many such opportunities for art, from fractal forms to the patterns made by birds in flight, not to mention the many and various textures including tree bark, fields of grass or corn, and still water, with its reflections.
But do not think Nature is the only creator of Art! Even when not intentionally making Art, mankind produces much that has aesthetic value. From the graceful lines of an aeroplane's wings to the stark engineered form of a steel bridge, and the evening view of a city’s skyline, we can find Art in the least likely places. We strive for efficiency in design, and it was architect Lois Sullivan who first coined the phrase “form follows function”, meaning that a design must Function first, and Form will follow from that. A well designed work will be aesthetic, purely from the quality of its design and craftsmanship. With this in mind, looking for Art amongst the man-made becomes a simple task, reduced to ‘merely’ looking for quality.
An interesting area to search for Art is the interaction of Mankind and Nature. This takes many forms; an aeroplane’s contrails across a view of the moon, a bridge over a river, ducks walking on a concrete path, or to take it to more extreme cases, pictures of things we cannot see with the unaided eye - distant galaxies, microscopic particles, light beyond our visible spectrum. Nature will exist with or without us, but wherever we do touch it, we will take our Art to it, and from it. Some of the most interesting are those that juxtapose the straight lines of Man with the curves and wrinkles of the Natural World.
In conclusion, Art can be found anywhere.
This may seem a little trite, but it can be worthwhile reminding oneself occaionally.
Usually, one will be looking for a certain type of Art, whether that be natural, architectural, abstract or any of the plethora of styles and genres. But do not let this blind you to the other opportunities to find Art in the most unexpected places.
Do not forget about the changing scales, and miss the insect sat upon a car, because you were looking for a panoramic landscape, or miss a moonrise while searching for interesting archways. Take a moment to re-assess your surroundings, and your approach to your Art.
When beginning an artwork, we often mentally frame the piece. Try zooming in, or out, of this frame. Twist it, turn it sideways. Look back through it, as a mirror. Concentrate on different colours, or contexts, within it.
Keep Looking For New Art!