Mind Over Matter

I recently picked up a book called “Amerika,” by Franz Kafka. Knowing that I am a big fan of Herman Hesse’s work, someone suggested I read Kafka, so without much research on my part, I chose this particular book.

I read the foreword by E.L. Doctorow only to find though Kafka originally planned it to be his first novel, he never actually published the work during his lifetime. What I found to be of special interest is that Kafka wrote the book, having never been to America. Instead, the author relied on his research through lectures, books and whatever else he could find on the country, or as Doctorow put it, “Kafka made his first novel from his own mind’s mythic elements and the research data that caught his eye were bent like light rays in a field of gravity.”

I thought about how I do that constantly when I am painting. Being that I may not be as familiar with certain elements in a composition as others, I rely on balancing research with intuition in rendering those same subjects in my work; at times, sacrificing accuracy for the sake of the composition. This way of bending the truth appeared again in a video I watched last week of Leonardo Da Vinci whereby the artist took some liberties rendering the Virgin Mary in a painting called The Annunciation. (Notice the Virgin Mary on the right side of the painting and how awkwardly positioned her right arm is, in addition to its unnaturally large size.)

There are times when I question my process and lately, this topic in particular has been on my mind. Needless to say, the timing of these insights provided me with some needed assurance from other creative minds.