The World in the Artist’s Eye

“My Eyesight” by Me

The creation of artwork cannot begin without inspiration or the provocation of a strong force to drive the artist to pick up a pencil, paint brush, or in Ed Ruscha’s case, anything that can leave a permanent mark on a canvas. He converts natural elements into art inspired by the most mundane scenes of our daily life.

Many people do not bother to bat a single eye at the small details, but Ruscha credits the world for his art. From fast food restaurants signs to store advertisements and visually pleasing words he works in the beauty he sees in everything for others to appreciate it as much as he does.

How does Ruscha see raw beauty in the ordinary?

Artists commonly have a phenomenon called “synesthesia,” which occurs when seeing a word or hearing a sound, can trigger a secondary sense. Ruscha’s artwork “Honk” features the three primary colors. Seeing the word “honk” implies a loud and aggressive sound portrayed by the bright yellow and red. It stands out from the dark navy blue.

Maureen Seaberg from Psychology Today, mentions how Vincent Van Gogh is a well-known artist with synesthesia. Without the understanding of his phenomenon, people wouldn’t realize that his movement of swirls on the canvas create firework-like visuals for how the colors evoke a certain emotion.

Surprisingly, I haven’t come upon any other authors investigating Ruscha’s amazing phenomenon of synesthesia. I’d like to research his journals or papers to see if he has any personal accounts of the phenomenon. Many artists develop the habit of taking note of the world around them, no matter how minute it may seem to any other person, it can have a special meaning to the artist or author. So, it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary if he kept a collection.

As a painter and musician, having synesthesia can be a blessing when creating new pieces because many things can be a catalyst for inspiration. The chirping of birds, the honking of cars, and even the rustling of leaves can invoke colors into the brain. When I listen or create music, it can inspire me to paint, similar to Melissa McCraken. She indulges in a variety of music to interpret sounds into visuals.

With quarantine limiting us from exploring the vast and grand world, I’ve become more observant and appreciative of the little things in my life. For example, the grass of my front yard has patches of varying hues of green. Being aware of the phenomenon of synesthesia can explain the correlations I create between my beliefs of the tangible world and art. The beauty of life and nature is commonly portrayed in the color green in my scenic paintings.

“Clouded Minded” by Me