Did you ever have the experience of being on vacation – say you went to the mountains on a skiing trip – and while atop the slope you saw some spectacular view that you wanted to capture, so you snapped a photo?
Back home when you’re telling your friends about your wonderful vacation, you whip out those photos and there it is … still beautiful for sure … still conjuring up those great memories … but it’s lost some of its umph. Because that small picture just isn’t the same as standing in the actual scene where it’s above you, behind you, in front and all around you. Where you can hear it and smell it and experience it with all of your senses.
Your little photo doesn’t do justice to the setting nor the experience. The camera just records the facts in front of it. Videos are a bit better, where you have the advantage of sound and motion, especially if you are recording people or events. Even so, a lens is just a lens, whether it’s digital or the traditional kind. It only captures the raw facts.
Unless, of course, you are the pro who turns it into art … the pro who is a creative with a pony, who knows that their photo has to do more than merely deliver facts, it has to tell a story. The camera captured the facts, the photographer, remembering the moment, captured the emotion, and a mere photo is transformed into art. That photographer knew how to “ride his pony” … i.e. he knew how to let his emotions flow into his work. And that energy is communicated through the art and is picked up on by the viewer.
It’s a skill that develops naturally as a creative learns how to hone their craft. They’e born with the raw talent and as they learn and grow in their skills and tools, all that intense energy that is their “pony” begins to come through and shine through their work. As they grow in their art, they become better and better at communicating their message through their art.
In the writing world, it’s called “finding your voice”. In truth, artists of all art forms have a “voice”. It simply means that they are aware of their own thoughts and emotions to the extent that those thoughts and emotions are expressed through the work they produce. And the message gets picked up and understood by their viewers, readers, and audiences. It might all occur on a purely subconscious level … all the viewer knows is that the art really “spoke” to them, and they really liked it (or maybe didn’t like it), because it caused an emotional reaction when they experienced it.
It all sounds a bit magical and spooky, but it’s very natural and just the way humans are put together. We are spiritual, emotional, and physical creatures and we communicate on all three levels. Creatives are generally more in tune with their emotional and spiritual levels, and they are moved to express their emotions and thoughts through some form of art.
Except for music, most forms of artistic expression are physical and visual. When first developing their raw talent, a creative’s efforts will mostly be concentrated on learning their medium. As they begin to master their medium, they begin to realize that art is not just about copying something … it’s about saying something. And the more in tune they are about their own emotions, thoughts and how they relate to their world, the closer they will get to finding their voice and their style … this is what having a pony is all about.
It’s a very intuitive process. You can’t just go take a course to find out how to do it. More than something you can pursue and gain, it is rather more like a byproduct that results as you grow in your craft.
An art work can be very skillfully and realistically rendered – just the facts are presented – and it only communicates on the physical level. It’s impressive, because of the technical skills of the artist, but you’re not likely to have an emotional reaction to it and it’s not memorable. You’re impressed, but you won’t be thinking about it later. It’s just a nice piece of art.
Another art work maybe won’t be drafted so technically perfect, or perhaps it’s very loose and abstract … regardless, you are irresistibly drawn to it. It brings to mind a memory or a thought. Maybe it’s the colors or the arrangement of the elements. It might make you smile, or perhaps it’s disturbing in some way … it evokes emotions. Because of the emotional impact it has, you will be thinking about it later. It’s communicating on an emotional level as well as the physical level. Now we’re talking about great art!
Now we’ve stumbled upon the storyteller’s secret …