Before you get out of bed, go for a run, lift some weights, play the piano or reach for the stars; before all these things and more, you must first stretch. As Master Oogway instructed Kung Fu Panda, “If you only do what you can do, you will never be more than you are now.”

Why is this important to an artist or an art enthusiast? One example is found in the use of the word “stretch” in visual arts; it is used often and applied liberally as a way to push the creative mind beyond the limits of the perceivable and into the realm of the magical.

An extreme example of this “push” or “stretch” is noted with methods employed by Salvador Dali pioneered, “what he coined ‘paranoiac-critical method,’ where he would tap into his subconscious to unlock his inner creativity and imagination. Upon entering his self-imposed delirium, Dalí would paint the hallucinatory images he visualized, often times juxtaposing images not usually related to one another. Continually applying this method to his art as well as to other aspects of his life, Dalí aimed to access his full creativity and translate that creativity into his exemplary art pieces.” (https://theculturetrip.com/europe/spain/articles/salvador-dali-the-life-of-the-iconic-surrealist/)

Another great from the abstract expressionist era, Robert Rauschenberg, was a student of Bauhaus artist Josef Albers. The stringent disciplinary method Albers employed to learning the Modernist form prompted Rauschenberg to do “exactly the reverse” of Albers directives. Yes, Rauschenberg found his own artistic voice by rebelling against the norm. https://culturitheculturetrip.com/…/salvador-dali-the-life-of-the-iconic-surrealistsed.co.uk/2017/01/rauschenberg-tate-modern/

To be sure, rebels tend to make their mark by looking outside the boundaries of the norm for stimulus as a way to deliver a message to the viewer, if not to simply learn more about the function of art itself.

Vincent Van Gogh, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Jasper Johns, Robert Indiana, Yayoi Kusama, Jann Haworth, Banksy, and Jim Carrey (yes THAT Jim Carrey) just to name a few are all artists who, in their time or in present day, have sought to push the boundaries of visual art to express ideas, make a political statement, entice the audience, study light and color, and so on.

Ariela Gittlen, in the April 2018 Artsey.net article gives us some exciting examples of “pushing” paper; that is, how 6 artists used paper to stretch their creative ideas and render strong, challenging and engaging art. https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-6-artists-pushing-limits-paper

The one thing they all have in common is an unorthodox approach to making their statement. Additionally, they all did so not necessarily to shock the viewer but more to make the audience take notice and talk about the art through the deliberate and thoughtfully execution of the work. They sought to engage their audience in a dialog of visual imagery; a dance so to speak.

What will it take for you to stretch your imagination in a deliberate way? Whether you are a student artist, a long-practiced art professional or an art enthusiast seeking to learn more about this fascinating field of fine art, be more than you are now. Do more than what you CAN do. Stretch to do what you MUST do.