Universal Beauty

by Harry Miller May 10, 2017

Let's talk paintings


Hello beautiful people, we're back on the quest to try and find out what actually makes something 'beautiful'.  After the Eye of the Beholder blog confirmed the bleeding obvious, (beauty being subjective), let's now look at what makes a visual piece of art beautiful.  We're talking paintings. 

The DM Collection designs start as pencil sketches, which Daniel laboriously fills in layer upon layer of watercolour paint in an array of pigments (though if you compare and contrast, you'll see he has his favourites!). But what makes for a 'beautiful' painting? 

See the completed Fox in a Meadow design. 

Shop DM Collection art prints

Arguably the prime objective for any painter is to channel their emotions on to the canvas, which in turn tantalises and titillates the viewers emotions.  Some artists are more direct than others in this pursuit, tapping into universal and cultural aesthetic tastes, and others like to push the boundaries of what we consider to be the 'norm'. 

If a painter did want to harness the universal laws of beauty in an attempt to make their composition seemingly attractive to the widest audience, what should they consider?

Well, a good place to start would be the human form - for we are are we not, visually attracted to one another.  You could even go so far to say that all things that we attribute to the desired human form will naturally transcend into our ideas of beauty in general.  Needless to say the human world is full of feminine and masculine symbology, from childbearing vases to imposing phallic skyscrapers.  Our opinion of what's beautiful will also be governed by the more subtle elements of the attractive human form: such as anatomical symmetry which denotes good health, and elegant facial features could lead to the idea that the owner is intelligent and kind - being far removed from our evolutionary link to a brutal animalistic past. 

The human form aside, we also have nature and the natural landscape for inspiration.  If a landscape artist were to paint a piece to appeal to the masses, they may want to include factors which attribute to a healthy and prosperous human environment, such as a water source, trees, flowers, animals, and a sun bearing sky, all of which suggest vitality.

"Green is the prime colour of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises" - Pedro Calderon de la Barca  

But with all things being 'subjective', (notably the buzzword for this topic), you don't have to have an Eden-like composition to make a beautiful looking painting: movement, detail, simplicity, and an element of surprise are all contributing factors too.  The illusion of movement can bring a two dimensional piece of art to life, and even though the use of fine detail can lead to striking realism, simplicity is also noted for its allure - which may suggest a controlled and honest artistic intent, the naked soul of an ideal, the source - and surprise is the unexpected, an additional visual innovation to inspire creative thought from the viewer.

We could say that nature is the template for beauty, but there is one all important factor within the natural world which directly attributes to our ideals of beauty. It is one which - given the DM Collection's subject matter - warrants its own separate blog post: the beauty within the animal kingdom. Watch out for the next instalment! 

Shop the DM Collection prints, reproduced from Daniel Mackie's original hand-painted watercolour designs. 


Harry Miller
Harry Miller


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