Take the word "Realism", for a start. Realism links up with previous Realist art movements. According to Wikipedia, "Realism is a visual art style that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see. Realists render everyday characters, situations, dilemmas, and objects, all in verisimiltude. They tend to discard theatrical drama, lofty subjects and classical forms in favor of commonplace themes." It also states, "Gustave Courbet is credited with coining the term, which pins "Realism" (capital R) down to the 19th century. However, realism (without the capital) links with "realistic", which now links up with every artist who as ever depicted something which looks like the "real" world! And this is far too broad a definition to be useful.
"Realism is a visual art style that depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see."
This, at least, is of some use. The advantage here is that when the content of the picture depicts - or appears to depict - the real world, the the artist is using a visual language with which most people are familiar. It makes the artwork instantly accessible to the majority of people, not just a few, specialist, "art trained" connoisseurs. I want my work to be accessible to the majority, not just a tiny proportion of the population. So I can use this to make up a clause:
"Experiential Realism depicts the actuality of what the eyes can see."
However, note the use of the word "depicts". An artist uses paint, reality uses real light, real trees, real grass, etc. So an artist has to use his skill and knowledge of his medium to persuade the viewer that what he is painting really exists. I would go slightly further. If an artist paints an apple and the viewer sees a painting of an apple, then the artist has failed. When the viewer looks at the picture and sees an apple, then the artist has succeeded! The medium is not the message, merely the means of transmitting it.
So I think that the clause can become:
"The Experiential Realist artist uses their skill to represent the actuality of what the eyes can see."
The Realist art movement of the 19th century also links up with a number of other "Realisms", which are worth looking at as part of a general search for enlightenment. Note, "Realists render everyday characters, situations, dilemmas, and objects, all in verisimiltude." This is something I have a lot of sympathy with. It also links up with "Social Realism" and "Socialist Realism" (which was more specifically linked to Communism). However, both Social and Socialist Realism were linked to particular political aims and ideals. For my own part, in depicting everday places and events I have no motive other than I think that they are worth celebrating. So if I was to use this part of the definition of Realism as another clause, I think that it must become:
"The Experiential Realist renders everyday places, characters, situations, dilemmas, and objects, all in verisimilitude, as being of interest and importance."
Note that this definition does not exclude the painter of the natural landscape. I enjoy - occasionally - the world of nature. But as a painter, I am more more interested in the way that people interact with their environment! That is just my personal bias, so it has no part in a general definition.
"They (Realists) tend to discard theatrical drama, lofty subjects and classical forms in favor of commonplace themes." Classical Realism is a late 20th century art movement which placed "a high value upon skill and beauty, combining elements of 19th century neoclassicism and realism. My problem with this movement is not that I decry skill, but that the classical style makes you too aware of it. Hence the skill, rather than the subject, becomes the message. It is the same problem as the one that I have with Photorealism. Also the "high value" placed on "beauty" means, to my mind, the acceptance of pre-existing ideals of beauty. I want to challenge the viewer to see beauty where they might not always have previously considered it to exist, frequently in the ordinary and mundane. So it might be fair to add the following:
"The Experiential Realist finds and depicts beauty through their own experience."
Another art movement worth considering is "Magic Realism". In some ways, René Magritte is a good representative of this style. The paintings are incredibly realistic - at least, at first glance - but then involve surrealist/magical/mystical elements. The bit which I find useful is the notion of a mystical or transcendental element. I do not feel any need to introduce incongruous elements into my paintings of the Experiential Realist type. For me, the magic is in my own awareness of the original scene or situation and in my attempt to transmit this to the viewer. But I am not sure that, as yet, I can define a clause to properly express this! However, perhaps it is possible to say that:
"The Experiential Realist allows their awareness of the situation and circumstances of the subject to influence their perceptions and the way that they expresses them."
By this I mean the sort of thing that I wrote about some time ago, in my blog, " Thinking about Painting", the manner in which we "scan" a scene, focusing on different things at different times. Things that we pay particular attention to can appear brighter and sharper, etc.
In all, I appear to have ended up with four clauses for the General Manifesto that I think I can stand by:
The Experiential Realist:
- Uses their skill to represent the actuality of what the eyes can see.
- Renders everyday places, characters, situations, dilemmas, and objects, all in verisimilitude, as being of interest and importance.
- Finds and depicts beauty (and ugliness) through their own experience.
- Allows their awareness of the situation and circumstances of the subject to influence their perceptions and the way that they expresses them.