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A scanned section of the original painting 'Fierce Pursuit'
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The Dynamic Realist Thought Process

The dynamic realist thought process explores and decodes perceptual consciousness, or more simply put: how the human mind is aware of its surroundings, how it sees and what it is seeing.

Through the advancement of scientific technology, it is now possible to understand which areas of the brain are used to create the formation of mental images. Neurophysiologists know that perception of motion and perception of colour for example are processed in two distinctly separate regions of the brain.

It has become a great puzzle as to how we form a mental image, due to the ingredients that make up that mental image coming from many distinct but widely separated regions of the brain. The puzzling part is that we do not seem to be consciously aware of these distinct parts and their operation when we create and comprehend visual images that we see as our surroundings.

Scan of the active areas of the brain

At the heart of the Dynamic Realist thought process, is the ability to be aware of how these separate areas work and are engaged to form comprehension. The application of this thought process reveals how and to what extent the areas can be consciously made to work independently and in combination to create greater perceptual awareness.

When patrons commission a work they recognise the elements of reality that can be captured within a work of Dynamic Realism and they are asked about the subjects they are interested in and the why of their interest. Abbey Walmsley wants to understand how they appreciate their world and the connection or resonance they have with their chosen subject so that it can be transferred into the work of art.

Dyslexic Beginnings

I credit my dyslexia with giving me the ability to understand and explore the world around me and how my perceptual awareness is generated. It also gave me an immense inner drive to work until something was 'right.'

Due to my dyslexia I became highly aware of my thought processes, and how they appeared to let me down. I always had to go through a process of rechecking to get it 'right' in the eyes of others. I developed all kinds of memory association games to get to the point where was seeing the world how I should, with the letters and words in the right order.

I was very conscious that there was an ever present conflict in my ability to process information – what I wanted to put down on paper was not what I put down, what I wanted to read was not what I read.

It took a large amount of concentration to get my brain to operate and present information as well as others and to keep up with my comprehension. I found myself only learning what I needed to learn to get what I needed, for example I didn't need to learn the words for grammatical expression, I just needed to know why, where and how grammar should be used. I would save energy by cutting these corners, as long as the appearance on the page looked fine. It always played on my mind that despite appearing to know, I was leaving out a lot of learning.

For words I had to learn to read, spell and string together, I often used a visual symbol related to the word or letter as a way to remember and to enable me to correct myself. There was a pattern or framework of thought I employed to stabilise the outcome and to avoid and spot mistakes I had already made.

Art presented another form of communication and one that I excelled at. I could mix colours accurately with no training and portray objects very clearly. Reality and the representation of this, gave me a freedom that I did not have with other forms of communication. The more I practised, the more I was phased, and the more I desired to be more accurate in the depiction of what I was seeing.

I was confused by my peers who to me produced pictures that did not look as if they had tried. At the age of of 12, I remember saying to a friend who had asked me 'how do you make that look so real?' that it was 'simple, just draw what you see, not what you think you see.'

However, when I was fourteen, I was starting to get frustrated, my artwork was considered very good but I felt very strongly that it could be far better. I felt let down by elements of my comprehension that to me showed up very clearly in the artwork, just like the recognition of letters in the wrong place in a word. Then I made a discovery and I really entered the battle ground of 'seeing,' and how to 'see.'

The Battle of Conscious Perception

The separate areas used by the brain to form our conscious perception (identified by neurophysiology) are known to work together to provide us with mental images of the world around us. But these areas do not work together and function quite as seamlessly as we believe them to. We don't often question how effective our sense of perception is, we merely go along with it. Conscious perception isn't normally questioned unless we show very obvious symptoms that reveal a cognitive error, for example: a loss of object recognition.

Colour, Form, Texture

The brain co-ordinates these separate areas that perceive, colour, form, texture, motion, space, sound, tone and a variety of emotions to produce a picture of the 'whole', that we understand to be the reality that surrounds us, and we believe what we are seeing to be 'true'.

Our brains are not conditioned to see things accurately for what is really there. We have adapted our thought processes to perceive only the amount we need to, our lives are busy, our senses are constantly bombarded with information that we are having to process at a rapid rate. We 'see' what we need to see, we get the meaning we looked for and expected and we move onto the next thing.

When looking at a 'whole' image of reality it reveals that although the brain has these multiple areas that generate conscious perception, it only activates the areas for what it needs. The areas are never each and individually fully active, they are not forced to act independently, instead they collaborate as if on automatic pilot. The 'autopilot' is the balancer, it controls how the areas of the brain function together to generate our balanced perception, and how much of each area is called into play when necessary. The 'autopilot' has adapted our sight and assumptive visual orientation occurs.

When we try and portray reality as it really is in artistic communication, a realisation is made that our ability to comprehend the 'whole' is distinctly flawed. Artistic practice has then become a broken analysis of the real.

The real is explored and portrayed in segments, where artists develop an awareness of how to portray a specific area; form, light, colour etc. Mentally the 'whole' has been viewed as too problematic and complex to take on, and those that have tried it, have only got so far and their autopilot has remained on.

When you concentrate on what you are really seeing and you try and represent what you are seeing through artistic endeavour, you encounter the push and pull of activity between the perceptive areas of the brain. This pushing and pulling must be balanced if 'reality' is to be captured, otherwise what you are representing becomes distorted (brighter colours are shown, line is exaggerated, perspective does not work etc.).

Typically this distortion causes frustration for the person, and they give up; 'I can't draw to save my life' is commonly said. To some people this generates a curiosity that is followed and explored and they are known as abstract artists. For the curious, this results in selective areas in the brain (that generate perception of light or colour or line or edges or emotion etc.) becoming more active than others, so the person's 'sight' is more focussed, biased, attracted and acutely aware of selective aspects of reality, which they then chose to communicate through their art.

The driving force behind Dynamic Realism is the pursuit to achieve the most fantastically complex illusions of reality, to see and understand reality so deeply that I can successfully represent it on canvas and paper to the extent that it will astonish in its believability. There is no room for distortion, I was to remain frustrated by my inability to 'see' except, the thought processes learnt through the management of my dyslexia, gave me the key I was looking for, and that key meant I could turn the autopilot off and learn to 'see' again.

Disabling The Auto Pilot

What happens when you switch off the autopilot? Well at first you can't, but this is viewed not as a barrier but as a start point from which to build awareness of how it works. (To change how an engine operates, you must first learn how the current one runs, to allow you to create an agenda for change.)

Your brain is a complex environment in which endless messages are collaborated together that result in the outputs of feeling, action, thought and comprehension. My entire attention was focussed on the areas of the brain that process and perceive images.

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Decoding Reality

I segmented the components that make up what we 'see', and studied how they interacted when recorded on the page, with autopilot on. From this, tests or exercises were given to shake up the normal method used by the brain to relay information about what is seen. Aspects the brain used for reference (colour or perspective or the object itself) were taken away, so certain areas of the brain that make up sight were isolated and separately made to engage and perform.

I began to build up a picture of the attributes of reality and how these attributes effected each other to cause distortion or alignment, this built up a sharpened awareness of when distortion occurred, even to the smallest degree. I gained knowledge of what effect space had on the elements surrounding it at and how the elements were 'seen' as a result of space, how colours when placed together created illusions of other colours, how colour effects space, space effects form, form effects tone, tone effects colour, texture effects form, space effects texture, texture effects perspective, colour effects perspective etc...

When looking at reality, one cannot really 'see' it without this understanding of the elements and the cause and effect they have on each other. Linear thought processes and the use of memory (based on what you have seen before) are useless and interfering when it comes to understanding what is really in-front of you.

Reality is a complex web of inter-connected relationships, it is only when you understand relationships in this way you can have a hope of reconstructing a representation of 'reality' in a work of art. Just because I recognised the elements of reality and their inter-connectivity, didn't mean I could just produce a representation of it - I had to have a formula.

From the decoding process I had learnt patience and a greater depth of awareness. The formula would have to be a method of calculation that prevented and signalled when distortion of an element happened. The formula is necessary because of the huge amount of concentration required to produce an accurate representation of the real. To try it without one, would make it impossible.

The Dynamic Realist formula is a mental map that turns into the physical map on the paper or canvas. I use this map to navigate the elements of the real and discover the territory of the subject depicted.

The subject is chosen and composition defined.

The elements that create the power within the illusion are observed and noted, for example: this could be the location of a subject within the composition, a particular direction of shadow, the size of space around objects, the impact of a specific colour. These areas are considered 'high risk' as they have the ability to distort the comprehension of the 'whole'. Their effect on the 'whole' must be recognised though, to be sure that when the 'whole' is complete, their power as 'seen' in the 'real' at this stage of analysis is still conveyed in the finished piece.

The desired impact of the subjects depicted in the artwork relates to the scale of the canvas or paper chosen. At this stage sizes are tested and visualised for maximum effect. The effect I look for is one that actively engages the viewer with the subject, placing the viewer in the line of travel, of sight, at an angle etc. The window of observation that the composition creates must position the observer as much as it positions the observed.

Canvas or paper is prepared.

A mathematically accurate drawing that identifies the relationship between component parts within a composition is mapped out. This takes a long time because it is the backbone of the artwork; to get this bit wrong would have a dramatic distorting effect that would be recognised and have to be resolved at a later stage. The mathematical drawing is done by hand, no projections on to the surface are ever used. It is a purely mental exercise that importantly starts the relationship I have with the composition.

Dominant planes of colour are identified and 'blocked' in to get rid of interference from other colours not represent in the reality being constructed.

The planes are refined down until the focused major work can begin. Small areas are worked up to a point of perceived accuracy, then left alone to be readdressed at a later stage. When more of the surrounding areas are nearer completion, they give me a more accurate impression from which to measure completeness.

It becomes a rigorous and exhausting cycle of focus, application, checking and cross checking.

During this process my focus is on one art work only, so my understanding of it runs at a constant.

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Unexpected Recoding Results

As the composition takes shape something strange begins to happen, which is hard to put into words. All my works contain an energy, whether the subjects are moving or not.

It is the same type of energy captured by the best abstract artists, they find this energy when, through spontaneous action, they manage to capture an aspect of the real that resonates with the viewer, this can be the beauty of a single line.

My formula by default generates this energy, it seems to come out of the deep awareness I have of reality and it means it is possible to achieve the same sensation of energy through a calculated rather than spontaneous transference.

My works have the appearance of flow, because of the rendering of the paint and graphite, movement and attitude of the subjects depicted. If the art works were pure exercises in mathematics they would not show this, the work would appear static and dead. This has proved that flow does only not come out of spontaneous feeling and application of media, but it is possible to construct flow through a process of deliberate and applied cognition. Flow becomes possible when access to a pure level of consciousness is achieved and relationships are understood.

Further discoveries in the recoding process were found when considering the capabilities of the media I was using and how people perceive form. This gave me the opportunity to explore three-dimension. This became particularly interesting and effective when trying to capture complex illusions of motion and a deeper sense of perspective.

The Dynamic Realist Original Oil Painting 'Fierce Pursuit'

The exploration of time and the mechanics of motion have become a hallmark of Dynamic Realism, but I would never have been able to understand how to capture time or motion effectively without the backbone of my formula and it has only come with practice and deeper contemplation of the interconnected relationships that make up reality.

As my skills at decoding develop I am now testing my abilities to create entirely fictitious constructs of reality to see how far I can push my comprehension.

I have succeeded in moving people away from their expectations linked to previous realist depictions and the perceived capabilities of both graphite and oil paint. I provide them with works of art that mirror back 'life' in a way that strikes a deep resonance and holds a fascination. Ultimately I want to have the ability to capture any subject of reality and produce works on an epic scale.

Why I choose the subjects that I do

People are surrounded by master pieces of represented reality in digital form (tv, film, photography). I have to give them something that will resonate with them to the extent that they will stop and have to make sense that what they are seeing is a construct formed from graphite or oil paint. I want people to be reminded of a real 'life expression' that stands independently from artistic techniques and works of the past.

This is why I aim to depict compositions with movement and psychology present, why subjects aren't posed an non engaging, and why the constructs I choose to are so technically challenging to create that they will create a sense of disbelief and admiration in the viewer. I also want people to be able to to look at a piece and not get bored of what they are seeing, I want them to revisit and navigate it, just as I did when I created it.

These 'life expressions' have been grouped into ecological, historical and cultural subjects in the 'Original Gallery' section of the website.

Commissions – taking patrons back to the point of Why

When patrons want to commission they recognise the elements that can be captured by Dynamic Realism and they are asked about the subjects they are interested in and why. I want to understand how they appreciate their world and the connection or resonance they have with their chosen subject.

This helps me understand how to translate this connectivity into a composition that will reflect it back. We try and identify summary moments of time / behaviour of subjects that will unlock and cause resonance for the patron, and that produces work that inspires them and me.


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