"Artists are people who make art. Art is not a genre or a specific talent. . .Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another. . .Art is who we are and what we do. . ." – snippet from Seth Godin's view on art from The Icarus Deception
Hello art lovers!
The above quote is one of many I received from artists and art lovers on Facebook after posing a question to ponder the nature of what art is. I received a few really wonderful and thoughtful comments. And I hope to learn more and deepen the conversation. So keep those comments coming! Defining art is infinite it seems. It is a form of self-expression that is so uniquely defined by the artist or individual alone. Art is a mirror to the inner workings of our soul and creative heart. Art is magical. And through that magic, art connects and deepens our appreciation for ourselves, each other, and our world.
Time shapes art
Historically, through the ages, art in its many forms has been the embodiment of the great spiritual core, around which any society or culture is built. What remains of the art of the past continues to reveal clues to us about its storylines and events. Similarly, the art of our time will shape how future generations come to know, judge, and value each other. Our world today is so incredibly unstable, violent, and uncertain. This aspect of our reality breeds a pervasive fearfulness and a deep need to be comforted in some way – to seek comfort while also desiring to comfort others.
While certain rules and elements do exist in order to execute one's artful creations. We don't want to become trapped by these rules. It is important to think outside the box and stretch your comfort zone. It's important to understand the medium you want to create in, as this builds confidence. And yes, design, composition, form, shape, perspective, color, shadows, soft and hard edges, among other things, play a powerful role in the shaping of artistic paintings. But do take creative risks. Follow the rules in your chosen medium by not completely following the rules!
For example, while fighting the abstract and primitive art trends in schools and in the art world, I read books and art magazines to keep abreast of the latest happenings, but then I make sure to spend time alone in my studio striving for a technical facility that is somewhat frowned upon in the classrooms. I do this deliberately. And this is one way that I take artful risks. And I do this on a regular basis in order to engage in the wonderful freedom that comes from allowing full creative expression not solely confined by rules of the craft itself. As an artist today, I try going about my work in a completely different manner that is authentic and true to my inner core. The feeling is one of joy and a certain inner spiritual connection to the work itself.
Bending the rules
"Shake things up," said gallery owner Steve Diamante of Arcadia Gallery in New York. "It seems to me that so much of contemporary representational painting is looking the same. . .some kind of rehash of academic work that has already been done. . .and done by better artists."
Diamante goes on to say in his writing, "I have tremendous respect for classical realists, but I think that phrase is overused and connotes a certain type of imagery. Contemporary realism means someone who is doing representational work, but the imagery is evocative of what is going on today. Contemporary imagery doesn’t just have to be romantic or beautiful. And it doesn’t have to be about war or occupying Wall Street. It’s about taking the skills you learned and making them your own and having them speak to what is going on today."
Dear readers, what do you think? Does Diamante make a good point?
I think people are inspired to create any number of things along their personal journeys – some real – some imagined. Some people arrive at creative points in superbly dramatic ways while others, lost in thoughts and feelings, are able to pull from the depths of their being in such a way that the results are often transformative. This natural creative process can work to "shake things up" organically.
I am destined to create using the old masters' technique and materials for a far-ranging language by adding red and blue lights to create a contemporary ambience. I also expand my subject matter into a known "genre" painting to show people doing simple things that people do together. This creates connection. For example, laughing, singing, pausing for a cup of coffee, enjoying erotic and sensual moments, and snuggling and cuddling. These moments of connection capture an inner desire and longing we all have. This universal truth adds to collective awareness of our need for connection, and could, if allowed, promote healing.
I feel Art or "the Arts," in many of its forms, such as sculpture, painting (in any medium), theater, literature, poetry, and dance, to name a few, move to inspire others. These creative vehicles enhance our quality of life, enrich our experiences, are transformative, insightful, and encourage personal and even collective growth.
The uniqueness of anyone's work or expression lies in the fact that execution of it is firmly based on theories and techniques (those rules again!) which can be traced back to the Renaissance, where the subject matter is pertinent to the present day. Those pesky rules for mixing colors, for example, are just as valid today as they were 500 years ago, but today different artists play with the mixtures – they shake things up – in a way that yields a brighter palette for a contemporary subject matter.
Dear readers, how do you shake things up as an artist? How do you follow the rules without following the rules? Please share in the comments below.
Remove fear and uncork your inner artist
Have you got what it takes to be an artist? The following are my top ten things a creator needs to succeed. Please add your tips and suggestions in the comments below. I would love to hear them!
Christopher B Mooney
REALLY: My Blog.