Everyday Art

Before I began this art journey — back in 2015 — I really had no idea what it meant to be an artist. I naively believed that being an artist simply meant you were able to pick up a pencil and draw whatever you wanted, and that if you wanted, you could then go on to pick up a paintbrush, a colored pencil, an ink pen — anything, really — and create art.

That’s a short-sighted view of artists and arts, but back then, having never been an artist, I really had no idea what art was all about. Hence, this journey, this discovery of art. I’ve been eagerly hiking along this pathway for five years now. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve become an artist in my own right, and I’ve realized that the world of art is a lot larger than I’d ever imagined.

Before I go on, let me offer this warning: Some of what I write today might offend certain artists. That’s not my intent, however. I’m sharing observations and thoughts — some from my own experience, others from remarks people have made or articles I’ve read. There are bound to be differences of opinions where art is concerned. We each see art differently; we each have our own ideas of what art is.

To me, I’ve always seen “art” as representational. True artists, I believed, created works of recognizable people, places, and things. While I enjoyed a lot of abstract art — Jackson Pollock is a favorite — I saw those works from a slightly different perspective. Pollock and others like him were still artists because they had the ability to draw and paint in a representational manner. They chose to do otherwise. Their works weren’t so much paeans to the gods of art as they were hymns in praise of a greater creative spirit. Their abstracts had energy, life, emotion, color!

But all of those thoughts were from the past, from the days before I began learning and developing my own artistic abilities. I think my vision has now expanded. I understand the principles of art — the concepts of rhythm, balance, harmony, and other elements — so I can see them in many places.

So, what of acrylic pouring? What of my early-morning watercolor play time where I do nothing more than splash colors on paper and watch them dance around? What about alcohol inks dabbled into random creations?

Are those things also art? I think they are, but I’m not sure others agree with me.

And what about all those “fun” little art projects — like turning gourds in snowmen, birdhouses, or even lamps? What about tie-dye? Weaving? Embroidery? What about all the rock-painters out there? Are they artists, too?

I think they are. But, I’ve heard opinions to the contrary. According to some folks, there are arts and then there are crafts, and never the twain shall meet! At least not under the guise of our “fine arts” associations. I can see the thought process here, and maybe I’ll go so far as to agree that there is a distinction between art and craft, but one doesn’t necessarily exclude the other. They can’t be fairly judged against each other, but that doesn’t mean that one is better than the other… does it?

I’ve participated in art shows in which only “fine art” was accepted. I’ve also taken part in shows where there were separate categories for jewelry, fabric art, woodwork, and more! In fact, at a show last year, the “best in show” award went to a portrait that was “painted” with thread. In another show, the “People’s Choice” award went to a work of “fabric art”.

Yet, I’ve also heard judges disparage non-traditional art forms, pushing them aside as being “too crafty”, viewing them as lesser works because “it’s all random,” or finding them flawed because “there’s no meaning or intention there.”

With abstract art, we’ve all heard, I’m sure, those disparaging claims that “my five-year-old could have done that!” To explore this idea, please check out this article:

Masterpiece by a Renowned Artist…Or a 5-Year-Old Child: You Be the Judge

Don’t have time to click and read? No problem. Just take a look below. Which “work of art” was created by a well-known abstract expressionist painter and which was drawn by a child?

Which is Which

I recently received the latest issue of Artist magazine. You know how much I enjoy the magazine and how much I look forward to reading it! Each issue has a variety of articles on different topics, but there’s generally an overall theme running through it all. With the September issue, that theme is “everyday art”.

Boy, did that get me thinking!

I haven’t yet read through the issue and the different articles, but my brain has been going full-speed ahead, asking a lot of questions.

Is textile design an art?

Is needlework an art?

Is a beautiful bedspread a work of art?

Is the overall decor in a home a form of art?

Quilts?

Ceramics?

Greeting cards?

Painted rocks?

Pillows?

I could, of course, go on and on to include many more “arts and crafts”, many of which might not normally be considered “art” — but where do we draw the line?

How about this… is this art?

landscape-embroidery-sew-beautiful-3

Colorful Embroidered Landscapes Celebrates the Beauty of Mother Nature

I think it is. I think it’s beautiful. I think it’s masterful. I think it deserves to be called art, should be accepted in a gallery or a showing, and should be proudly displayed, but I also think it should have its own category.

I thought, too, of artifacts from different cultures which are collected and shown as art, such as those in the African Art collection I saw at the Albrecht Kemper Gallery in St. Joseph, Missouri. Seeing the exhibit helped me develop as an artist as I learned more about how our individual voices are expressed in art. Today, I think of this collection with the realization that these statues and other artifacts probably weren’t created to be art. They were useful items, decorative items, everyday items.

ak-8
From the Sabates African Collection

So, now, I’m sitting here today, once again pondering those unanswerable questions about what art is and what makes it art. It isn’t beauty. It isn’t color. It isn’t any single thing or any specific set of things.

All I can really say is that we each have our own ideas on what art is. We each know what we like and what we don’t like. I think, at some level, that anything can be seen as a work of art if that’s how we choose to see it.

What are your thoughts?

 

19 Comments

  1. It’s a great question. What is “art” and what is “craft” and where is the overlap? Is art a craft? Is craft an art? I have always been drawn to arts and crafts, some I like more than others, but that’s a personal bias. For example, I may be fascinated by gourd art but generally disinterested in embroidery. They both require skill, time, creativity, etc, but are very different crafts, or art forms, or whatever you want to call them. My dad is an artist and while I have a great appreciation for the traditional view of “fine arts” – I believe the arts encompass a vast creative realm.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! This is a question I’d nearly really thought too much about in the past — since I could do neither LOL. Now, having “become” an artist, I think I do draw some distinctions between art and craft. I know members of the art clubs I belong to have very definite feelings on the subject. Many of them feel that “art” — the word — should be reserved for “fine art” only and that anything else should be referred to as “craft”. I personally think creativity is the basis for all art, and that it’s the key element in visual art. To me, if a work lacks originality and a sense of creativity, it might be lovely to look at but it’s not art in the truest sense. Maybe this is why I’m not a fan of hyper-realism. Art should be about personal expression — in whatever form we choose to use. There are so many questions to consider! If I were a potter and made a set of dishes to exhibit as art, yes, that would be art. If I made a set of dishes to use everyday… would that be art? In other words, do we have to intentionally be creating art in order to call it art? Oh, I could probably go on with this all day long! But there aren’t any answers to the questions. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Art I think certainly can be called art in some crafts. Before, I would have said this, but over the years, what you say in this post, I agree.
    I will never forget when I was a teenager, a local small pub had what looked like art on the wall. I always admired from afar. Turned out dad liked them too and commented to the barman.
    Barman said his wife created them and that’s when we learnt they were not what we thought they were and had to look up close.
    We thought they were paintings, when actually they were cross stitch.
    Now these were big, like artists would paint. Those cross stitch pictures, were certainly art in my eyes, as they looked like paintings from afar. They still look like paintings to me, when I knew otherwise. A lot of time and work went into those cross stitches on the wall.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Imagine the time and care that went into making those cross-stitch paintings! I admire artists who have the patience for such things, and certainly that IS a form of art. Art, I’ve learned, is everywhere. We just have to be willing to see it. It might not be called “fine art”, but that’s just a category, not a judgment or a determination that it’s “better” art than something else. And even then, “fine” art is a broad classification that can encompass many things. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Art covers so many things. Music dance literature and crafts too. Long ago I was told art serves 3 purposes, decoration, illustration and self expression. If it fits one of those categories it can’t be excluded. Every one has their own feelings about what is art so it’s always an interesting topic but like some other topics, there’s no definite answer as far as I can see.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Absolutely true! There is no definite answer, and I guess this is why I often take issue with the “art critics” who believe they should tell us what is or isn’t art. It’s got to be a personal choice, and that certainly makes the art world an interesting place!

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I make art. I used to teach art to both children and adults. My definition of art is quite simply, visual expression. I have to say it annoys me when people pontificate over what is art is what is not art. No such attention is paid to writing such as, is this writing or is this not writing, or is this dance or is this not dance? Cave art is art. It is the expression of people who lived long ago. Children’s art is art. It is their visual expression. We should not let our own biases define what others work is or isn’t. That is one reason why many avoid the joy of artistic expression all together.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent points. I will say there is something of a similar discussion among writers — is it literature, is it drivel — but not to the extent we see it in visual arts. In some of the art clubs I belong to, the question isn’t so much about “art” but about whether a work should qualify as “fine art”. That’s where a lot of the “snootiness” and pretention comes in, I think. Thank you so much for visiting and sharing your feelings.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. there is for me an energy that comes from art. like when i stand in front of a painting and feel the energy like a sun sometimes subtle some times blazing come off it. I am particular susceptible to Rothko in person. a few minutes in front of one of those and is my coffee intake for the day.the works above strike me that way – the artists energy pulses off them and so I would call them art. in my humble opinion. glad to have found this page. hope to explore more. cheers Judith & co.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for visiting and sharing your thoughts… especially the thoughts of Rothko. I’ve not been a fan, but then, I’ve never seen a Rothko work in person. I wonder if I might feel differently if I did. I do understand the need for expression, and I like your way of comparing that to energy. True, indeed, we can feel energy coming from art. Maybe that’s what that “indefinable something” about art really is. I will keep that thought in mind as I continue my studies and make my own drawings and paintings. Thank you so much!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, that’s true. I’m currently studying a textbook on “Art History”, and it’s interesting to see how ideas about art have changed over time. In the end, though, as you’ve pointed out, we have to decide for ourselves what we call “art”.

      Liked by 1 person

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