When Does It Stop Being Art?

Here’s a question for you. When does abstract art stop being art? Maybe that sounds like a silly question, but I’d love to hear your thoughts. We’ve previously wrestled around a bit with how and why abstract art can be real art — which I now agree it can be — but do we ever need to draw a line and say, “Sorry, but no, this is not art”…?

A couple days ago I mentioned doing a background for an abstract painting I was getting ready to do. I finished the painting later that day. I do like a lot about it. I love the colors. It feels hopeful in some way. I titled it “I Believe I Can Fly”, because that’s what the painting made me think about, sort of like Peter Pan taking Wendy’s hand and leading her into the unknown.

I can see a lot of things in this abstract painting — or whatever we choose to call it. I can see people, I can see flying, I can see dancing. I can see armies, I can see dragons, I can see disembodied heads! Who knows what you might see in these colorful splatters of paint.

But, that’s the problem. This isn’t really a painting. It’s just splatters of paint, one of the different abstract “techniques” I’m exploring.

You might recall my previous frustrations with creating abstract art, that feeling of wanting to express myself, but not knowing how to do it. Now, I’m learning lots of “how-to” tricks to create abstract art, and while it’s lots of fun, and while I have come away with a few abstracts I like, the experience has led to a new question:

AT WHAT POINT DOES IT STOP BEING ART?

After preparing my background — brown, green, and black — and allowing it to dry, I created this work by simply putting thin acrylic paint in a cup, putting the canvas on the floor of the studio, and then pouring the paint from several feet above, just letting it splatter here and there. I splattered a pale blue first, then repeated the process with white.

All the while I stood there thinking, “This isn’t art. I’m not doing anything. I’m just pouring paint out of a cup.” I actually felt a little silly about the whole technique, or silly, at least, for considering it as art. I did try to “be artistic” in my choice of colors and I did try to think a little about “design principles”, but does that really matter?

I picked up a cup of paint and spilled it onto a canvas, dropping it a distance of several feet so that I would get lots of splatters. Is that really art? I don’t think so. Not really.

So, even as I’m having fun playing with paints and trying various “abstract expression techniques”, I’ve come back around full circle to the conclusion that — and this is going to sound weird — while everything can be art, not everything really is, nor should it be.

Poop in a can, anyone? A banana taped to the wall? A solid blue canvas?

It’s good to have a voice as an artist, but shouldn’t we also have something to say?

 

160 Comments

    1. Is it art? Even if it’s not abstract… well, I still have to question whether something as simple as pouring paint onto a canvas really deserves to be called “art”. What do you think?

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      1. That said, to me the abstract piece I shared in today’s post is definitely not art. It’s an interesting collection of paint splatters but nothing more. 🙂

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      2. For some, it’s the process or experience, the concept or exploration, and others it’s the product or communication, and for some it’s a business transaction. All of that is validated in today’s art world.

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      3. Yes, that’s true, right down to the idea of a “business transaction” being equated with art. Then again, we — as both artists and art consumers — have the right to set our own standards on what we personally consider “art”.

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      4. Absolutely. Monet’s art changed when he got cataract surgery, and he even destroyed previous works that didn’t live up to his standards. Others were shocked at his destruction of art, but it didn’t match the views he thought were important. If I am making art, I want it to reflect my views too.

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      5. I’ve done a few pieces that reflect personal views, and of course, in landscape painting, my hope is that I can provide a narrative that others relate to. Beyond that, though, I’m still very much at a learning stage, so a lot of the drawings and paintings I do are “academic” — ways of learning different techniques, assignments or tutorials I’m following. I do hope to get to a point where I can put more of “myself” into my drawings and paintings.

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      6. That’s a good point. That’s an excellent point, in fact. I had no “inspiration” with this piece — it was just an “abstract technique” I read about and followed along with. All of which reinforces my feeling that this is in no way worthy to be called “art”.

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      7. It takes a lot of practice to learn techniques and keep blood flowing to artistic parts of the mind. I think of it like a pianist practicing scales to prepare for a concert. If I get inspiration but have not developed skills, then how could I attempt to make the things I imagine?

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      8. Very true, and that’s the point I’m at — still learning how to draw, still learning different techniques for the media I’m using. Practice, practice, practice. As a pianist, I can definitely relate to your analogy.

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      9. I believe it is an artistic process; however, there are skill levels. IMHO there are some who randomly pour and can’t tell good from bad, some who can differentiate, and others who are so masterful that they can purposely guide the outcomes to amazing results.

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      10. No, I don’t think it is Art, any chimp could do the same. But I do know someone who has sold some of those. Another question is “can the daubing’s of an animal be called Art?”

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      11. Now, that’s a very good question! I think it can be called “art” but only in a very qualified sense. It’s “animal-created art”, so it’s in a category all its own. That means it’s not art in the traditional sense, and I’m thinking that for me a lot of what makes “art” art is whether or not it would be accepted as such in a typical art show. In the shows where I’ve exhibited, random works (like acrylic pours) are frowned upon. One girl did try to exhibit a few pieces, and yes they were accepted, but the judge told her quite simply that “this is all random.” I overheard the conversation when the girl asked the judge why she hadn’t received any awards. I wouldn’t expect my art to be compared to or judged against “animal-created” art, so yeah, it’s definitely art of a very different sort.

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      12. What,though, if one didn’t know? I believe it.
        Painting donkey

        A painting by Lolo the donkey, Et le soleil s’endormit sur l’Adriatique [fr] (Sunset Over the Adriatic) was exhibited at the 1910 Salon des Indépendants attributed to the ‘excessivist’ Genoan painter Joachim-Raphaël Boronali, an invention of writer and critic Roland Dorgelès. It sold for 400 francs and was donated by Dorgelès to the Orphelinat des Arts. The painting forms part of the permanent collection at l’Espace culturel Paul Bédu (Milly-la-Forêt).

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animal-made_art?wprov=sfla1

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      13. What a fascinating story! I love stories like this. Thank you so much for sharing. I guess, yes, art can be art no matter who makes it. It all depends on how broadly we each choose to interpret “art” for ourselves. I think my personal interpretation is broad enough to make allowances for taste, meaning that I’ll agree something is “art” if someone thinks it is, whether or not I consider it to be so. Case in point, the “abstract” in this post. I don’t consider it art, but some readers do, so, therefore, I’ll concede that “Yes, it can be seen as art, even if I choose to see it otherwise.” How’s that for a round-about way of looking at art!

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  1. “It’s art, right? Like, the real thing. Art. Isn’t it?”
    “It’s art when it sells.”
    “But – now.?”
    “Your wailing baby, your gleaming aspiration, your worst nightmare, your giddy exploration of hope, your last crap. Happy now?

    (from “Shut It” – a short story I wrote 20 years ago)

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  2. Oh, wow… didn’t mean to post that yet, it wasn’t finished. I shouldn’t be here before coffee!!! Anyway, I ♥️♥️♥️♥️♥️ this post! I know next to nothing about “art” – the official, school kind, where people learn art history, do critiques, sketch life drawings, etc. Still trying to teach myself. The last time I worried about what “art” is I stopped everything art-ish for nearly a year. Too intimidated, too afraid, too gutted by my own anxiety over it. Now I just enjoy exploring & trying & learning. Thank you soooooo much for sharing this! I apologize for the mess these comments are! 🥰

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    1. 🙂 No problems. Mornings can be messy, and that’s good. In fact, I have a post scheduled for early May that’s all about making messes with my art journal. Over the last five years since I started learning to draw, I’ve been through lots of mixed feelings about what art is, what makes something art, can everything be art, and now, should anything and everything be art? It’s a fascinating topic to explore, and there are no right or wrong answers.

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      1. Thank you for your kindness. I’m ancient, came to all of this organized art stuff about 13 yrs ago. I tried so hard to make sense of “art” and define my “style” that a year ago I nearly trashed everything bec the only thing that made any sense to me at all was to explore feelings (faces) and play with colors (faces, abstracts). Maybe that’s my art? Haaaa! Dunno. …… I’m so grateful for blogs like yours – always inspiring!! 🥰👋

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      2. Thanks! I hope you find a lot of inspiration here. I’m still so new to art compared to most of my readers, so I learn new things every day. There are so many pathways I’ve yet to explore!

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  3. I’ve wondered about the definition of “art” for a while. Merriam Webster defines it as “the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects.” I’ve come up with the simpler definition of “purposeful self-expression,” but I don’t know if that quite fits.

    I think this is a slippery topic because every person can have their unique concept of what can be labeled as “art.” Maybe some people don’t think *any* abstract painting is art — then forget about poop in a can or a banana duct-taped to a wall (people paid THOSE prices for those objects????).

    I have a pretty broad tolerance of what I would label as art. But if I saw the can or banana in an art show, I’d shake my head and keep walking. I did that in a Baltimore museum when one work was a shelf of oranges in different stages of turning rotten.

    When I’m drawing, I try to have the mindset that Robin King described in her comment. I’ll forget if the work is “art” or not. I try to play and experiment and see what comes up. If the product clicks with me on some level, then it’s done and I can share it with others — who will have their own opinions.

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    1. I think you’ve nailed it with that last comment — others will have their own opinions. As artists, that’s one thing we can’t control. No matter how we feel about a piece we’ve created, others are going to have their own thoughts and feelings about it. I know people sometimes love paintings I post that I see as “failures”. Other times something I really like seems to stir little praise from others — especially in art shows LOL. Still, I think it’s good to have these discussions and share our thoughts about art. It’s fascinating to find so many different opinions, all of which are quite valid. I’m so glad you took time today to share a few of your thoughts. Thank you!

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      1. You’re welcome… an insightful comment I’ve heard is that after you create something (art/book), there’s your version — and a separate version for every single viewer/reader who experiences it.

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      2. Wow! Now, that’s a profound statement. And very, very true. I think we can even add to that that our own view of a work is time-sensitive, too. What we read/see/experience in our youth can be interpreted much differently with age. Interesting things to think about! Thanks.

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      1. Maybe. I think that yes, the artist should feel something. Because no matter the form, when an artist puts emotion into what they are creating, it brings the creation more to life. But, that said, there may be a piece, be it a painting, drawing, song, dance, poem, that the artist creates, where they are not sure of the emotion within, but someone may come along, and that piece touch them deeply- in that, bringing that piece to life. That in a sense, making art a two sided coin. Each side important to making the coin complete. That doesn’t mean an artist should just create anything and toss it out there. They should still seek perfection, seek art in its purest form which is emotion, but also understand that what they think is bad, may not be in another person’s eye. I have looked at some pieces and wondered why, while someone else has looked at the same piece and found incredible beauty. I have created work that I wasn’t one hundred percent pleased and had others like how it turned out. All that rambling to answer when it is not art? When it is dead of emotion to anyone.

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      2. Dead of emotion to anyone… that’s a good way to explain it, I think. I’m discovering that for me, the emotional aspect of art comes after the process of creation. If I try to “add emotions in”, I go blank or freeze up because I’m so unsure of how to do it. But if I forget about emotion and play with colors and shapes, the emotion slips in of its own, and then it’s exciting for me to see it and feel it. With today’s “art”, I can see things in the colors, yet I find it almost impossible to say “this is art”. It’s splatters of paint. Yes, splatters of paint can be beautiful, but there was nothing too intentional about this abstract. Yes, I chose the color palette. Yes, I tried to “splatter” the paint in an interesting way. But I still have to shrug and say “This shouldn’t be considered art.” I like the colors. I like the design. But I can’t say that I really liked the “process” — such that it was.

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  4. I don’t know. It depends a lot, how famous one is. The other day I saw a photo of ocean water surface going for 8,000. Taken with a mid format camera and accompanied with a mention to global warming. Is that art? Not sure but it was produced by a world famous artist.

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    1. Yep. That’s another aspect to the question. I’m going to guess that if I posted a comparable photo with my name on it, it wouldn’t be worth 8 cents. That’s one of the things that’s “wrong” with the art world, IMHO, but it’s part of human nature. Artists and their work become trendy and fashionable, and collectors pay the price not for the work itself but simply for the name and for what it represents as “status”. I especially get upset when artists seem to intentionally thumb their noses at “real art” — poop in a can being a good example — only to find people clamoring to buy it! I don’t get it. I just don’t get it.

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      1. When my son was in middle school we were at the local farmers market when he saw a tapestry depicting a young native American ridding a horse in the plains. For some reason he connected with that and had to have it. He went home and got his saved allowance, came back and bought it. At the personal level, art is something that touches your heart. At the universal level, art that will survive the test of time and space, that will still touch people’s hearts in 100 years anywhere in the word, that’s another story.

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      2. It’s interesting how certain art works touch us. I have that “connection” to “The Child’s Bath” by Mary Cassatt. That single painting probably touches me more deeply than any other.

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  5. I’d say it’s in the eyes of the beholder. Pollock and Rothko is top notch art to me. Might not be to another person. Antonio Soarez fashion illustrations are art to me. Art is created by the viewer. The artist makes an object, might want it to be art but the eyes and mind of the beholder makes it art. An objet d’arte exists as such only insofar as it is regarded as such by a remote existence. Given being in itself and hopefully incorporating qualities enabling transcendence across nothingness incorporating a glimpse of the spirit aded to it by intention, by the artist’s touch. It stops being art when it is not beheld by ‘the other’. It is the viewing of this other that allows it to exist as art. But now time for a very late luncheon. Cheerio 👋🏼

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    1. Enjoy your lunch, and thank you for the comments. I agree that “art” can’t really be “art” unless someone views it as art. With today’s abstract, I wanted it to be art, but I couldn’t feel it being art as I created it. To me, Pollock is definitely art, Rothko I can’t appreciate quite so much. Everyone has different tastes. So maybe some readers will look at my abstract today and call it art. I just can’t. For me, this represented the point where just being creative and creating art went separate ways.

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    1. Good thought. So does anything count as “abstract art” if we see it that way? Should “paint splatters” be called “art”? I’m having a hard time thinking of today’s abstract as being art. Yes, I hoped to create something interesting with my paint splatters, but… nope. I just can’t call it “art” with out wincing a bit.

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  6. Maybe there’s a game aspect to it all. Duchamp spent most of his career as an “artist” playing chess and other games. As he wisely noted, “There is no solution because there is no problem.” A wonderful game it is, too.

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  7. l don’t think there’s an answer. Each individual decides on their own what art is or isn’t. If an artist (whether self-proclaimed or well known & famous) creates it, I consider it art. I love Pollock’s abstract splatter paintings & I think the Banana on the Wall was genius. It said a lot in its base simplicity & the man who ate it made the piece even better. Even if I don’t understand a piece or it doesn’t make me feel anything, it may speak to someone else. That’s art to me & what I feel is the beauty of it.

    I also think your painting here is good. It reminds me of the inevitable crash that comes after an energetic day.

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    1. Thanks for the kind words… and the interesting interpretation of my “abstract art”. I’m struggling to call it art, but definitely I love, love, love Pollock’s paint splatters. I sense meaning and purpose behind his abstracts. With mine? Just a new technique to try, and one that left me wondering how far we can go before we cross that line between “this is art” and “this can’t be art”. But maybe such a line doesn’t really exist. Who’s to say? Anything can be art. I’ve discovered that for myself. But some things… ? Sorry, I can’t see the same significance and genius in the banana that you do, but that’s what makes this art world so interesting!

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  8. We had a chapter on Pablo Picasso in English, once ma’am had left, we began a discussion near the blackboard. The centre of discussion was – what is abstract art? And then, my classmate took a blue chalk, drew a box, and scribbled, saying that’s abstract art! I was speechless. I didn’t know what to consider that, an insult or… something else. Because I don’t know the answer. Does abstract art really have a limit? Can it go on to such an extent where it skillfully merges with scribbling? Little kids can scribble, do we call them as artists?

    I don’t know, but once, I gave abstract art a try. It was fluid art. I kept adding paint and tilting the canvas and using the brush a little till I felt good, and added more and wreaked it, and added more and felt satisfied again and so it continued. Maybe abstract art can go to the extent till which an artist feels satisfied?

    By personal experience, I would say, every beholder has a different view towards the artwork. There are very varied perceptions. One may like the work, one may not. Is there a way to satisfy everyone, I’m not really sure of it. I believe that this doesn’t apply to abstract art alone, it could be true for other things as well…

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    1. I think what you’re saying can apply to all forms of art. Even the most skillfully-painted canvases are not universally loved and appreciated. There is no single style we call “art”, and everyone has their own likes and dislikes. For me, much of this discussion centers around the artist’s intention, I think. It’s true that when I created the abstract piece in today’s post, I wanted to create something interesting, something that someone could call art. And maybe someone will see it as art. Personally, though, I don’t think there’s much about it that’s worthy of respect or consideration. Aha! Maybe that’s the key. The idea of “respect”. To me, pouring paint onto a canvas and watching it splatter is not a way of “respecting” the process of art. Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to see the result as abstract art. You’ve raised some good points. What is the difference — seriously — between scribbles made by a child and scribbles made by “an artist”? Is there a significant difference? When I first tried doing abstract art, it was impossible! I had no idea how to approach it. I’m learning a few good techniques to use, and I’m liking some of what I’m doing. For me, though, paint splatters just crossed some invisible line in my head. I don’t want to call today’s abstract “a work of art”. It might be art to others, but to me, it’s not.

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  9. I find it to be art: it has cohesion and integrity as a whole through which the viewer can find meaning. I don’t “see things in it” (such as faces, etc.), but respond to the whole, contemplating the form and the relationship I find between form, aesthetics, and meaning.

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    1. I’m glad you can see it as “art”, that was, of course, my intent in creating it. For me, though, the experience of splattering paint just did not “feel” like art at all. To me, it’s paint splatters. 🙂

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  10. This reminds me of a commercial I saw with an artist putting his heart and soul into a painting, then in the end listed the painting for a million dollars. When you see the painting in the end, he had only used white paint and it looked like a blank canvas. It ended with a caption “art is subjective.”

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    1. 😦 Yes, art is subjective, and seriously there are artists who seem to do this sort of thing. Are they serious? Are they “putting one over” on the art world? Sometimes it seems that way. IMHO it’s artists like that who give “art” a bad name. Maybe, to them, they really are “pushing boundaries” and really are saying something, but if it’s meaningless to most of us… well, here we go again. Is it really art? Thanks for sharing. I haven’t seen the commercial.

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  11. I feel like it’s art if the creator of the work intends it to be. It’s about their intention. So if a person hangs up an empty canvas in a gallery accidentally – it’s not art. But if they hang it up intentionally – it’s art. But I will say, I have felt puzzled and honestly annoyed feelings when I have encountered some forms of abstract art haha. Kind of interesting to reflect why that is.

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    1. Abstract art is definitely interesting in many different ways. My intention with this piece was to try a new “technique” — and I hoped I might come away with something I could call art. But in doing the technique, there was just no way I felt anything “artistic” in the process. So, this was merely a learning experience, and I can’t call it “art”.

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  12. When I saw your paint splatters here I thought it was beautiful! I call it art. You did it deliberately even if you didn’t know exactly how it would look finished. Art can be easy or difficult depending on the feelings of the artist on that day. Art can be spattering paint but I draw the line at the banana taped to a wall or poop in a can. That’s anti art. Blue canvas? I don’t know, sounds boring, but some people are so wound up they need boring art.
    Very interesting discussion you have going here!

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    1. Thanks! Yes, it occurred to me just now as I was responding to comments that abstract art is interesting in many different ways! It can certainly spark a lot of good discussion. I’m glad you liked today’s “work of art”. It has things about it that I like. I do like the colors. I like that I can see a lot of things in it. I like the “flying” feeling it gives me. But still, I don’t feel right calling it “art” because I didn’t really feel “artsy” with the process. I’ll agree that sometimes paint splatters are art — I love Pollock — but for me, pouring paint onto a canvas… nope. Honestly, it makes me feel like a fraud. I’d be embarrassed to call this “real art”.

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      1. In the end it’s your call with what you make, is it art or not. A lot of people don’t see spatters as art but a lot of people do. If you are reminded of that flying feeling it could be art. I’m not a fan of Pollock but I like your spatter here. Don’t say this isn’t art, enter it in a show. I bet you win or sell it. Go in with confidence and see what happens. Don’t let it go cheap. It has some of those compositional elements you’re working on. movement, depth, variety, contrast, I could go on.

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      2. Thanks for all the kind words, especially those about design principles. Yes, that’s one reason why I’m choosing to play with abstract art now. It’s a really good way for me to put those design principles into actual practice. I do try to think of those elements even when I’m splattering paint. I’m glad you can see that in this painting.

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  13. 1999. A friend and I met at The Tate for a wander and a chat. T. Emin’s My Bed happened to be being exhibited. We stood around her piece and tried to figure out if this was really art. It was a difficult decision and we were erring on ‘No, it’s a messy bed’, when suddenly two guys ran through the crowd and started jumping up and down on it! After a few seconds 2 security guards appeared and chased the bed-jumpers away. I remember thinking that it was part (somehow) of the installation; enough so that we both agreed wholeheartedly that this really was art. It wasn’t until that evening when I saw the news that I realised it was a prank.

    Decided My Bed wasn’t art.

    I’ve spent the lockdowns pushing paint around into abstracts. Acrylic. I love the marking and the layering, but mostly I love the disengagement/ switching off and the hours that melt away. It started to dawn on me recently though that even my abstracts (to me) seem to reveal constant themes that I work on deliberately in my writing. Is this normal? (hahaha)

    Good post, Judith.

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    1. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and your experience at the Tate. I’m inclined to agree that “My Bed” isn’t art, or if it is art, it’s not the sort of art I care for. It’s interesting, of course. I think the artist has something to say, but for me… nope, still not art, and especially not art worthy of being exhibited at a major gallery. That said, I’m having fun learning to play with different techniques, and I have come up with a few abstract paintings I like. There’s even a lot I like in today’s painting, but for me, it’s just not “art”. It’s paint splatters. It’s better than poop in a can. I consider it more art-worthy than a banana taped to a wall or an unmade bed, but what do I know? 🙂

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  14. I like the thought of Peter Pan leading me. It’s a good way to describe my current process! I think if you have something to say or you put your feelings, emotion, skill and knowledge into a piece it’s art. It’s your art because you say it is. Art isn’t just what artists see, it’s what the viewer sees, feels etc. A reflection of time, place, culture, personality etc. I reckon even if you just throw your paint about and enjoy it, others feel that enjoyment to some extent. One person might call it art but another may not. The eye of the beholder sort of thing. 🙂

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  15. As a writer, not an artist, I feel somewhat out of my depth here, but I will make this comment.
    In literature there is an inner clique, who decide who gets the kudos and the prizes, which tend to stay within their own circle.
    I think that with art too, when we get to the ‘unmade bed’ situation, there is a clique saying ‘If you don’t understand it, it’s because you’re not as smart/insightful/perceptive/woke as us’.

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    1. I think you’re absolutely correct in that assessment. To me, art “critics” are the bane of the art world. They don’t really know what art is because no one can define it, so they create their own “trendy” standards by which they judge and give the impression that if we (the rest of us) don’t see art in their way, it’s because we’re not refined enough, not aware enough, or as you say, not “woke” enough.

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  16. Yes, that sort of thing is annoying! Someone (non-“professional”) in a group I’m in had a tertiary educated artist write to her telling her to stop doing what she does and being successful at it because she wasn’t a real artist, not qualified etc and she was taking their business!!! It was incredible that someone would actually do this. It was definitely real too, first hand, not just hearsay. I couldn’t believe it.

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    1. I hear and read so many “horror stories” like this. And as I study art history I learn about so many “critics” would said such horrible things about brilliant artists. Maybe it makes them — the critics — feel better to put others down. I really for sorry for people who think their job in life is to make other people feel bad. 😦

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  17. What a wonderful thread of comments and responses! I came here following your ‘like’ to my blog. Since it’s name “But is it Art?”, I now have a suspicion of how you found it. As someone who’s always wanted to do ‘art’, from a representational standpoint, with limited talent and success, I admire those who can whip out a likeness of what they see in any media. Abstract creations don’t always speak to me, but I can understand their appeal. As to what determines whether its ‘art’, I’ll leave that to others. If you enjoy the process, and are happy with your result, keep going.

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    1. Thanks so much for visiting. Abstract art is interesting and it definitely stirs up a lot of thoughts and discussion. I’m still new to art, and I’m only now beginning to really develop different techniques for non-representational art. Studying design principles has helped me a lot, I think. Art can be many different things, so we’ll never come up with an answer to the “Is it art?” question. That’s the fun of it, really!

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      1. Yes, there is the artists point of view, and the artist’s productivity. Productivity can change methods or inspirations without changing the artist’s identity as an artistic person.

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      2. I know that’s true. For myself, I’m still trying to fully grasp the complete “who am I” aspect of an artistic style. I’m still trying so many new things and learning so many different methods, I’m never sure if the “real me” still comes through, mostly because I’m not completely sure yet who the “real me” is as an artist. Does that make any sense?

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      3. All your art will reflect the real you. Even when artists copy, there is a craving to learn something, to connect, and memories are made. Whether the finished work stands up to criticism or not, the act of art-making will make some elements of it part of you, and you cannot help expressing whichever parts impressed you with whatever style you choose.

        Liked by 2 people

      4. I know that’s true, even if I can’t fully see it yet in my own art. I can see it in what other artists do, and I love how their “personal touch” always comes through.

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  18. To offer a comparison, if I can … in composing a piece a writer must consider its effect upon the reader: this implies adding pace, pattern, and immediacy that will draw the reader’s attention. Otherwise the piece is merely an account. So in creating a tableau, tp my mind, the artist has a similar task. It’s value as art must stand or fall by its ability to gain the attention of the viewer, through a reaction of whatever kind. If an artist can achieve such a work by random input without emotion then it must be a special gift, but luckily he/she has on their side a devout group of cognoscenti who are prepared to find a ‘message’ in almost anything.
    It becomes a minefield, this world, when selectivity and the judgement of what must influence us all becomes a career for a few, largely talent-less individuals. ‘Art Appreciation’! What travesties lie scattered when we have to be educated to like something!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Interesting thoughts. I agree with you, and as you’ve said, sometimes an artist does achieve the desired result — capturing a viewer’s eye and emotion — purely by random means. When it happens, it happens. Yet definitely there are those “art critics” who add meaning that was never there in the artist’s mind, and I think this is one thing that has always bugged me a bit, not only in art but in literature, poetry, and other art forms, where a “know-it-all” critic tells us unequivocally what an artist’s intention (or writer, or choreography, or whoever) was and points out all this complex symbolism that may or may not really exist in the work itself. If a critic sees it, that’s his or her interpretation, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t give them license to declare their interpretation as the end-all and be-all of absolute truth. They can become so condescending! We’re each entitled to our own interpretation of art IMHO.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. But … Jackson Pollack. Oh, BELIEVE ME, I get the dilemma. But ultimately, I think it’s art when it comes from within you and YOU think it’s art. Every viewer will have his own opinion. But an artist’s job is to create, right; not think for others? These are just my thoughts, the thoughts of a SUPER-NOVICE.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. You’re definitely right about creating not thinking for others. With this particular piece, I stop short of calling it art, even though I used a “creative process” and even gave thought to the colors and patterns. As an artist, though, I just didn’t feel like I was making art. A lot of people like the result. Great. All the same, it’s just not art to me. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  20. Hello Judith!

    “everything can be art, not everything really is, nor should it be.” – I’m with you on that!

    The main issue I have with modern art is not with the art itself. It’s the fact that artists have to write long spiels to “help” me figure out underlying messages. That’s when art stops being art to me. (And explains why poetry is still so disliked as an art form.)

    The main goals of art are to trigger emotions and create conversations. The rest is just superfluous and useless.

    I enjoyed looking at your piece. I see a river flowing freely into a dream-like landscape.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree, even more so when the “interpretation” is written by an art critic who wants to tell us what we’re “supposed” to see in a painting. If the painting “moves” me, I’ll have my own narrative for it. I don’t want or need to be “spoon-fed” by someone who thinks they know it all. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  21. “When an Artist stop Shetching
    and start Stretching his/her imagination
    into a more profound innovation
    Art stop being Art
    ’cause the Artist has turned into a Poet
    as an Artist creates abstractions
    but with poems a Poet breathes life into them.”
    _-Van Prince

    Liked by 1 person

  22. Abstract art is not art to me. It’s beautiful in it’s own way and very creative but it’s not art. Just because it’s on a canvas and a person tries to find a name to represent something after it’s done doesn’t make it art. It’s a painting because a person uses paint, but art to me represents something that we can actually understand and identify.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I tend to agree for the most part, although I’ve seen some abstracts that I consider “art” — but most of it isn’t “real art” in the way a representative work is. Even with “impressionist” art, there’s something there we can see and identify. But how “representational” must a piece be before we call it “art”? There are so many fine lines to draw, and so many definitions we can apply to the concept of “art”. What I do know is that abstract art very rarely feels like “art” when I’m trying to create it. The only “art” I see in it relates to design concepts and the use of color. So, to me, abstract art can have a lot of the qualities and elements of “art” — but it’s still different. Maybe it should be be described as “abstract creation” rather than “abstract art”.

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  23. I understand your feelings. When I was in art school, my major was sculpture. At the time, the trend was to categorize a series of photographs as sculpture. This trend continued, while I created bronze, latex skins, neon, cast aluminum and cast poly resin pieces and experimented with 3D textile art. Our work was displayed frequently, and one I remember (I wish I didn’t) was one student put garbage (banana skins and all) in a big plastic bag and photographed it daily for several weeks. The series was up on the wall as sculpture. Interesting concept, and a little ironic. I don’t have an answer to that question. I make art, and I write. My writing is not my art, but it is an art. That is the extent of what I know!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, my… creative garbage… yuck LOL. As you said, it’s an interesting concept, and I have to say that there occasionally is a bit of garbage in the art world. 😦

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  24. I feel that way every time I create something. I think it’s just something us artist just have to deal with. We don’t believe in ourselves enough. I love how your painting came out. I have still yet to create an abstract pour but lately dabble in using spatulas and paint knives. I really like this article hit home for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad this post “spoke” to you, and I’m glad you like the painting. Sounds like we’re both trying different things! I’m wanting to do more with spatulas and palette knives, and also with sticks and leaves — everything! I also want to start incorporating fabrics into my art. There are so many fun things to try!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. I agree that this isn’t a piece of art…yet. I see it as an abstract piece in a state potential with barely two layers of paint laid down. Like any decent piece of art, a good abstract piece needs time to develop. Good abstraction requires exploration, experimentation, lots and lots of layers of paint and a high tolerance for a feeling of getting nowhere, often until the ego drops temporarily out of exhaustion, and then the magic happens. Good abstract art is a lot, lot, lot of work. Good abstract artists make it appear simple and that’s what has given rise to the phenomenon of “crapstraction” by people with no real ability. The good thing about crapstraction, in my opinion, is that it gives people the courage to try to paint who would otherwise never even try. It’s a good starting point for people with no technical artistic skills so I want to make it clear that I am not criticizing crapstraction. All efforts are worthwhile as far as I’m concerned…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting! This is the first time I’ve heard the term “Crapstraction” — a perfect word for what we’re talking about. I agree completely that it has some benefits, that it can draw people in who would otherwise never attempt art of any sort. And I can agree that good abstract art is a lot of work. My abstractions to this point have been ways of playing with different techniques, so I don’t really feel that I’m “creating” anything — other than a lot of messes. I’m hoping that once I have tried a lot of methods for getting paint on a canvas, maybe abstraction will make more sense to me and I can truly “create” something. Now I’ll have to look at that two-layered piece of “crapstraction” (that’s really what it is to me) and see if it might want to evolve into something more. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  26. One more thought related to the above comment. With regards to abstraction a better question might be “When does it start being art”…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Excellent! Yep… you’re giving me a chance to view abstract art from a completely new point of view. I love it! Thank you, thank you, thank you!

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  27. I kind of agree with you Judith. I don’t see abstract art as artistic but I do see it as interesting/ beautiful etc. Maybe where there is an illusion of something that everyone can see, done purposely? But just splats and sploshes, not for me.
    But listening to people today (YouTube influencers) many of whom say you don’t need to be artistic to paint , everyone can paint, everyone is an artist – maybe I’m on my own with this thinking.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. There’s definitely some “art” that anyone can do, and that’s a good thing, I think. I’m talking about “fluid art” like acrylic pouring, or alcohol inks. Yes, anyone can do them and come out with fairly good results. Those with more “artistic” talent will have better results — I know this from personal experience, since I’m not truly artistic and had a real struggle with acrylic pouring. I think art forms like this are good because they do encourage people to try art, and maybe some of them will go on to learn drawing and painting. I know one purpose for “art” — in a very general sense — is to be enjoyable, and for some people splashing, splattering and dripping paint can be a lot of fun. But I just don’t see it as “creating real art” — and we can go around and around with definitions and opinions about what is or isn’t, or what should be or shouldn’t be called art. I know art can be fun, but I also see “art” as a more serious pursuit. It’s great to be frivolous and playful, and maybe we will create something people like, but I don’t want to be too willing to define “anything” as art. I wrote a post once taking the position that anything can be art, but even while I do believe that, I also have to add that not everything SHOULD be called art. Oh, but what an interesting topic for discussion art can be!

      Liked by 1 person

  28. As may, or may not, have been stated by someone else, it sounds safe to say that you are indeed creating some form of art, some form of process painting. Yeah, it’s marks on the canvas, resulting from your efforts and it’s pretty darn legitimate to call it art. I suppose you can get into matters of an artist’s intent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Intent… now, there’s an interesting word. I think I can say that, yes, I “intended” to create art, or at least I hoped that I could do that. Yet in the process of splattering and dripping paint, I didn’t feel at all like I was “creating” anything — other than a big mess. It’s been eye-opening to read comments about this particular painting (which I can’t really bring myself to call art). Some have liked it, others have had mixed feelings about it. This is what make “art” in all its varied forms so interesting. No one will ever agree on anything! Thank you for sharing your thoughts about it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sure, if the artist can’t or won’t back up their work, then who will? You could say that, once the work is out in the world, others can take it upon themselves to call that work “art.” That has certainly happened. So, the rabbit hole can go very, very deep. All very interesting.

        Liked by 1 person

  29. I think it comes down to two points, Judith: skill and intentionality.

    The skill is derived from the assiduous development of talent in accurately describing objective reality: that is, in accurate representation. You’ve got to be able to paint a tree which a quorum of other people agree is a tree. That’s what I mean by ‘objective reality’: our individual modes of seeing naturally agree with yours as the artist, and a preponderant majority agree that what you’re depicting is a fair representation of something that exists outside yourself that we can all see and compare it to.

    The intentionality follows from the developed skill in representation. There comes a point (as it did with Picasso) where the skill at representing objective reality is no longer a creative exercise. At that point the artist deliberately intends to represent reality in an abstract, subjective fashion—the reality that exists behind reality.

    But here’s the point: the quorum of independent observers still exists and must be able to at least descry, if not actually recognize, something objective in the subjective intention. The skill at objectively depicting this ‘surreality’ still exists. If our individual modes of seeing do not naturally agree with you, as the artist, that what you’ve painted abstractly is ‘a tree’, then the abstract rendition fails as art.

    And I think this is the impasse into which modern (and subsequently postmodern) art has fallen: skill at accurate representation of objective, observable reality has been gradually depreciated and the artist’s ‘intention’ (what you call ‘expression’) has been overvalued in the art schools. But all genuine art is a communication between minds: we recognize (or at least descry), even in the work of great abstractionists from Picasso to Rothko, some objective essence we agree upon, some common element that moves us all in a similar way. That’s what happens when abstract art works.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’ve provided a good analysis of that essential “something” that makes abstract art work — when it does. It’s a subject which fascinates me in ways I can’t explain. I appreciate works by Jackson Pollock (my favorite abstractionist) but can’t see anything truly “artistic” in Mark Rothko’s color blocks. I think artists who paint all blue canvases (Yves Klein for instance) or similar works are disrespecting the art world, almost mocking what art is. That’s probably a harsh assessment, but then again, I am entitled to my opinion, right? A lot of my questions regarding abstract art center around “techniques”. Take the “technique” I was learning — pouring paint from a cup onto a canvas on the floor. Now, I imagine Pollock could have done it in an artistic way. In the hands of a highly-skilled artist, I think the “pour it out onto the canvas” method could produce beautiful works of abstract art. At the same time, though, that doesn’t mean that anyone can take a cup of paint and pour it out and come away with something that can be called “art”. In creating the painting I posted (which I do not consider art) I had no real intention beyond trying out a different means of putting paint on a canvas. I had nothing I was hoping to express through the work. Yet people have responded favorably to the painting. Some probably like the colors I chose. I can use my imagination and “see” things in the splatters of paint, although nothing was intentional. I guess others can look at it and see things there, as well. That said, though, it’s still not “art”. I was not trying to communicate through the piece, yet those splatters of paint still spoke to some viewers. I refuse to call it art. Others see it differently. So, again, there’s never any real consensus. I need intention, expression, and a sense that some skill is involved in what I’m doing before I can call it art.

      Liked by 1 person

  30. I believe you’ve done a form of acrylic pour painting, without mixing in any fluid control. It can be done pretty cheaply which is great because it’s so fun it’s addicting. In my opinion it’s definitely art. It’s fascinating and magic to me. Here’s a sampling on Youtube: https://youtu.be/9eEZmcjY1Uo
    Thanks for the follow as well! I appreciate it.

    Liked by 2 people

  31. Well, art, as it is generally said, is in the eye of the beholder. That said, not all art is equal. Anyone can create art. A child thinks of their mudpies are worthy of attention. My stepdaughter would go around the neighborhood selling them when she was very young. I think a couple people may have taken one, because they knew her and she was so cute. That destroys my old perception that art isn’t art if you can’t sell it. I find lots of art in trash cans and dumpsters. Some art has a very limited audience, starting from the artist themself. If they don’t want it, why would anyone else? But, indeed that is often the case, that artists “move on” and no longer like their older pieces. Sometimes other people do. If the purpose of making “art” is to sell it, and no one likes it or buys it, is it art? I think at that point, it’s craft, perhaps, as a well-painted house or car is. It takes practice to do anything well. A shoddily painted house is disappointing to the person who commissioned the work, and they aren’t going to think of it as art, but rather as bad workmanship. When people buy art, they buy it for different reasons. Some people buy art as an investment. Anything that sells, and increases in value is what they buy. Art is just one category of things they can buy to later profit on. They don’t buy art – they buy investments. Others buy art because of the hard work and skill demonstrated by the artist. It doesn’t have to be portraits or landscapes, but people buy art that appeals to their sense of aesthetics. If they’ve been conditioned to think of art as anything in an art gallery, or framed, or sculpted, etc, then that’s what they consider art. All of that, however, doesn’t really answer the question. Sometimes art becomes famous and expensive because of marketing, just like other products. If art is simply a product, then perhaps it is more product than art. People like to think of art as something extraordinary. A painter’s dropcloth has drops and splatters and smears, but all of it is unintentional. So is art only that is intentional? If so, then nature gets the short shrift when as art. It’s hard to define art in absolute terms. But art fads come and go – we hear that something is art, but often that is marketing. A work of art should appeal to some sense of beauty, I would think. Define beauty.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, how fascinating it is to go around and around with philosophical questions of art and beauty! And here you’ve added so many good points for consideration. Art as “product” — definitely part of our modern experience. Art as “fad” — ever-changing and never anything upon which a consensus can be founded. And then there’s definitely the question of intention, questions regarding the artist’s assessment of the work, and then we’re right back to “the eye of the beholder” and another of my favorites, in that “there’s no accounting for taste.” Yet even while we ponder all the various possibilities of art (or non-art) I think one simple truth remains: we wouldn’t want it any other way, would we? As I think about this now, I’m glad there is no single standard by which art can be judged and/or deemed worthy. I’m glad that people appreciate art in different ways. I’m glad we can find art everywhere if we look. Lately I’ve been drawn to the concept of “disposable art” — a pattern of leaves that will quickly blow away, as an example. Art can be fleeting. Art cn be eternal. Art can be so many things! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on the topic. For me, I’m very much in agreement that a work of art should appeal to some sense of beauty, but then, here we go again. What is beauty? It, too, is in the eye of the beholder, and very much in the mind of the beholder, too, I would think. It’s such an interesting discussion topic.

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  32. I suppose that what is art depends on your point of view. In the past, for a while, art became something superior and we were told what was art and what was not. But now, it seems, art can be pretty much anything. So I fall beck on my own perceptions. If some work moves me I am happy to see it as art. I tend to see art as emotional, spiritual and meaningful. When I have worked on a piece I have to be happy with it; that I have done my best while accepting that it will not, cannot be, perfect. Whether it counts as art, or art worth looking at, is in the perceptions of other people.

    best wishes, John Dickinson

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree somewhat. I do think the artist’s state of mind counts for something. I just can’t see my paint splatters here being considered art. 🙂

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      1. If I had produced something similar then I also would not consider it art but we live in a world where it could be seen as such so I feel we have to be true to ourselves. The art authorities, such as they are, seem to be classifying any thing as art providing it is accompanied by an intellectual justification thus making beauty, skill and emotional meaning redundant. I feel that I have succeeded in my work if I produce something that moves someone. So feedback is very important to me while the art establishment is not. John Dickinson

        Liked by 1 person

  33. Hi, Judith! Love this piece. So interesting. It’s so interesting to think how the making process feels like it determines the outcome. I’m not sure it always does! Lots to think about, though. Also wanted to let you know that I’ve moved away from WordPress, so, if you’d still like to follow my blog (and thanks for doing so!) you’ll need to head here: https://www.sarahtinsley.com/

    Liked by 2 people

  34. I love this piece. My parents ask me all the time, “is this art or just randomness?”
    you made some great points. I think it depends who looks at it and how it made them feel

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks. Yes, I guess we have to consider a viewer’s thoughts and feelings, and overall I don’t think there will ever be any consensus about what is or isn’t art. That’s what makes it interesting!

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  35. I actually like this painting. And I called it a painting on purpose. I’m a newbie artist. And I call myself that with full intention because I want to make art and I’m making it. You have every right to not consider your art art, but to me that’s just a lot of words. You made it. You wanted to make it. You chose the color palette. You splattered, dripped the colors onto the underpainting. You took time to do it. You acted purposefully in that you let yourself be loose enough to just let it happen. In the end, you created a painting that I actually like. I’m truly not trying to be harsh, but honestly, I think you’ve attempted to suck all the joy out of your creation. Why can’t it just be what it is? Why can’t you just create it and let it be what it is to whomever sees it, including yourself? Calling it art will not change that painting, which I like. Calling it not art will not change that painting, which I still like. It IS. You created it. Only you and it and the people who DO appreciate it matter. Nothing is liked by everyone. NOTHING. I think you should be kinder to yourself and your creative efforts. JMHO

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for the comments. I am glad you like the painting. The splatter technique is interesting. This might not have felt like art to me, but it was definitely a creative experience. I will play around with it more. Abstract art is a bit of a puzzle for me.

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  36. I think that, if I consider my work art, then its art. But, in order for it to be considered real art, it must be accepted by others.
    I have gone to many art galleries, and can say that the fame of the artist, and who backs them also determines what is art.
    A famous artist could spill paint on card board by accident, and sell it. But I could not.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. And if you don’t consider it art… but others do, is it art then? That seems to be the question regarding my paint splatters here. I don’t think it’s art, but a lot of people like it. So, does my opinion as the artist count? It’s an interesting topic, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

  37. If you find beauty in it, it’s art to you. Doesn’t have to be art, or artistic, to everyone. If one single person finds their own description of beauty in the piece, then it’s art to them. It only needs to be art to one person to be art. We do not need any validation from anyone to tell us what we think art is. And again, if one person can see the art on it, isn’t it art??? Just my personal feelings. Art can be anything, anywhere, to anyone….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, art can be anything, I’ve learned, although I don’t necessarily think everything should be art! But, as you say, it only needs to be art to one person. I think that’s true. I’m just glad that we can each “interpret” art as we choose, that we can like or dislike any work of art, and no one can really tell us that we’re right or wrong.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Exactly! That’s what makes art the ultimate separation between people while uniting them at the same time. Overall, art brings so many people together… yet we can be amazingly divided and diverse at the same time. It’s such a beautiful concept!

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