Monday, October 10, 2016

Art: The way I understand it (Part 1)

I am currently teaching myself how to draw and paint. The process is rather slow because of my lack of knowledge about the topic.  But I don't mind because there are other lessons I learn along the way every time I pick up my pencil and paint brush.

So far, I am beginning to understand that...

 1.  Art is recreating a personal experience. In painting or drawing, it is recreating what we see or imagine;  in gardening it is the careful arrangement of plants that we know reflects beauty that we had experienced at some point;  in cooking there is art involved.   When we tell someone about a movie we saw - it is art.  When you write about a thought that crossed your mind - that is also art. When you exaggerate to mimic a presidential candidate you don't like, that is an exercise of art!  We recreate our experience for others to get a glimmer of the original experience.  

Art is a personal expression.  And this expression varies in style depending on the depth or focus of experience.  That is why art is interesting because they are always different with every artist.  As Ralph Ammer puts it, "learning to draw means to learn a new language - your language."  Don't worry if your artwork does not look perfect.  It is based on your own experience and imagination - and only you know what's in your head.  My daughter Miriam often tells me that my drawing does not have to look exactly what I am copying - as long as it gives the impression of what I intend to portray.  It is alright to paraphrase.

2.  Art is meant to be shared.  When we engage in art we bring to light what we have witnessed - either physically (as in fruits on a table), mentally (as an imagined story), subconsciously (as in a dream).  Art is meant to be shared and not the other way around.  When art is used to get something back, then it begins to become business.   This is when art begins to loose its intended value.  We share art so others can experience it also.  In some ways art is an aid to living in a community of people.  Not everyone can have a firsthand experience of something and so we bridge the gap through retelling and recreating.

3.  Art is a choice.  Either we do art or not at all. Sometimes we just decide to remain as consumer of  someone's artwork.  All the years that I was raising my kids, there were colored pencils everywhere in the house.  I hung my kids artwork on the walls or on the fridge but I never pick up a pencil to draw anything.  But I chose other forms of recreating back then.

In this age of the internet and social media, it is easy to remain a consumers.  We see something, we like it, and when feeling adventurous - click and share.  And there you have it.  We're done.   It is a noble thing to appreciate other's artwork but solidifying our own experiences by recreating them help us understand things around us better.  Take advantage of the world wide web platforms to make a statement.  We can produce something to share to the world.  Never mind that it is not grand.  Never mind that others seem better than you.  You have your own style and your own experience to recreate or retell to share.

When I posted one of my earlier sketches on Facebook, one of my friends asked me if I am not worried about possible comments or feedback about my artwork.  And I said, no.  Because I do not have anything to hide or to defend.  I didn't have any training at all and I do not claim to be a master.  Any feedback at that point is a lesson I need to learn.  :)

With these thoughts in mind, it seems to me that living is art in itself.  And I will talk more about it in my next post :)

Is living an art form in itself?

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