In my last post I talked about arting. A person left a comment asking me about arting. This inspired me to talk about arting. Arting is being creative. Any type of creative activity is arting. There were lots of reasons for this tag I use and I am going to share with you my thought process. I hope you will give me a few minutes to share my thoughts on arting.
When I was a child I went to a school where we had an art teacher. All children had art activities twice a week from first grade through fifth grade. This is where my art instruction began and ended until adulthood. I consider myself lucky because thousands of people will never even get that much art opportunities in public school. I don’t remember much about those days, but I wasn’t left with the idea I was untapped potential. As a result I never felt I had creative ability or skill.
When I left home after high school, I moved to the city. I lived in a brownstone near the Minneapolis Institute of Art (MIA). Thursday nights were free nights. Perfect for a young person who was living on the economic edge in my first apartment working my first post college job. I was there every Thursday and got to know not only the permanent collections but also got the opportunity to see so many visiting collections. I was exposed to the fine arts. I got to see the Old Masters, Picasso, painters from the Hudson River School, traveling exhibits from other museums, sculptures, textiles, and so much more. It was here I began my art education. The exhibits were inspiring even if I could not imagine myself ever creating anything near such a talent level. As I got older, I found I could afford community education classes. I started to dabble in the arts because of the evenings I had spent at MIA.
When I took a class, the teachers considered to be the artists, and we were the students. The more classes I took I discovered that art was broken down into fine art and craft by most folks. People had personal criteria of what made art and who were the artists. This threw me for a loop. Who decides? What makes them the decider? I had seen traveling exhibits of historic art that included quilts at MIA, suddenly quilting was classified as craft no matter how intricate the work. Yet there were paintings that were great art that I never understood. Who decided Andy Warhol was a great artist? I found it fascinating and some pieces very interesting to look at, but never met my criteria for great art. Yet it was.
The rebel in me looked up the definition of art. I pull the most recent definition from the online dictionary for this post and it hasn’t changed much. Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power. By this definition there is lots of art out there. Most of it is not great art, but it is art in its purest form. It was at that moment that some things changed for me.
I create art. I work in watercolor, paper and fabric for the most part. Most of my art is a creative output that brings some emotions with it for me. None of it would come close to qualifying as fine art. I am not comfortable saying I am an artist. When I create I refer to it as arting. It brings me joy to create. Sometimes I am happy with the output, more often I am looking at my work seeking to improve my technique, design or other facet of my work. Yet by definition is is art and I stick to that.
I work in a studio. My studio is where I keep my creative stuff and the stuff I use to create art. It has space for my stuff to be organized in a way that works with my creative/analytical brain. I surround myself with things from friends and family that make me smile, let me know I am loved, or that someone cared enough to share something with me. It is a haven of encouragement. It is where most of my completed work is at. I never refer to my room as a craft room. Two reasons. One, somehow we as a society view the results of crafts as something lesser or possibly more disposable. Anything created there could never be more a craft. I get to decide the personal value of what I create, not some outward definition. Two, I have never heard of the corner of a garage referred to as a craft room where a man putters in wood. It almost universally is called his workshop. I think of this as a gender stereotype I refuse to perpetuate. If it is a workshop, I get to have a studio.
So now you know about the word arting. Here is my second word that there was a request for further clarification. Racetrack Art. Almost every fine art class I have taken has had the students do warm up exercises. I have done them many times and wonder other than getting my supplies all out and ready to go and starting my creative juices running, what is the purpose? I can never remember looking at them and saying….yeah my contrast of light and dark is working, that green I mixed on my pallet is perfect, no the #8 round is not the right brush today…now let’s get going and make real art. I make cards using up paper scraps not thinking much about the design or what is working and what is not. It is an exercise of creativity that I don’t think much about before and almost never afterwards. All of this is racetrack art. Art you made, but when you were done, you moved on without thinking about what was the purpose, did I learn something, did it expose a shortcoming, did I finally master that problem…. Race track art is one and done. Something you make and let go of not to really think more about it. It is one of those things that can reinforce bad habits. It on the reverse it can help develop new positive things if you are a little more conscious and purposeful of what you are doing and use the exercise as such. Lots of classes I have taken recently talk about intuitive art. Most of the times for me it is a hot mess. Because I let something go and don’t consider color, texture, contrast or anything else. I assume my brain is right. It could be, but it could be lost and not right at all. If you haven’t learned the elements of the medium then I am not sure you should be marching to your own drum yet. Here is a place where I fully understand Picasso.
This may be too much information on arting and racetrack art. It may even be considered a rant, but I was asked a question. Here was my answer. In my eyes all you creatives are making art. Embrace the joy and emotions it provokes and march to your own drum.