Saturday, 28 August 2010

Making Art is Really Really Hard

I went to a local art fair today. It was at a public school in the auditorium and it wasn't curated; they hung everything that was brought to their door. As you would expect most of it isn't what you would necessarily call Art.

As I walked around, looking carefully at every piece hanging on the walls, I was touched at all of these people's attempts to create and express something that had meant something to them. Often times the idea was cliche, someone's notion of what art is. Occasionally the idea was quite sound, something genuinely felt, but the creator didn't have the skill or knowledge to be able to express it. Badly drawn, poor composition, no experience with colour, etc.

There were a few pieces by local artists. These were better. Perhaps skillfully created, the ideas more unique. I couldn't say that there was any work that made a real impression on me.

But why should there be? This was an art fair of local people at a public primary school.

As I continued through the show, I felt my heart start to crack. I realized how very very difficult it is to make art. How many years learning skills, developing ideas, getting together the courage to try and express what really matters to you. Then more years of honing skills, shoring up the courage to persist, more honing of skills, overcoming self doubt, more honing of skills, continually trying to reach closer to something... Real. Failure, more failure, disappointment, and persistence.
If you continue and persevere you may get to the point where what you are making is art. But then is it good art? Great art?

If you persist perhaps you can get to the point of making art, but I don't know if you have a guarantee, no matter how much you try, that you will make good art. Art that makes an impression, communicates Life. And then... Great art. Well, I have no experience to talk about what that would mean.

So, what is my point? I guess it was the change in my perception. Many years ago I would have gone to a similar show and ended up feeling rather depressed. Kind of anti-inspired. This time my response was very different. I felt cracked open. I felt touched, I felt admiration for the courage that all of us who create show. I felt almost an awe at the sheer numbers of people who create when it is so difficult and can be so discouraging.

I have taken a long long time to make anything I consider art. I look back at my early stuff and it was no better than anyone else's at that show. My early creations were awkward and cliche and embarrassing. Fortunately I didn't realize at the time how bad they were.

I am not an artistic genius. Most of us aren't. The vast vast majority of practicing artists aren't. Which doesn't mean that they can't become, or aren't good artists. Maybe some even become geniuses through hard work. I still make some bad work, fortunately not the majority of it. If I recognize it, I don't show it. Though it is hard to say what I will look back on and decide is bad and what is good when I know more.


lilasvb said...

very interesting post! art is so hard to be! living from art is very hard.
working on art is so good, so sensitive, os painfull somedays but so deep of freedom

Jackie said...

I think if I were to think about Art like that it might be a bit overwhelming. Kinda like a pioneer who had to hitch up a wagon and travel long distances . If I thought oh my, I have to hitch up the wagon and it's going to be rough terrain and dangerous and then when I get there maybe I won't like it.I think most artist just find comfort in the process of creating .I am just beginning . I only started to draw. I think I started about a year ago .I have no formal training but I plan to start an art class next week to learn the fundamentals. Sometimes I make something I like and sometimes it's crap but the part of me that art touches and heals is what keeps me trying .The process of a relaxed mind while I smudge is reward enough for me . Thank you for reminding me thats it about process not product.

Zom said...

I appreciate what you are saying Jackie. Creation is about process, you are correct. And I fully support how you are going about being creative.

Being a professional artist is different again. If it is one's chosen vocation there is not only a different level of commitment but one has to think about what one creates as well. The 'product' as you called it. (Personally I don't think of art as a product). Creating art is also about communication. There is little point in being an artist if I am only concerned with my own process. Please note the use of the word only.

But this does not reflect on what you are doing. It is the difference between one who loves to sing and a professional singer. And so on.

Momo Luna said...

Wow, great post! It brings all kind of feelings and questions for me. Feelings of discouragement as well as feelings of hope and firmness. I can't, won't ask myself if my creations are art because it would drive me nuts haha. I'm afraid that i stop creating then. On the other hand ofcourse i ask myself sometimes if it's good what i am doing or is it (really) bad. All those insecurity, but fortunately i háve to draw or paint, i can't stop it.

Sweet greetz!

Zom said...

I know what you mean Moma Luna. I have come to the point where I try to turn away from the question. I have to create, so in a way there is no point in really asking if they are good or bad. Only if I can do better and how.

Walk in the Woods said...

For me, the "art" in integral to the process of creation rather than the outcome. I admire the creative *process* more than the creation itself, and so I admire that in the works of others … whether I would place it in my home, hang it on my wall, or whatever.

Nice post.

Jackie said...

Zom ,
I would love to hear your thoughts on this further . I think this is an important subject. I agree that an artist communicates through their work But what you mean to communicate and what is actually perceived by the viewer is something unpredictable.
I think an artists feelings only comes through the piece when they are inspired and immersed in the subject.
I would like to ask what your intention is when you create. I would love to hear your thoughts on your process as you decide on your piece .I do love your artwork .Also what makes an artist a professional and who decided what is really art ? I think these are questions to ponder . Remember that alot of your master painters were not recognized as professional artists but yet they kept creating . What do you think motivated them ?

Mar said...

well expressed post!

Zom said...

Hey Rose, lovely to 'see' you again.
Thanks Mar
Thank you for the questions Jackie. I think I will have to write another post to try and answer those.

nollyposh said...

Such inspiring words and timely for me... sighhh~ing over my attempts at art <3 (((hugs)))

Linda said...

Paul Gauguin was laughed at by the public and by his peers. Now? He's a beloved artist. I'm not sure it's anyone place to say what is art and what is not. My criteria is did the artist put their heart and soul into a piece or just slap some paint on canvas? The former is art "to me" even if it's primitive and the artist inexperienced. The latter is not, even if the artist is well known and can sell it for hundreds of dollars.

Zom said...

What I meant to express in this post is much more about how difficult it is to make art, and no criticism of anyone who is attempting to. The opposite in fact, I am touched by our attempts.
Jackie has reminded me of an old post where perhaps it is expressed more eloquently (because I quote some else, lol.)