Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Top 10 Reasons to Create Art

Sedums and Skull
Copyright 2014 Hirschten
Oil on Canvas
Purchase Prints on Fine Art America

1.  To express emotion
If you are angry, happy, sad or in love you can use art to express your emotions.  The purpose of this form of art is to heal the artist by letting out pent up feelings, not to create a product.  If this appeals to you may be interested in the Art Therapy.  This form of art has its roots in the German Expressionist Movement, a group of artists who used art to reflect their internal world and were influenced by Freud, Jung and other psychologists.

2.  To communicate our values
Art can convey a message to the viewer.  Political art clearly goes into this category.  In addition if you create landscape art because the environment is important to you; you are communicating your values.  We often create more of what we want to see in the world.

3.  To open our eyes
When we look at a flower for hours on end in order to recreate it in artistic form we view it in a whole new way.  We break it apart, dissecting it until every detail is more apparent to us.  Art can open our eyes to the miraculous patterns found in nature.  We observe our world and appreciate it more fully.  Henry Miller said it best when he wrote, "The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass it becomes a mysterious, awesome, indescribably magnificent world in itself."

4.  To challenge ourselves
Sometimes we need direction.  Focusing our energy on accurately depicting a mountain stream can help an artist find direction in life.  Pushing ourselves to the limit of our abilities is healthy and promotes innovation.

5.  To share our experiences
Whether it is in celebration or anger we often want to share our experiences.  Art can be used to help others understand what it is to be another person with different values, skin tone or culture.  When a truth is expressed people listen.  This is a powerful form of art that can transform cultures.

6.  To honor the sacred beauty of creation
Many artists have a reverence for the natural world.  They use art as a way of honoring that messy beauty.

7.  To create more beauty in the world
William Morris founder of the Arts and Crafts Movement wrote, "Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be useful and believe to be beautiful."  He believed that we should not fill our lives with ugly things.  Artists who fit this category create art with the purpose of filling our homes and communities with more beauty.  The Aesthetic Movement and the writings of Oscar Wilde may interest artists with this purpose.
A word of caution: do not be fooled by standard measures of beauty.  Beauty is not easily defined.  It is in the eyes of the beholder.  Robert Henri wrote, "Beauty is an intangible thing; can not be fixed on the surface, and the wear and tear of old age on the body cannot defeat it.  Nor will a 'pretty' face make it, for 'pretty' faces are often dull and empty.  Beauty is never dull and fills all spaces."

8.  To understand the human experience
When we create art it can show us a lot about ourselves.  It can show what we are afraid of, what we value, what we love... what we are attracted to.  Art reflects the experiences of the people who create it.  I often see my students be shocked when they expose their inner lives to the outer world.  They are surprised at what they see in that mirror. 

9.  To articulate our purpose
Art can be used to narrow down our goals.  It can help us to articulate what it is we want to say before we make our final exit.  Sometimes I will have students who think that they will use painting to express their message but soon find that writing or another art form would suit their needs best.  

10. To enjoy ourselves
Sometimes it is as simple as that.  We create art for the enjoyment of creating art.  When we do this we are participating in the great cosmic dance, being active, being alive.  Many art movements have campaigned for this purpose.  The Decadent Movement proclaimed "L'art pour l'art... Art for art's sake."  After Zen Buddhist writings such as "Zen and the Art of Archery" were published in the west artists strived to enjoy the process of art more than the product.  The Process Art Movement and Jackson Pollack fell into this category.   

In conclusion...

The reasons we create art are as diverse as the many artists of the world.  Sometimes artists conflict because they do not understand that the motivation for another artist may be different from their own.  I have seen artists bad mouth one another and I am tired of it.  Through art we can come to better understand ourselves and each other.  Art is unique to the human experience.  If we truly value diversity and the worth of every person we must strive to understand the various reasons for creating art.
Reasons to create art can influence style but it doesn't have to.  Another element to respecting each other is recognizing when a style is different from our own it does not mean the art is "bad" or "not art."  There is room for a diverse range of styles in the art world.  Just as "one man's junk is another man's treasure" recognize that just because a work of art doesn't speak to you it might be important to someone else.

May these reasons to create art inspire you to find your voice.  I want to hear what you have to say.

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