Chapter 5: art, artists and other human beings
If you want to know what this blog is about…
What is art and who is an artist?
There seems to be a lot of controversy around this question. The people who are supposed to “understand” and moreover, the people who think of themselves as “real” artists, are always trying to make a distinction between artists and non-artists, to draw a line to separate themselves from the rabble. Let me try and see if I manage to offer an unambiguous opinion: I think that is pure utter absolute crap. Who is an artist? The answer is pretty simple. We all are. Art is co-substantial to humanity. Are you human? well, there you go.
OK, there is art that sells, art that is appreciated by other people, universal art, and art for personal joy, but it is all art nevertheless if it was created with an artistic spirit. Even if nobody likes it. I do not care if it turned out ugly or perfect, because art is subjective and what society thinks today about some artist or artwork might have nothing to do with what they will think in 200 years. Remember Van Gogh?
I think art is the distilled essence of what makes us human. Art is art because of what we pour into it when we create. Art has nothing to do with the final outcome, but with the intention. Art can be exquisite, clumsy, ugly, rough, naive, uplifting, depressing, unnerving, bothersome, irking, soothing… art can be anything and nothing, and nobody has the authority to define what is and what is not art. Art is in everything, in the meals your mother cooks every day, and in the songs you hum while you are hanging clothes out to dry. Art is in the drawing you finger in the moisture of your own breath on a window pan, in the flower you carefully poise on your lover’s pillow. Nowhere, everywhere, anywhere.
Art is a fundamental means of human expression
I am talking about this today because I know myself an artist. I am, at most, a mediocre one in what I do best, but I do not give a damn. It is such a pleasure to be immersed in the process of creating that the final outcome matters little . Of course, I like it better if I am happy with the result, even happier if others like it also but, in truth, it will have nothing to do whatsoever with what the rest of the world thinks about it. That is vanity, not art.
Being an artist, I have tried lots of different disciplines. I have written songs, sung them, played along with my cheap acoustic guitar, or my gorgeous black Les Paul, I have drawn thousands of figures, skulls, monsters, classic compositions, bookmarks, some comic, I build and paint scale airplanes, ships and figures, I shot photographs and create posters and pictures, build frames, I write some, take care of a little garden, carve, sculpt with paper mache, paint… I have tried it all and stood out in nothing. I am a lousy guitarist and an absolutely miserable singer. Who cares? Producing art has nothing to do with selling art. Producing art has a lot to do with expressing oneself. And I tell you, there was a time in my life when writing songs, singing them and playing along with the guitar were instrumental in the release of my need to express what was dark irreversible sorrow. We all have lost somebody along the way, right? Well, I took shelter inside my cheap guitar. Thank god I could sing. And thank god nobody was listening 🙂
Now I mostly create art to express my believe in the beauty of life, or to to try to make people aware of it, because we have just one life and we cannot afford to waste it, but I have used art to express everything at one time or another. And it feels good, healthy, necessary. Indispensable.
What am I getting at?
Easy. I am stating with full conviction and beyond any shadow of a doubt that you are an artist too. And you, and you. We all are. We have been all our lives, for generations, since we became human, because art makes us human. We grow up artists and then we allow society to convince us we are not. We compare our art with that of others and if it doesn’t keep up with what our culture considers good, we feel ashamed of our clumsiness and quit. We forget how pleasurable it was to create when we didn’t even consider others would judge it, and we bury that part of our soul. Once again we are crippled. Once again, we lose the fight between courage and fear.
When Imention Van Gogh, it is for two reasons. Van Gogh is an obvious example of how wrong our contemporaries can be when judging our art, but is also a less obvious example of how wrong a guy can be when seeking personal satisfaction through social recognition. Remember Van Gogh if somebody tells you your art is crap, but do not be like Van Gogh yourselves.
So, take the opinions of all these “wise” men and women who think they can decide who is an artist and who is not and kindly ask them to shove these opinions up where the sun shouldn’t shine. Then, be proud and humble for being, no less but no more, just another human being and release the capability you do have to express yourself by creating. Try, experiment, learn, improve, but most of all, play, express yourself, and enjoy it. And never care what the rest think. Only you can decide if your art is telling what you meant, and the opinion of the rest matters nothing compared to what our soul grows and shines when we let it create. The rest is just vanity.
Be free, be complete. Express yourself!!
About the Pictures
I am a visual guy, but also physical. I like to have objects I can touch. I am fascinated by the origins of humankind and particularly enjoy visiting prehistoric caves with cave art paintings. I have seen a few through the years, and tend to collect related objects. This bison is one of them. It is a carved fragment of a Magdalenian (15,000 BP) spear-thrower made in deer antler and it is exquisite and priceless. I always try to get them near the visited sites where they were found or related to, and afterwards I like to spend some leisure time handling them, looking at them this way and that, absorbing every tiny detail. And ponder. I try to reach the man, or woman (take nothing for granted, right?) that made it, who he was, who he loved, what his life was like… I always feel an instantaneous affection, a bond of sorts that I find really bitter-sweet gratifying. Because I will never know, but still,he, or she, talks to me through her art. So once in a while, I take one of these objects and travel though time and space. This is just a simple picture of the object against a dark background I then replaced with a texture of free commercial use downloaded from the web. I then added some post-processing to highlight the detail, darkened and under-saturated the whole, and finished by arranging the thought it inspired last time I had it in my hands. The font is also of free commercial use downloaded from the web. The four animals in the corners are also part of a font of free commercial use. To do the embossing of the text I followed the technique I learned from a You Tube tutorial. You see? It’s all pretty feasible.
The second picture is a similar processing of another object I love, The Lady of Brassenpouy, carved some 23,000 years ago out of a small piece of mammoth tusk ivory. It is the oldest female carved bust ever found and it is small, subtle refined and also priceless. I used the same texture, a little lighter and upside down, so it is different but matches the first image. I removed the text I wrote with it in order to add this picture to this post, because the reflections it raised on me had nothing to do with art. We will talk about her in the next chapter.
This pictures can be printed in photo paper, canvas, metal or acrylic surface from 8″ to 48″, or in greeting card format. You can check them by clicking the images above.
I am all in for customizing pictures. All of them can be retouched in many ways, texts altered, changed or deleted. Ask freely.
2 Responses to Chapter 5: art, artists and other human beings
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Once again, you said it very well. At the very essence of our humanity is the desire and drive to create…thus art. I agree that it doesn’t matter what anyone thinks about ones art…it’s about what you think…was it what you were trying to create…did you do the best you could…did it make you happy? Do you like it?? We were born to create!!!
Nicely put. It’s true, it’s a drive. And your questions, inwards oriented are, at least from my point of view, also true.