A group of people have hiked to a tall and splendid waterfall. They all stand back to look at the magnificent sight.
A geologist in the group studies the rock, ponders the composition of the sedimentary layers. An historian remembers the origins of the area, the Native Americans who dwelt there. An engineer may calculate the rate of the water’s flow and recall an old waterwheel and mill he saw further downstream.
The photographer in the group is taking photos from different angles, pursuing a certain idea. The dancer is watching the water flow over the rocks, dreaming of expressing it in a waterfall dance. The poet is composing verse in his head to express the sight in words. The artist is studying the atmosphere around the falling water, the light and rainbow play in the mist, the color of the water and rock. The musician is listening to the separate sounds, taking apart the birdsong, roar of the falls, the wind rushing through the trees.
All of these people are enjoying being there, all feeling their own unique responses and ideas. But the artists in the group will take the moments into their various arts and express them as separate creations. Why?
I believe that art is a means people use to process their world. We are surrounded, bombarded by what our senses take in at any given moment. We learn to tune out the extraneous in order to learn anything at all. We learn to focus on the sense we need at the moment to stay safe, to enjoy food, to relax through music, to learn from a teacher. When we stroke a kitten, the exquisite touch of the warm furry creature is amazing. Experiencing the word of sensation can be very pleasurable.
The visual artist also wants to study the composition of the sights he sees. How the insect is segmented, the light flashes on the colors of the wings. How the flower fits together at the center, the petal shapes and stem joining. The mountain rising over the lake, the clouds and colors in the sunset.
Drawing is a first activity for the visual artist, an act of joy and trying to understand how the world is made. Through drawing an object the artist comes to understand how it is put together and to express that discovery.
The act of expressing is cathartic, releasing tension built up by the bombardment of perceptions, allowing for the how and why to be clearly shown.
Creating begins as a way to understand the world as we perceive it. Processing the perceptions can lead to artistic creation. The act of creating can be wonderful or frustrating, but the artists I know pursue this once discovered, “Because I have to.”
Recently I wondered what could I create from a blob of paint. So I wet a paper and added watercolors randomly.After it dried, I imagined a tall sailing ship. Starting at the base, I began removing paint by adding water and blotting it off with toweling. Forming the ship. Next I did more of the same to form the sails and structures. Fun!Done, and the blob of paint has become Sailing Ship.Does your art bring you understanding? Joy? Frustration? Do you find meaning in your art through self expressing? Seeking a means to inspire, process, share yourself and unique ideas with others?Art is created for many reasons, in many different forms from the transitory to the more permanent. From the sewn quilt to the dance to the novel to the sculpture. Whatever your means of expression, I wish you great joy in it.”