Our talent is one of the very best things about our country. The thought of skill in the arts and crafts fills me with hope and optimism. It is beautiful to watch and hard to acquire, but always the results are worth achieving. It is so important to nurture these things in everyone, old or young. I shout this at governments. Skills are important for the brains of individual lives; for the cohesiveness of society as a whole; for individual fulfillment; for a sense of purpose; for sharing with others and therefore passing skill's knowledge on, thus enabling the old and young to relate. It is important for bringing positiveness into the world everytime something skillful is made; for dexterity and co-ordination; for a sense of drive and purpose in life; for resilience; for a sense of achievement; for a sense of learning to cope and overcoming hurdles; for learning about the learning process; for learning to be resourceful; for a sense of self worth, self esteem, so lacking in too many damaged people
( even if we are normalised ). All this is severely lacking in our fast moving, have-it-now, instant and disposable society. Skill moves people and keeps us in touch with our emotions; unites people; changes lives; makes people creative and balances character. It is so important for individuals and therefore society as a whole.
" Think of my pleasure in solitude, in comparison of my commerce with the world - there I am a child - there they do not know me, not even my most intimate acquaintance - I give into their feelings as though I were refraining from irritating a little child - Some think me middling, others silly, others foolish - everyone thinks he sees my weak side against my will; when it truth it is with my will. I am content to be thought all this because I have in my own breast, so great a resource."
Does not every artist feel this?
This is a vast subject. It is about the arrangement of objects or elements in any work of art or craft. Even we, as individuals are living works of art and need to be composed. Music, poetry, language, all the visual arts, require composition in order for the viewer, listener, wearer, partaker to be informed of the intention of the practitioner.
There are principles of composition. There is an established, visual ordering and formal structure, and Western composition is very different from Eastern.
In the visual arts, we need to consider Line, Shape, Colour, Texture, Tone, Space, Layout, Lighting, Perspective, Balance, Movement, Emphasis, Rhythm, and whether the WHOLE is interesting and expressive of intention. There are ways of making something a bit boring into something of interest and worth looking at or giving time to let the artist's work speak.
Awareness takes time to develop but it is well worth honing an evaluating eye on this great subject.
I was talking to someone the other day who said she was a Social Artist. I didn’t know what she meant. I assumed an artist who makes social statements and left it at that.
What she meant was that there was no point in being a practicing artist because there are so many, too many artists. There are artists everywhere. I figured she was a Community Artist, one who teaches and gets involved with community projects. This got me thinking because I too have felt this in my more negative moments. When one is involved in the arts, one’s networks, contacts, interactions are all art or craft based, and it can feel like there is an artist under every bush and what’s the point of being yet another one? It has all been said and done a thousand times. Why should anyone want to see my take on things?
Well, millions of poems have been written and there are still people writing new ones. There is loads of music in the world, but there are still composers creating new pieces. There are trillions of artists, but there are still people being born with the drive to continue the culture, the interpretation and the legacy of the past. We re-invent from the past and re-interpret the present, pointing to a different and unknown future. It is this brilliance that makes us human. It is this creativity and inventiveness that marks us out from the rest of the animal kingdom. We have the means to infinite creativity. It is this newness or renewal that perpetuates our cultural expansiveness.
Sometimes we need to look a little more inward at our drive and desires rather than trying to see our place as another unnecessary cog in the creative wheel because we cannot assess our own contribution. We cannot see how we affect the world around us and we will never know. So looking inward to the conviction and the drive is essential. We know what we need to do as artists and it takes a lifetime to achieve it. So be an artist. Give airing to that undying motivation and bee creative. Make things. Invent things. Compose things.
The only redeeming feature of mankind are the works of art that she or he produces. Art and love. Art is the perfection of our creative abilities. Too often the seedlings of bad desire find the right soil in which to germinate and they flourish into monsters within ourselves.
'Many and sharp the numerous ills
Inwoven in our frame!
More pointed still we make ourselves -
Regret, remorse and shame!
And man whose heaven-erected face
The smiles of love adorn,
Man's inhumanity to man
Made countless thousands mourn.'
Robert Burns Man was Made to Mourn.
We will always do things that make us condemnable but art, is the outlet for what potential there is for perfection. Art and love, but even love can be a cloak for 'Love covers a multitude of sins'. Love is always imperfect and prejudiced but art can have the feeling of absolute perfection, so can architecture, music, poetry.
How do they do that?
My definition is that Craft is the perfection of technique, and Art is the perfection of ideas. Art has to say something. It is not just craft with a beauty and a function. It comes out of culture and it expresses the culture from which it came in new ways. It shows a different angle on life. Art has expression and it does touch one and it exists, or comes into being after the sifting of ideas. Craft is to do with the skill of the use of the medium without emotion or expression. There is craft in art and vice versa just as there is poetry in music, or drama in music, or movement in painting and sculpture. The cross overs are numerous, but the essence is specific. One can be in awe of both: craft for its perfection of technique and art, in the way it touches us. Art can also be a descriptive term, when craft has gone beyond what most people can do, when it is the pinnacle in its field and is true excellence and it is awesome. One can talk abut craft being a fine art - one has got it down to a fine art - but it is not the same as Fine Art, for it does not have emotion or expression.
I think there are three levels of symbolism in art. There is the personal symbolism that is only really known to yourself. It may be in your dreams; your ways of understanding things. If you are an artist it may be what you express. There is a universal symbolism, that anyone in any time can understand and interpret. That would probably be to do with core words, or facial expressions, for example. Then there is cultural symbolism that most within that culture can understand the meaning, but those outside in place or time, may not.
This small piece in slate is called Grindstone. It symbolises the everyday, the hard grind. It is an acknowledgement of the millions of people who have ever lived - incidentally, half the people who have ever lived are alive now!!!
The everyday is the most sacred. It is where we are. It is why things matter. It is why to pollute water is bad; why to pollute the environment is bad. It is where we learn and find out, make mistakes. The everyday is sacred because it is normal and when we lose the normal we know why it is so special.
Jean Jacques Rousseau in his 'Confessions' says that if he cannot walk, he cannot think. To walk is to think. All artists need to think; to clear the mind of the mundane, the present, the pressing matters. Somehow walking gets one away from the crowding in of thoughts that stifle the creative mind.