The value of art is in the eye of the beholder. Yet the value of art to its creator is often incalculable. Each artist creates for their own unique reasons. The longer I live the more I realize I am motivated to create art for three basic reasons.
First, I enjoy the process of creating art: arranging the elements (theme, composition, color, shapes, etc.), transmuting three-dimensional images into two dimensional images that appear three dimensional, finding ways to help viewers connect emotionally, overcoming challenges that arise along the way and learning new things.
I also enjoy the reactions that art can provoke. Sometimes there is a viscerally emotional response elicited in the viewer. Sometimes it is positive and other times it can be negative. Often the opportunity for an emotional connection is missed and that is interesting too.
Finally art is one of the healthier, more effective ways I deal with emotions and thoughts. Art provides a way for me to lose myself for a period of time and sort through the recent experiences I've encountered. Some forms of physical exercise help in a similar way but the process of making art helps me build a firewall between my thoughts and the world as I gain a better understanding of them and appreciation for them. In this sense, the process of creating art and sharing it, is meditative in nature.
"Building a firewall between my thoughts and world has always been a priority." -Stuart Shils
Earlier this week I attended an open forum for artists and art enthusiasts sponsored by the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts (PAFA). Nearly twenty people attended virtually via Zoom. The discussion was facilitated by a PAFA alumni named Matthew and featured an experienced artist and PAFA instructor named Stuart Shils. The intended focus was the exploration of how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting artists and how they are adjusting to the mitigation strategies (i.e. social distancing and sheltering at home). It was motivating to hear the information shared by attendees and much of what Matthew and Stuart shared resonated deeply with me.
"Art is long and life is short" -Stuart Shils
Thankfully, while most on the call expressed how they were pained by the sense of loss and mourning brought on by the COVID-19 Pandmic, they all seemed to be finding ways to adapt their art practice. Some seemed to be leveraging the extra time alone as a means of increasing their creative output.
This time we are living through leaves me little choice. Creating art is one of the healthiest actions I can take. Naturally, I am sad to hear of all the loss people are experiencing. I am grateful my family is healthy and that I am gainfully employed. I realize some folks are having a tougher time than we are at this moment and I feel grief for all that is lost.
"The absence of expectation is the beginning of discovery" -Stuart Shils
One thing I am looking forward to is the time I will spend in front of an easel or sketchpad working on developing new skills, learning about different subjects and losing myself for a while in the process.