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The Definition of Art

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This is a post from Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.

Definition of Art

We’re visiting the dictionary in this post, my friend. Painting, Printmaking and Drawing are all bound to creativity and expression. One of the definitions of art is ‘the conscious use of skill and creative imagination – especially in the production of aesthetic objects‘.

Printing an edition of a two-color linocut

Art-Making Intention

Let’s break that down a little… The first part – the conscious use of skill – is related to intention – building something. That time when we are making, scribbling, painting, sketching, layering pigments, etc.

I love the phrase the conscious use of... This part is active; when we are using, and experimenting with art supplies in our hands.

It’s a simple description of our favorite art making time. And building the skill part of the definition requires using the tools, and repetition, right? It’s all linked together.

Skills and creative imagination are two distinct ingredients of art-making

What is Imagination?

The second phrase in the definition of art – the conscious use of creative imagination – is the noticing and idea generation in creativity.

Creating is probably the most personal component for artists, because it happens in your head first. You don’t need tools, or a “skill” for imagination – you simply have to Think. I like to think about art. And I bet you do too, right?

Imagination is a beautiful lake, fed via rivers and tributaries of influence. Your personal history and life experiences feed that lake. Imagination is marinated in memory, emotions, passions and longing.

Looking at other artist’s work is a big source of inspiration for my imagination. Reading about an artist’s mindset, or their history, in the form of letters, methods and career paths is also very inspiring.

Feed Your Imagination

Science insists that going for a walk does wonders for creative imagination (read about the study here). Music helps add to imagination.

Or you can listen to art-related podcasts, or experiment with art supplies, or take an art workshop online.

Have you considered a ‘meet and make’ with other artists so you can talk about art, and watch another artist work?

Bulkhead watercolor on paper (sold)

Practicing Your Art

Art is usually created when we’re alone.

This part of the skill-building sequence is often challenging for beginner artists. It certainly was for me.

Making art on a regular basis get’s tripped by fear, time-restraints, the need for guidance, or supplies, etc. Lucky for us, there are resources online for some of those challenges.

The trick is, you have to actively reach out for help to jump those art-blocking hurdles.

Analysis Paralysis is real. I used to ponder and fret over how to start every single painting.

Now, I begin watercolor paintings like construction projects. A grid drawing first, just like a blueprint to a house, working on each drawing in mini sessions. I grout art-time in between the hard tile of life-obligations.

Gridding a drawing for a watercolor, at the kitchen counter. I work on these in little pockets of time, till I have time to paint.
That supplies me with lots of drawings, ready to paint, and regular drawing practice.

Artistic Expression

We often see the word “expression” in the definitions of art too. Expression is defined as ‘the process of making known one’s thoughts or feelings’. You are expressing on paper and canvas, or carving into a block, or sketching.

If you’ve been spending a lot of time in your own head, pondering worldly things during a pandemic, it feels nice to open the spigot and work with your hands.

When you’ve been immersed in consuming – via social media, news broadcasts or reading other people’s words – its a rejuvenating break to replace consuming with creating. The direction of flow is the opposite of consuming, when we create. We pour out of ourselves with art.

The next sequence in the definition of art is sharing one’s work – making it known to others.

Bulkhead in process

Grown Up Artists

Sharing your work balances the alone-time at the art table. When a 4 year old finishes a crayon drawing, they barely finish before holding it up to announce “Look what I made!”.

When an adult finishes a drawing, they often stuff it in a self-loathing drawer, and hide the results of their efforts with grown up judgement.

Let your four year old self out of the dungeon, and share your work. Pick an audience that’s encouraging.

Back Yard, New England watercolor on paper (sold)

Make More Art with Encouragement

Take the encouragement from your friends and family *in*.

Don’t crush their compliments underfoot with a boot cobbled with everything you hate about the art you made.

It’s easier to remove an old habit (negative self talk) by replacing it with a healthier alternative that occupies the empty space where the bad habit used to live.

Learn to take encouragement in. Set your mind to feeding your learning self with more encouragement to stay with your efforts. Remind your naysayer that you’re learning something that takes time and repetition.

Art studio table with printmaking and drawing tools

Have Courage with your Art

Here’s the thing I learned about being a beginner at art; sharing your work leads to making more art.

I’m telling the truth here, so keep an open mind. Discussion with other artists is a salad of encouragement, discovery and community. Step up to that table of creative sustenance.

Join an art club, take a weekend workshop, read a book, attend art openings, listen to art lectures, visit an art museum.

Drawing from life at a Daniel Sprick workshop – searching for my tribe of fellow artists

Gather Your Art Friends

Artist tribes help stomp out the judgment gremlin, so we can get back to making stuff.

Speaking to other artists gets thoughts out of our heads, and pipes them into action with art supplies.

Getting those words outside your head – with other artists – works for art-related problem solving too.

Discussion with like-minded creative folks provides perspective, harvests tips and fires the combustion of our creative engines.

And when it comes to problem solving, Talking it Out has been an effective strategy for decades. Find your artist tribe, and mingle often.

Thanks for stopping by to mingle. :) I’ll see you in the next post -


Property Line, watercolor painting on paper (sold)

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The post The Definition of Art appeared first on Belinda Del Pesco’s Art Blog Belinda Del Pesco.


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