Monday, 23 November 2009

What is an Artist?

I find that since I'm having difficulty determining what is art, I'm also starting to wonder what makes one an artist. 

Artists are as often as not, not "traditionally" trained as in the case of many other professions.  You don't need a license, degree or formal training to "practice" art.  Some of the best "artists" I've come across have no formal training and in some cases have never once even enrolled in an art class.  Some make a living through their art despite their lack of formal training.  Some who are formally trained produce what I would consider the most hideous garbage out there!  So who's an artist?

Today Barbara Reid came to speak at our local public library for the children of my kids school.  She's a classically trained artist who works as a successful author/illustrator.  I wasn't actually paying close attention to her talk as I was sitting at the back of the room crochetting having just been a volunteer there for the purpose of getting the kids safely to their destination from the school.  Something caught my ear though as I was counting stitches. 

"When I'm finished my picture, it never turns out as great as I imagined it...." or something to that effect was what I believe I heard her say.  She had my undivided attention after that statement. 

Did I hear her wrong?  Perhaps, but I don't think so.  If she did say this, this isn't something you hear often from a professional.  Self-doubt. 

In my experience the people that generally are the best in their field are the ones that are constantly evolving and trying to figure out how to make things better.  When asked how long it took her to learn how to create art with plasticine she replied,

"....I'm still learning.  I'm always learning new ways to make things better."

As a health care worker in my experience the best doctors were the ones who were the least arrogant.  Arrogant people already know everything and aren't willing to listen to a new way of doing something.  I suppose it's the same in every field.

So a good artist is willing to continually open themselves up to new ideas.  Not arrogant.  Perhaps a bit scattered.  (This comes from watching those around me whos art I'm interested in.)

All of that being said here are pictures of dogs making art at Bruce Pit our local dog park:

Do you think this is art?  They are after all pouring themselves into their work!


Anonymous said...

Working with many crafters, and having been surrounded by many maritime artists both in and out of class, I agree that the ones I admired the most feel they have so much more to learn. Although in some cases they make their living selling, or teaching their art, they strive to learn more, and improve upon what they know.

All I know is that I'm still learning. And I have no blow torch to practice with :( as well as not having access to a good silverwork instructor anymore. But I have learned now to make pretty floral wreaths. :)

- Not yucky at all.

Jennifer Rose said...

"in my experience the best doctors where the ones who were the least arrogant. "

this is so true and i wish I came across more doctors like this

is the dog making art? someone would probably pay for the tree and love it, so its possibly art :p

i agree that a good artist is always trying new ideas, learning and trying to improve

Perpetual Chocoholic said...

You make wreaths with a blow torch Very Yucky?

Jennifer's funny after I wrote that the artist during her next presentation talked about how she made a little yellow patch at the tree in one of her pictures where her dog peed. I guess it is art after all;-)