What is your definition of art?

This piece of text is not a guide of any kind. Consider this as an independent substance with no ending. Never ending number of questions, with different possibilities of answers. And the best part of it is that the doors for discussion are always open.

Academic drawing. Pencil on paper

Have you ever asked yourself? Are there any standards to call something an art? Are those standards obvious for everybody?

And if so, what are they?

Here is a definition of art from Wikipedia:

Art is a diverse range of human activities involving the creation of visual, auditory or performing artefacts (artworks), which express the creator’s imagination, conceptual ideas, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

Does it give me an answer? Kind of. But kind of not.

When a bin full of litter represents, let’s say the fears that people carry with them throughout their life, and when it is just a bin full of litter? Well, if this bin is in the gallery, then it is an artwork, but if it is outside on the street then it’s just a bin.

Then who decides what bin goes to the gallery and what bin stays to fulfil its mission?

It is super confusing for an unrecognised artist, who lacks to get at least some social presence. I have spent 15 years learning academic drawing and portrait. That was and still is my main and most favourite subject. I also have learned different techniques and worked with different tools through different media: watercolour, charcoal, oil, ink, mosaic, textile design, stencils, fashion sketches, illustrations, collages, tailoring…

I truly like to create things with my own hands. It’s like when someone is playing the piano: there are hands, a simple part of the body, but the moment fingers touch that instrument the magic happens. There is this invisible connection between you and the instrument: the piano, the brushes, the pencil.

If there are no viewers then why create something at all? For yourself? For those moments when you feel inspired?

Alright. But after?

All artists want to be acknowledged, want to be seen.

Don’t trust anyone if they are telling you, that they don’t care about that — they are lying.

We all want to be seen. That’s why digital platforms as TikTok and Instagram are so popular. Otherwise, why would we enjoy creating photos, videos, making filters, putting hashtags to get likes, followers, reposts..

Some would say it is for the memories. I’m not sure.

Memories not necessarily have to be out there for everybody to see, you can store them at home in your photo albums. When someone spends two hours making that perfect angle for the selfie or half an hour making a picture of the food they are eating it is barely a memory, it is a vanity fair.

Or maybe it is a scream to the outside World: “Look at me, I am here, and I am unique”. Maybe we are all just very lonely?

Or is that art?

To paint a still life you would take fruits or flowers, would spend a lot of time making a perfect composition out of them and start painting them. Here is the same but instead of oil and brushes you have a camera and digital tools to make that picture more beautiful.

So what is wrong with that?

At the end, it is all about what each individual feels when they look at the artwork.

When you create something it is not about making it as similar to the original as possible, it is about making your painting in harmony for the viewer, to make them feel something. Feel the beauty, emotions, maybe a message the artist was trying to tell through that artwork.

The message.

Here we are.

Nowadays the artworks have to be provocative, scandalous in order to get people interested. Artworks have to say something.

The more it is political, social the better. There has to be an idea.

That’s why artworks become simpler, but the idea behind it deeper and sometimes couldn’t even be obvious at first.

Is that art?

When I am visiting the World’s greatest museums or galleries of fine art, I can feel the art in each painting. Looking at the greatest painters of all times I can feel that true gift of vision they have been given, the skills they have developed during the time, the knowledge and understanding they have got.

It is both breathtaking and scary. Or breathtakingly scary. In a good way.

In a way that you just discover a source of power for yourself that will move you in order to get more skills, to become better in what you do. At least to try to achieve what they have learned.

What about me and my ideas?

I don’t have them. That is the curse for the artists. You have given everything to express your vision, but you have nothing really to tell.

I mean, all the negatives don’t motivate me, that’s for sure. When something terrible happens in the World, I feel it in the way it just happened to me. I could break into tears, just because I feel other people’s pain and the level of empathy I have for them is just overwhelming, but I certainly don’t want to create at this moment or after.

When something amazing happens to me, I feel motivation and a certain uplifting feeling that made me want to create. But that something doesn’t have any message. It is just an artwork I have created being in a moment of happiness.

What if this is my message?

Maybe all I want to say is: I want to give you something beautiful to add more beauty to your life.

Maybe that message could be as simple as: “You don’t have to try to find the message, it is just about the creation process itself. Don’t overthink things. It’s not necessarily have to be so difficult.”

Ok. Then I think I found my message.

There is only one problem with that.

It is the most boring message there could be.

B-O-R-I-N-G.

No one needs just a beautiful piece. It is boring.

And even if someone needs, how to find that person among almost 8 billion people on this planet?

What if that someone is not even in this universe?

That’s even harder.

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Catherine Kass

Freelance Artist and Illustrator. Learning comes from articulation. This is what I do here