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What is Art?

Updated: Sep 14, 2020

When I was teenager, I always considered the highest form of art to be realism, and I admired those who were best able to portray reality through realistic drawings and paintings. I abhorred the quick cookie cutter artworks that I saw at the time, which many modern artists seemed to consider fine arts.

I was pretty good in the arts as a kid, but I did not pursue it as a career. Partly because my mom (the artist) said I should study business instead, but partly also because I got bored of the tediousness of artistic realism (I had forgotten how to have fun with just being creative).

Some of my early art works:

Colossus (of X-men), ink and colored pencil, in 7th grade

Leonardo da Vinci (my childhood hero), ink, in 8th grade

Some guy on a trashcan, in art club at Rocky Mountain High School

Hanging cloth still, charcoal pencil, in high school

Mary Magdalene, acrylic oil on canvas, in college

I did this painting above in the only art class I took in college... it took me about 200 hours to complete. The rest of the classes I took at CSU were general studies toward business major. I ended up dropping out after 2 years though, and have never looked back at college.

But I did go back to painting again, after an 8 year hiatus, and it was noticeably more difficult to regain my artistic touch with a brush:

Refugee, acrylic oil, in Basalt 2012

So I tried my hand at portraying something else I found fascinating...

The 4th Dimension, acrylic oil, in 2012

I was trying to paint a 2 dimensional representation of 4 dimensions above.

I also painted my best friend from high school and his wife, as an anniversary gift to them, but even after repeatedly painting and re-painting, I couldn't get it to how I really wanted it to come out. My hand couldn't quite do what my mind wanted it to, and this was the result...

It is the unequivocal reality of life, that we lose the skills we hardly use, and we gain those that we practice often. I haven't practiced painting enough in my adulthood, but I have been doing figure drawings and portraits here and there, which I still love to do.

Anyhoo, back to realism...

Artistic realism as an art form can get pretty boring if you lose sight of why you were doing the art work in the first place, and you become too focused on trying to reach the end goal of ultimate realism. Just like anything else in life where you focus too heavily on the end goal, and not the journey. Ya-da, ya-da, I'm sure you've heard the sayings... but they become sayings for a reason.

Looking back at my younger self's naivete, I realize that I knew nothing.

I only wished to believe that realism was the epitome of art, because that was what I was into at the time. But art is like beauty... it's in the eye of the beholder. Defining art is like defining beauty, love, or the ever-shifting wind.

For every type of art, everyone feels different emotions from their own personal experiences and circumstances in life. The music we hear, the play we see, the food we taste, even the scents and feelings of our environment we experience... it is always different for each of us, but they are all equally artful. Because life IS art.

We as human beings are each a masterpiece of artwork of our own unique design and creation.

Our entire existence as we know it is a grand artwork of unfathomable proportions that is artfully played out in real time around us constantly.

Everything in our shared reality I would consider a form of art, and we are all artists flying by our own whimsies within one big shared canvas. That's my interpretation, and I'm sticking to it. May your strokes on our shared canvas be brilliant and wild. :)


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