Art is a strong and effective piece of the human experience, both physically and spiritually. I believe we are all artists. We are also all interpreters of art, human-made or otherwise. You don't need to work in any specific medium, or to be published or widely accepted to be an artist. If there is any part of your life that's not a science, any activity or creation that you navigate by your own intuition, that's art. Curious about the art you create regularly? Read on.
You might not think of a Hot Air Balloon crew as artists, but look at the ride they create. Sure, there is some science, but this is probably one of the most artistic forms of transportation in existence. Why? Simple. Once they're in the air, they move with the wind and create an experience from the somewhat unknown direction they will travel. See here about an amazing night of fire and music, created by balloon crews.
To help illustrate the concept of art, I’ll throw it’s contrast into the mix, science. Science and art balance each other. They’re similar concepts, but fall into opposite ends of a spectrum. A science is something that is often done by the book. When you want to control electricity to light or darken an area of your home, you flip a switch on or off, not much to choose between. Creation, or rather, operation, it often follows recipes and precedents. There are usually detailed instructions only to be followed closely, only to be recreated just as the last person did it. That’s science.
Art is the opposite way, you vary every little detail. Take painting for example. Everything from which way you move the brush to how far you lean the canvas, it’s all choice and it’s all up to the painter. Those choices can be influenced by many different things, like mood and personal experience. The combinations and levels of different influences can be woven at will. The second the brush touches the surface, anything can change as it begins to move from one place to another. As the artist continues, he or she may see a light flicker in the distance, hear a sound or smell something that triggers a memory. Those senses may cause a complete shift in the vision that sparked the work. That’s art. No constraints. Just sheer will to create and the ebb and flow of that creation. That process of creation is the art, not the product that is created.
Every line, color and shape of the above stained glass window was an outcome of a process, something based on the artist's experience and beliefs.
By popular concept, the idea of being an artist is often roped down to people who use the most obvious mediums. In other words, if someone isn’t holding a paint brush, a sculpting tool or the like, they’re labeled as “not an artist”. I don’t think this could be further from the truth.
Go back to my description above about art being more of a process than a product. Think about the part where I talked about how, within that process, anything can be changed. Art goes by the gut. A lot of life is handled that way. If there is anything, anything at all that you do by the seat of your pants, you’re an artist. If there’s nothing of the sort in your life, you’re probably a clone, a robot or some other type of machine. That’s not an insult. It’s proof that we’re all artists.
We all have moments when we create something by intuition and choice. We all create while under the influence of our own past and present. The “somethings” that we create then become an influence to ourselves, everyone and everything in the spaces around us. Many of us work in conventional mediums, like photography, writing or dance. Many people work in mediums that are more hidden to the "Art world", like conversation, cooking and teaching.
Art is absolutely everywhere. Aside from sitting in frames and galleries, it rests in our ovens, or skies and in our hearts and minds. Forms of art include therapy, friendship and party planning. The spectrum is huge and in it falls so many unnoticed things, like how we talk someone through a tough situation or how we lock down a tricky business deal.
Allowing the idea of art to be overlaid onto any situation is an art by itself. It’s important that we do this because art is part of a system that balances well when it’s allowed to properly function. It gives a person a way to have healthy control in a world that is often far out of it. No matter what happens by the will of others, the artist can flow with the consequences of life. This brings me to the idea that, triggers for the creation of art are also everywhere.
Here's an example, a friend of mine was recently sitting in a car at a stoplight waiting for the signal to get moving. Behind him came another driver traveling at twice the speed limit while messing with a phone. My friend looked in his rear-view and knew this person was not going to stop in time. He had nowhere safe to move to. So, as expected, soon came a short, loud screech from rubber sliding across pavement. This was of course, followed by an extreme slam and a jolt he'll never forget. Clearly, my friend had something to be seriously angry about. His actual reaction was something I'll never forget.
The person who hit him was completely out of sorts, saying this kind of thing has never happened before. At this point in the story I expected to hear how my friend gave the other driver a heated lecture. There was nothing of the sort. He lent an understanding ear and stayed calm. He even gave the other driver a water bottle out of concern and good will. THAT... was art. While in pain and looking at the damage to the vehicles, Instead of adding to the suffering, my friend found a way to help calm it. He did this in the way he addressed the other driver. As far as I know, not one at the scene pulled out any paint brushes, sculpting tools or knitting needles. But the point is, there was art on the scene of an accident. My friend had to use an on-point, quickly pieced system of compassion and self-calming techniques.
The above is a manhole cover on a city street, a piece of art where there should only be utility.
A child’s environment is a great example of where art is needed. Adults need it too, but this is one easy highlight. For example, take a kid who's failing at becoming a fit in a school system. I'm using myself as an example here. Growing up, I did terribly in academics and physical education, but found solace in art class. No matter how bad my grades were in other classes, and they were bad, I found success during art period.
While failing at history reports and math exams, in art class I could create something complete, something compelling, a reminder that even in chaos I could find a moment of control. This is because art is done by the heart, not the book. This is why I have such a hard time hearing of so many schools cutting funding for art and music. Those last few children who don't fit the system can lose one last potential place to feel like a success. The children who do fit the system are losing an experience where they can let go of boundaries.
The above also relates to us as adults. It's not just about the creation, but also about admiration. Every time you frame a piece and hang it on your wall, it gives new life to your space. Every time you set a sculpture on a table you enhance your environment. You can place art everywhere and admire it at any time. For some of us it's an escape, a reminder of what helps us move forward or keep a piece of the past. And it gets deeper...
The reasons we admire a creation can change over time as we continue to examine it. Lines and shapes we never realized existed within a pice can reveal themselves as time goes on. This is one reason close-up, abstract style art is one of my favorite ways to shoot. There is an endless list of ways to interpret and become familiar with an abstract image. An onlooker can become lost in a piece of art for some time and that's an emotional and intelligent experience.
As I've said before, art is everywhere. I don't just mean man-made art. When looking at the next round of images, try not focusing on the way I shot them. Focus on what's in them. Look at the art that was created before I documented it. The canvases are skies, rock, water and other natural resources. The carvings and brush strokes, laid by natural forces over a time frame we rarely understand. The movement seems more carefully planned and more time consuming than anything I've seen a person create.
The above was taken on the side of the road, somewhere in Colorado, exact place unknown.
The above? Just a rock with some moss on it, but look at the intricacy.
Check out the patterns and lines all over the above rock formation.
The next time you look at a piece that was created by art, natural or man-made, remove the abstract walls that stand between what the creator did and things you do in your own life. As you stare at a sculpture, listen to a song or browse my galleries (shameless plug), compare it to your own creations, your own daily interactions with the worlds around you and inside you. Think about one of the most helpful set of words you ever gave to someone. Revisit a moment you helped influence a decision. Remember the last time you got creative with humor and made someone laugh. Congratulations, you’re an artist!
More examples of natural and man-made art: