I stopped to think about the definition of "art" today. First I wondered why I drew a blank when I asked myself, "What is art?" I suspect it's because definitions are based on words, and words fall into the domain of the left brain – the part of the brain that adores labeling, categorizing, tucking everything into neat little categories. The side of the brain that adores definitions over ambiguity and prefers order over chaos. Did you know that when you are in the midst of creative activity, when you "lose yourself" to the flow of the creative process, the left side of your brain essentially falls sleep?
Making art is a right-brain activity. Doodling, painting, sketching, sculpting and all other creative pursuits activate the right side of the brain, the side that expresses itself beyond the confines and rules of verbal language. That side of the brain doesn't give a hoot what the 'definition' of art is – as long as it gets to make art, it's happy.
Still, I thought the question of "What is art?" was still worth pursuing.
According to Wikipedia,
"Art is the product or process of deliberately arranging items (often with symbolic significance) in a way that influences and affects one or more of the senses, emotions, and intellect."
A few keywords stick out to me: product or process, deliberate arrangement, symbolic, influences and affects.
So "what is art", to me? An important unspoken component in this question is why do we create art? What is that mysterious force that compels certain people to pick up a paintbrush or mold clay or transform ordinary objects into creations of beauty?
I'm sure we all have our own individual reasons which are probably as unique as the art we make. Here's what I've come up with to explain what art is and why I do it:
Art is a language of visual communication. Art is all about showing, rather than telling. This allows you the freedom to absorb the images in your own way - letting the images seep into your mind, stir up memories, spark new ideas, and inspire your dreams.
Art is a journey. Art can take us to places beyond our wildest imaginations. Art is the stuff in our wildest imaginations. Through art we can show each other our inner worlds and outer worlds - all stemming from our own unique points of view.
Art can reveal hidden truths, and present known truths in a new light. Through art, we can explore the universe in a new way, approach life from a different angle, and spend time seeing everything from someone else's perspective.
Immersion in art enriches our lives on many levels. Through viewing or creating art, you can rejuvenate your creative spirit, reignite your imagination, and nurture your curiosity. When you make art, or appreciate art, you experience for yourself how the creative process can improve the quality of your life and the lives of others.
So what do you think? What is art to you? Why do you create art? What makes you pick up a pencil and draw a line that turns into a series of lines that turns into a drawing? Please share your thoughts here. The ideas that we share can help inspire and encourage one another.