What is art?

No I don’t really mean to presume to answer that old chestnut!

What I mean here really is what does art mean to me – I think that is a fair enough question. The reason for thinking this through is not because I have the answer but so I can think about what I need to learn and how to go about it. You may agree with some of this or completely disagree – it would be great to hear your thoughts either way. I am going to keep updating and iterating this page so please do comment.

What is art?

For me art is any activity that requires technical skill to execute and is designed to evoke an emotional response.
I am of course being deliberately broad so that it encompasses a broad range of art forms. I think I am being more restricted than others though in two regards. Firstly requiring technical skill. I have seen some argue that calling something art makes it so – I draw the line there though I think it has to have more merit than that.  Secondly requiring an intent to evoke an emotional response – an image that is just an image designed to capture information is not art.

How to plan a new piece. Think about…

  • Concept and style
    • What is the purpose/message/concept/idea/story
    • Mood and emotion: What emotion are you trying to evoke to deliver the concept
    • Abstract or figurative
    • Combination: what ideas are being combined for a novel result?
  • Composition
    • Conceptual composition: how do the ideas fit together
    • Object composition, format, landscape, portrait, perspective, fore, middle back ground
    • Value composition, abstract shapes, zone
    • Colour theory composition
    • flow into, out of and around the picture
    • Light direction, quality, hue, dawn, dusk etc
  • Techniques and media
    • Support: paper, board, found media
    • Size
    • Technique: what medium, marks, line or the, tools, and techniques will you use to evoke the emotion to deliver the concept
  • Stealing with pride. Who are the influences – who to copy – who to mimic?
  • Balance: will it all hang together, big picture, small detail
  • What can I remove?
  • Use Socratic method to challenge your thinking: why, why, why…
Critical appraisal of a work in progress or finished piece. Questions to ask…
  • Is it balanced?
  • Is it technically proficient?
  • Does it evoke the emotion?
  • Does it convey the concept?
  • Will others like it?