I was talking about card-making recently and someone asked me if I was an artist because they knew someone who made beautiful watercolor cards. I quickly said “no, I’m not an artist” and then paused, and said “well, maybe”, and then finished lamely, just to explain the cards, “I make cute cards with paper cutouts and stamps from kits and such”.
When did I stop thinking of myself as an artist?
My best definition of artist is “a person who makes art”. So maybe I stopped being an artist when I stopped making art. I make time for crafts, and sometimes artistic crafts. I am creative, I create things. I don’t make most things from a kit, though I do like kits for notching quick handmade projects. Do I make time for “art”? I really don’t. I still have ideas, but I don’t take the time to practice creating.
Art is that it’s a skill that gets rusty. Not just the fine motor control, but the mental muscle that allows you to feel natural playing with your chosen media to get visual ideas out there. Just knowing what makes good composition isn’t enough, practicing creating compositions is necessary to create good compositions. Getting your hand to do what your mind’s eye envisions takes practice, practice, practice.
I’ve had lots of big ideas in the past few years, but I can’t execute because I’ve let the skills grow rusty. My kiddo is big enough now that I can squeeze in 10 or 15 min of practice in a day while he plays, after work, before I’m completely wiped out and just want to sit on the couch.
I hereby challenge myself to an any-art-a-day. I’m a mixed media person, so anything can count as practice, as long as I’m creating/sketching/doodling/photographing something that does not lead to a gift, memory-keeping, or other practical “craft” item. We’ll see how this goes! I’ve also challenged myself to a 10 min yoga per day routine. Time to get that back on track too.
What is your definition of art? What is your definition of craft? Have you tried both? Has life or an internal pendulum swung you one way or another?
To check out some of my related unravellings on the definition of art, I posted some thoughts in March of 2014.