Is it art?

Okay, this is me deciding that what I produce is art. I must respect myself and my work enough to label it as art, even if I don’t think it’s that good. (Some of it is good, but some of it is definitely NOT.)

Why do I think that? Well, at first I was thinking, no, I’m not an artist. I am a person with creative talents. But I do work on these skills steadily and persistently, if not as a career, so I am by definition an artist. (A part-time artist!) As one who believes that I should value and develop all the talents that God gives me, I am trying to work on these skills a little at a time. It’s not always easy, when I like so many different fiber arts! But oftentimes there are relationships among them, such as the fact that cross-stitch is a form of embroidery, and embroidery is used on crazy quilt blocks, and I’d like to learn more of embroidery, so I use them in those contexts, not as separated skills. I’d also like to put some embroidery on the curtains that I sewed and some of the clothes, etc. that I’m working on.

Interestingly, in connection with the post that Veridian Eyes had written, I realized that I had unthinkingly subscribed to the high art/low art dichotomy during my school years, but that over time my thoughts had undergone a major shift. Partly this was because I was now producing things, and in other areas (woodwork and pottery, for example) buying things. I had begun to appreciate the level of skill and artistry that goes into all these handmade items. And also understand how much they are really worth, in the sense of time spent making them.

And once I began to comprehend that, I realized that the decorative arts, the ones that we live with daily, are actually more important than the paintings of “high art”. At least they are to me! I see my sewing every day. I see paintings — rarely. I think that I went to the museum once this year. Not many people I know have real paintings in their houses, although some do. Sculpture is even more rare. But the dress I made is in my closet and I see it every day, even when I don’t wear it. My lace shawl lies on the chair near the door, and I consider every day whether or not it will be appropriate to wear with that day’s clothes. I like having useful items that are also beautiful. (It’s even affected my regular shopping. I hate having to buy plastic things that are functional, but oh-so-not-beautiful. In fact, I’ll put off getting whatever it is until I can get something that also looks good and is well-made, because why waste my time with ugly junk?)

With that realization, I now understand that visual journals are more important than I had realized. Up until now, I had kept all my ideas for future projects and artistic musings confined to text, a list of ideas that served me fairly well. The list captured the idea until I was ready to actually do it. But now I think that I need something more illustrated than that.

Now, I can’t really draw, in the sense of accurately reproducing something. I’m not that kind of artist! But I can do a rough shape and describe what I have in mind, plus include fabrics and colors that give me ideas. I don’t think that I will go all out with paint and other elaborations of a visual journal. To me, that makes it too much like work and not a place to store ideas and work out projects.

I’m not even going to feel obligated to do it every day. More when I have a thought that won’t go away or an elaboration that needs to be recorded before I lose the thought. It’ll work in conjunction with my past work record, so that I’ll know what I’ve done and how it connects to what I’m thinking of next.

I must say, I’m glad I discovered blogs so many months ago — they have really stimulated me to work hard on these things, and what’s more important, think hard.

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2 Comments

  1. Elizabeth said,

    December 17, 2006 at 3:45 pm

    Really like your thoughts on a visual journel. I’ve been thinking along these lines, too. Thanks for this post and some of the others I read about your reflections on SharonB’s comments on nourishing creativity.

  2. Leigh said,

    December 22, 2006 at 8:10 pm

    Wow, can I ever relate to this. From the struggle to what is “art” (though my terms have been “artist” and “craftsman” or “craftsperson” or whatever toots your horn.) Recently I’ve been meditating on the “art and science” of my various fiber pursuits. I’ve been following Sharon B’s posts about visual journals too, but like you, think to some extent lists work fine because the visual part would be a lot of work. I don’t have enough time as it is for weaving, spinning, knitting, etc. I’ll be interested in what you do in regards to this.


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