This 20- minute lecture by Dr. Gil Dekel is worth a listen. The feeling at the end is, “How awesome creativity is!” What is the artist really saying in each and every painting? Dr. Gekel tells us.
“ I gave them paint. All it takes. These politicians make things too complicated.”
Put a group of people into a room full of art supplies and watch what happens. People find ways to create things. They experiment with materials, forms, and limitations. They solve problems. They begin to talk to each other in different ways. They even bond. And, generally, they have fun.
Bob Bates is the founder of Inner City Arts, an organization to provide art -making projects to urban youth. Bates, in an interview with It Magazine believes the process of creating art leads to better self- confidence. Bates states, “Making art requires thinking and decisions: what color will I use, how can I make this stand up, how can I make this stronger, quieter, brighter, more bendable.” The self -confidence comes as they see the evidence of how they solved the problems in making their individual art.
A research study by Julia Kellman of the University of Illinois, Urbana, found that people facing life -threatening illness were able to begin opening up and talking about their illness as they participated in art making projects together. The group bonded in the process of making art, leading to a greater feeling of safety to expose personal feelings and talk about what they were experiencing.
Lisa Phillips, writes in The Artistic Edge, “Artists are constantly pushed to explore unchartered territory. The truly great ones are those that produce new and exciting work that has never before been created.” Artists are always, by their very nature, pushing for improvement, to do something better than the last creation. Each piece is a learning experience that leads to the next one. Creativity begets more creativity.
As artists know, art making brings about creativity, problem-solving and bonding. It could be a very child-like, simplistic answer for much bigger problems. Picasso is frequently quoted as having said, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain one when we grow up.” Wouldn’t it be a hoot if all politicians were required to go into a room full of art supplies with orders to make art? What a lot of problems would then be solved! However, as the old saying goes, “If wishes were horses .….”
Kellman, J (2005). HIV, art and a journey toward healing, one man’s story. Journal of Aesthetic Education. 39(3), Fall 2005
“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” Louisa May Alcott (from The Painter’s Keys).
Artists can be hit hard in times of austerity but is it necessarily all bad? Can tough times be also, times of heightened creativity? Artists can look upon tough times as an opportunity to do new and exciting things. Break new ground. Do something not done before. Find new tools to navigate the storm.
Seeking creative ways to sell art is one method of fighting the waves. The author of Artbusiness.com states, “rather than seeing tough times as obstacles to their career success, see them as opportunities to tap into your creative strengths and reserves.” How an artist does that is as unique as the artist him/herself. Possible methods include dropping prices, changing selling venue, seeking new non-traditional methods of selling and horror of horrors, changing artistic style. It depends on what works for you and where your market is. Experiment and get creative.
The BBC News Magazine asks the question, “Do hard times equal good art?” The writer gives argument to both sides of the question. Many well known artists have lived hard lives with tough times. Others lived in the lap of luxury. Some artists, myself included, create better under pressure. Again, the answer, most likely, lies within the individual artist. With examples of both types throughout history, does it really matter? Good times or bad, the point is to carry on.
Some artists deal with the storms of tough times by turning them into their work. Looking at the incredible energy of Joseph M. W. Turner’s ships in stormy waters, it appears the painter knows a thing or two about storms. Though Turner achieved success with his painting, his personal life was not without turbulence mainly during his childhood, (read more here). Perhaps his storm painting was, at least partially a metaphor for his own personal storms.
To get through stormy weather, it seems the best action is to seek navigational tools by digging ever deeper into creativity. And after the storm, smooth sailing ahead!