I recently completed a simple written “interview” about making art, and my view of myself as an artist. Answering the questions forced me into thinking about making art in a serious way. The questions are nothing very unusual; indeed these are questions I have answered in the past. But I change, and my answers change over the years. I think about making art differently.
Early on in my focus on making, I was impatient with the questions; I had very little energy or understanding of my own motives. This made answering these questions difficult, and I had other priorities. I struggled to see myself as an artist at all. Eventually I made the effort to pursue my work seriously. The conviction that I am an artist came with time and a body of work. When you make art regularly, you are an artist, by definition.
Now is seems easy to answer the questions, and I go deeper with my replies each time I consider them. This time I found value in them, and took some time to respond. I know I could answer these questions at greater length and depth tomorrow. Indeed I find that I am already doing this!
I am told that this interview will be “published” on a newly updated website focused on art, but not immediately. So I won’t hold my breath for this to happen. Also I don’t much expect this site to get many viewers. I don’t really understand the plan. But it was an excellent exercise for me, and I quite enjoyed it. I plan to self-publish some of the questions and answers, starting today. So here is the first question, with an expanded answer.
Question 1: Why did you become an artist?
I have always had the urge to draw and to create. I enjoyed my parents’ books on art and architecture; all three children were expected to know something about art and art history. My grandfather was a painter and art teacher, and although he died before I was born, exposure to his work, and the family interest in art undoubtedly influenced me. However for much of my life I perceived my own creative interests as so different from his work as a painter that I could not consider myself an artist. It was not until I retired early from a career in computing that I found the time and the conviction to pursue art work seriously.
I feel that anyone who makes art is an artist, so that makes me rephrase the question. It becomes a bit different: why do I make art? Because I really want to express myself visually, I think. After some effort and time, this has actually become necessary to my satisfaction in life. I become restless and unhappy when I don’t express myself by making things.
And mostly I do say that I make things! Some of these things fit my definition of art. At other times my work may be merely decorative, functional, and/or entertaining. I don’t try to think too hard about what is art, or what is no. My work is mixed media work: I am not a painter, a sculptor, or a print maker; rather I use all three processes, and more, in making my art. I also use my computer background, my limited construction skills, and so many other things to create my finished pieces. I would love to make larger more ambitious work, but I am constrained to small artwork by my age, space, and abilities.
Sometimes it good to take a little time off, and step away from making art. For the past few days I have certainly been thinking about making art, and I will be making more “art” soon enough!