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Deep Questions

by Keith Bond on 10/18/2010 10:38:02 AM

This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

 

From time to time I think it is a good thing to ponder about what art means to you.  Below is a list of deep questions you may wish to ask yourself.  I ask myself these things often.  They are things you can think about while you mix color or chip away at stone.  The list is in no particular order.  There is no right or wrong answer.  And you won’t be graded.

 

  • What is art?
  • Does art have a purpose? 
  • Should art be used to influence political, religious, social, environmental views, etc.? 
  • Should art be used to express beauty and the ugly and painful side of life?
  • Does your art contribute to society?  Should it?
  • Richard Schmid once posed the question: “Is our function simply to achieve excellence, the way nature does – without the need for justification or explanation?”
  • Why do you create art? Is it for money? Is it for fame?  Is it to fulfill that inner calling?  Is it to change the world?
  • Why don’t you create?  Is it for money? Fear? Time?
  • If you had all the time in the world and unlimited financial means – would you create the same art you create today?  Or would you create something different?
  • Are you afraid of certain subjects, styles, media?
  • What does it mean to create art for art’s sake?
  • What does success mean to you?
  • What are you willing to do (or not do) to become an artist?
  • Were you born an artist or made an artist?
  • Do you think you are a “real” artist? 
  • What is a “real” artist?
  • What prompted you to take up art in the first place?
  • Do you think you see the world differently than non-artists?
  • Do you intend for others to “see” and “feel” what you “see” and “feel” in your art?  In other words, do you want others to get what you are saying with your art?
  • Do you have anything to say with your art?
  • Do you feel the need to shout?
  • Are you being true to yourself with your art?
  • Are you following the crowd or the money?
  • Is being an artist a stewardship?  Are you the caretaker of what you know or do you own it?  Should you share your knowledge or hoard it?
  • Do you have a responsibility to share your art with the world?
  • Or is your art for your eyes only?
  • Will the world miss not having your art?
  • Will your art make the world a better place?
  • Are your artistic abilities a gift?  Or something you earned?
  • Do you think your ideas are valid?
  • Is the end result more important than the process?  Or the process?  Or are they equal?
  • Is art a means of reflection? 
  • Is art a means of exploration?
  • Is art a means of communication?
  • Is art a means of veneration?
  • Do you create to understand or do you express what you have already learned?  Or is it some combination of both?
  • What does it mean to be original or unique (referring to art)? 
  • Are you better today than when you first started?
  • Do you use your talent wisely?

 

In addition to being soul searching questions that will enlighten you and hopefully your art as well, these questions can also provide a springboard for blog topics.  Ponder these things from time to time.  And write down your philosophies about art.  Revisit the same questions occasionally.  You may find your views evolving along with your art.

 

Have fun and enjoy art.

 

Best Wishes,

Keith Bond

 

PS.  There are many more deep questions we could ponder.  What are some of yours?



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Topics: FineArtViews | inspiration 

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 33 Comments

Stede Barber
via canvoo.com
Keith, this is terrific. You asked some questions I haven't really considered, as well as some that are key to me. The more I paint, the more I love art, and questions like this help me to perceive why. Well done!

mimi torchia boothby watercolors
via canvoo.com
I had to laugh when I saw your list. Many of your "deep questions" are thoughts that trouble and undermine me much of the time. For me at least dwelling on them is not productive.
some of the biggies:
# Do you think you are a “real”¯ artist?
# What is a “real”¯ artist?
# Do you have anything to say with your art?
# Are you being true to yourself with your art?

some of us are already too introspective and self doubting. For us, it is better not to think about this stuff.

Good post!

some of these I just have to walk away from..


kohlene hendrickson
via canvoo.com
Great questions Keith. My questions are deep but your list is longer! EXCELLENT PONDERING.

Sandy Askey-Adams
via canvoo.com
Hello Keith...
Thank you!
This is really a great article. Sure gets one thinking and thinking as a way of reminding an artist to ask some important questions. ..and to keep asking till they have the answer for themself..and what makes them 'tick' as an artist.
It is the type of thing that would be perfect hanging up on the wall of an art studio so it could be read and re-read.
It would help an artist move toward the right direction and follow their goals.

:)Sandy


Helen Horn Musser
via canvoo.com
Hi Keith, Thanks for the penetrating questions you've compiled. I'm not sure I can find answers for all of these for myself but, to reflect on them from time to time should definitely help me in the process of painting. What does art mean to me? That is the question we all need to find an answer to. It to me, at this time, is sharing and expressing ideas and thoughts close to my heart. To paint the beauty of creation is also there. I would like everyone to tell what art means to them; would love to know

moira elliott
via canvoo.com
Thank you, Keith, for this article. It was refreshing to open my Email this morning and read your fundamental questions (I should say essential questions for an artist.) Yes, we need to reflect on this subject more frequently than I believe many of us do - well, I can certainly speak for myself. There is always such a conflict between the need to market - to assert yourself and forward your work and the personal sense of artistry that defines you. So much of the effort needed to market oneself effectively is not natural to the artist that you know yourself to be. I have always, as long as I can remember, defined myself as an artist first and foremost, even though I have taught art for much of the time throughout my career - but one's "soul" can be lost in the quest for recognition. Presenting oneself positively as a driving force is simply a persona for many of us. Sometimes I worry that this persona is dominating the searching,questioning artist that is truly me.
Moira Elliott moiraelliott.com

Tom Weinkle
via canvoo.com
Great list. Good way to keep our minds working on the things taht are important.

Fred Bell
via canvoo.com
As my skills develop the work becomes more personal. I am concerned less with representation now and there are a lot of emotional statements I can make and no one else knows what they are. They are my secrets.

Crystal Rassi
via canvoo.com
Keith, I must say, you're articles always making me ponder....I think the truth about what we think about most of these questions comes out when we teach. I think a fundamental factor why we teach is because we've answered "yes" to many of your questions about art like "Will your art make the world a better place?" , "Is art a means of communication?" or "Is art a means of exploration?". Then we begin to truly know who we are and what art means to us through teaching others.

This particular question really struck me though: "If you had all the time in the world and unlimited financial means - would you create the same art you create today? Or would you create something different?"

The answer I have is...no. If the question were rephrased like this...."If there were no expectations to produce the same style for collectors and galleries, would you still paint the same way?", then I may have said, I would not limit my color palette to reflect to the same style, or maintain the same subjects. Perhaps I'd explore a lot more if I wasn't under pressure to produce for galleries and collectors. Sometimes I'd like to show all of me through painting - not just some of me.

Richard Christian Nelson
via canvoo.com
Wow! That is a lot to ponder! Looking back it seems that the a lot of the energy to carry on comes from motivations that (for better or worse) are deep and often un-analyzed. It is a gut reaction that has had me creating.

George De Chiara
via canvoo.com
Thanks Keith for such a great list of things to ponder. I'm also glad to hear that I'm not the only one who thinks of these things while painting. The one I almost always go back to is "What does success mean to you?" I have to say for me, it's a moving target. What I had thought a few years ago is not anywhere close to the answer I have for this one today. I do think I have a clear vision of what I think success is to me now.

Carol Schmauder
via canvoo.com
Great questions, Keith, that all of us should consider.

Esther J. Williams
via canvoo.com
Keith, this is definitely a great list of questions to ponder over. You were brainstorming for certain! I will write these down in my journal and answer them in a paragraph for each question.
I was asking myself who I was an an artist this morning after being an ambassador at an art museum this past weekend. I was in the midst of 50 top plein air artists and their works all weekend. The variety of art styles within the plein air style was mind boggling. Then I read a Southwest Art magazine this morning and viewed all the art in there and read articles. I find myself wondering where I fit in the artworld after influential events like these and then I branch out into more deep questions. It is good to reflect upon oneself and our position in expertise, our talent, our experiences, our community standing, all as an artist.
As I see another year about to close, I like to look back and analyze just what I learned and how I stepped up a few more rungs on the staircase to my goal as an artist. Our conscious understanding of our uniqueness in relation to these questions you ask along with our own wonderment are important to growth. There is not one single path or answer to your questions.
Evolving from a core, the LOVE OF ART, is a great journey that lasts a whole colorful and joyous lifetime to me.

Sharon Weaver
via canvoo.com
The Richard Schmid question: “Is our function simply to achieve excellence, the way nature does ”“ without the need for justification or explanation?”¯ has been on my mind a lot lately. For me this statement puts everything else into perspective. Success, sales, the meaning of my work are all the byproduct of how well I attain excellence so excellence is my ultimate goal.

Karen Blackwood
via canvoo.com
Thanks Keith, These questions are perfect to pontificate on for a great Blog! I could also see pondering these with a glass of wine and a good group of artists!

Sue Martin
via canvoo.com
I often ponder many of these questions and, as you suggest, I do find my answers evolving. I'm going to make a copy to hang in my art room and by my computer. They call for further reflection. Thanks, Keith!

Donna Robillard
via canvoo.com
These are great questions to reflect on. Plus, they make good blog and journal entries. Thanks for sharing them.

Sandy Askey-Adams
via canvoo.com
Karen......
Yes!! A glass of good wine and a group of artists would make for a great discussion group on this topic. Hmmm, good idea.

We have all already thought of how good it would be for on a blog, to share with an art class or for journaling. But for a discussion group ... I like that. Thanks for the suggestion Karen.

Thank you again Keith.

:)Sandy

Joanne Benson
via canvoo.com
Hi Keith, I haven't read all of the responses to this post so I appologize to all if this is redundant. I think the first question - "What is Art?" - encompases all of the other questions. As your questions would suggest, art means different things to different people which is why question #1 is so difficult to answer. Lots of food for thought here! But.....I'd rather paint than think! LOL

Kim
via canvoo.com
These are some very tough questions, but I think they are extremely important! Great post!

"Richard Schmid once posed the question: “Is our function simply to achieve excellence, the way nature does ”“ without the need for justification or explanation?”¯ "

I'm not sure I agree with the premise that nature's function is to achieve excellence. I think nature's function is to carry on. Its solutions are not always excellent, in fact, some solutions and/or outcomes are quite imperfect, but if it means continuance of a species or a process then it works. Art is a very different thing from nature, as it is a deliberate product of the human mind.



Carol McIntyre
via canvoo.com
How refreshing! Thinking is such an important part of the artistic process. I was just going to suggest the same idea when I read Karen's post about a group of artists getting together with wine to discuss these questions. I yearn for the opportunity to talk about these topics with others and find it frustrating that few artists will participate. Thank you!

Sue Martin
via canvoo.com
Carol, that's one of the things I love about being back in college...my professors are as much philosophers as artists and the discussions we get into as we're painting or critiquing are deeply thought provoking.

Carol McIntyre
via canvoo.com
Sue, 20 years ago when I was 36 and getting back into art, this was one of the reasons I highly considered going to art school, but I did not. Glad you are enjoying being in school.

I find it interesting that many artists say they use art to communicate and to express themselves, yet they seem afraid (or something) to spend time with their art to learn more about themselves. It is intimidating and takes times but well worth it.

John Smith
via canvoo.com
On the very first page of Robert Henri's, book "The Art Spirit" many of these questions are answered by the great teacher and painter. They are to me at any rate.

Sandy Askey-Adams
via canvoo.com
"The Art Spirit," by Robert Henri, A great book John. Thanks for the reminder. :)
I would think (hope) every artist has that book in their art library. It is a book that an artist cannot do without.

:)

Tom Weinkle
via canvoo.com
John, does he offer a workshop? (hah)

best wishes

tom

Sandy Askey-Adams
via canvoo.com
Very funny Tom...good one. LOL

John Smith
via canvoo.com
Perhaps in the 'Studio in the Sky' ... were you considering attending Tom?

Tom weinkle
via canvoo.com
Yes, but hopefully not for a few years yet.

Funny.

Thx

Tom

John Smith
via canvoo.com
Glad to hear that Tom .
No matter how appealing, that is one to be put off as long as possible :}

Sue Martin
via canvoo.com
Carol, I think many people underestimate the value of trying to understand and articulate their feelings and responses to the world around them. By trying to understand/articulate (even to ourselves), we can choose to respond differently rather than simply operating on auto-pilot. Self-discovery opens up many new possibilities, including the ways we enjoy making art.

Carol McIntyre
via canvoo.com
Sue, well stated. Auto-pilot is easier and another form of denial. I have been on a self-discovery journey all my life and have periodically wondered where that came from or how it has become so ingrained in me.

John Smith
via canvoo.com
I too like what Sue Martin says










 

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