Is an artist born and not made?
I have always denied the “he was just born with it” statement in the past. After all my years of training in drawing and painting, I have always felt that being an artist has very little to do with what I was born with, and everything to do with hard work.
Well…maybe I’ve been a little closed minded.
Like many of us, I received no formal training in the arts as a small child, yet I can remember specific atmospheres that effect my creativity today. I remember the joy radiating from the colors of the holiday season. I remember a similar delight from viewing my favorite Saturday morning cartoons. There was also the stimulating scenery that came with the long road trips to my uncle’s house. Those drives always revealed an ever changing landscape to serve as a backdrop to the character story in my head. Often, these characters were the spooky statues from our church battling my favorite comic book heroes.
But I wanted to get better at depicting these things, so I went to school. And then more school. And then even more school.
Of course, over the years life has revealed darker subjects for me to dwell on, but the same philosophy remains. Recently, exploitation of the weak in society has been my focus. I'm angry at the fast food industry, so I create. I'm angry at the media, so I create. I'm angry at the oil companies, so I create.
But anger, like joy, can be very useful in art.
I might forget the plot of a good movie, but I never forget the film's mood. When creating, I like to start with one of these moods. This is the most important part of my process. The trick is to transfer that emotion into a work of art. These days it is done by researching certain subjects. It is done by drawing with graphite and ink. It is done by painting in acrylics. It is done with digital programs. It is done with an installation.
However, I remember that Crayola Crayons did the job just fine decades ago.
But what about the countless hours a “real artist” puts into refining their craft? By saying that one needs only to observe and feel from life to be an artist is silly. That would mean we can all be artists.