I am a writer and I make wood and metal sculptures. I guess that makes me an artist. Am I a great artist? Do I produce great art? I don’t know. Some days I think my art is good, really good. Some days not so much.
I was just thinking recently about what makes art or an artist great. I came up with more questions than answers. These musings may seem a little weird but there is a message I want to try and convey.
If I produce a piece of art and I happen to think it is great. Is it? Is it enough for me to consider it great art in order for it to be great art? Must someone else, besides me, also think it great?
What if two people look at my art or read something I wrote and one thinks it great and the other thinks it awful. Which is it then, great or awful?
If a congregation of individuals consider my art and a preponderance of the people think my art is great, does that make it so, even if but just a few think it is garbage? Are their opinions made null and void by the majority? What if the majority is wrong? How would we know? Who is to say?
If my art is hated by a group of people and all that unites them is their unrelenting and complete hatred of my art, did my art then serve no useful purpose? Does art have to be great in order to serve its purpose?
What makes great art great? I think we can agree that great art makes the artist great. But, here is the most fundamental question of all. Which comes first? Does the artist become great first then goes on to produce great art? Or, does the artist produce what is regarded by the masses to be great art which makes him great in return?
I believe I know. It may seem like a circular argument but I believe great art is made great by, and because of, the artist. It is the artists expression of their truest self.
We know some work of art is great because it moves us, up or down, and causes us to pause and be changed by it. We connect with it because some other lonely, happy, sad, frustrated, anxious, imperfect, glorious, offensive, flawed, hopeful human being has splattered their heart and soul onto a canvas, a piece of metal, or the pages of a book. We laugh or cry with them and celebrate their art with them because we are compelled to do so by what they have created.
The great artists would create great art even if it were placed in the woods and no one were around to see it because they must.
Whether they realize it or not, the great artists have discovered the key to creating great art requires only one thing, a singularity of purpose – passion!
Great art is an artist’s passion on display.
I’m still trying to get there. How about you? Are you feeling the passion for your art?