Art completes what nature cannot bring to finish ~ Aristotle

I knew I had to use an Aristotle quote, or else I would’ve failed the entire classical community. 😉

Art. Poetry. Storytelling. Music. Creativity. Color. All of these concepts have been swirling around in my head for a couple days. I’ve been trying to figure out what exactly it means to be an ‘artsy’ person. How much of the ‘artsy’ stuff do you have to love to be considered an ‘artsy’ person? Do you just really have to disdain math? *coughcough* And how good do you have to be at said ‘artsy’ stuff before people will consider you an ‘artsy’ person? Is storytelling art, or just an art? And of course, last, but not least, am I an artsy person?  

All of these thoughts eventually came to fruition (aka, ended up on the blog) after I finished watching something on the news. Apparently there’s a whole division of the FBI devoted to Art Crime. Their job is to hunt and arrest people who steal, well, art. According to FOX, over $6,000,000,000 worth of art is stolen EVERY YEAR!

Something I cannot understand is why a canvas with various paint strewn across it can cost so much more than the cost of the canvas and the bottles of paint. And what is the big fuss about Picasso? His stuff was kinda creepy…

I guess I can’t answer the above questions until I answer one question. What is art? I’m not sure about Aristotle’s answer. When people see the word ‘art’, they think paintings. They think DaVinci. They think Van Gogh. They think Michangelo. But is painting and sculpture all that art is? Doesn’t art encompass a lot of different things? If it does, what is the common denominator between them?

A wise man once told me that poetry is ‘a glimpse’ or a ‘snapshot’ of a thought or idea. So I guess I can work with that definition for now.  If you think about it, that’s exactly what poetry is. A glimpse of something that’s on the poet’s heart. With poetry, you get a 30 second peek into another realm. For 30 seconds, you’re whisked away to this world, thinking about this new idea that you never would’ve thought before. And you can see the glimpse trickle away as you near the end of the page.  Words have an intoxicating strength. Reading poetry can change you in ways that hours of debating, and sometimes screaming, could never do. And because of it’s brevity, it’s sweetness is slow to fade as compared to a longer glimpse, or story. 😉

I like to think that poetry is a type of art. So then, art could have something to do with a glimpse. So… if poetry is a glimpse, then what is music?

I like to think that music is a glimpse too. It might be a slightly longer glimpse, depending on how fast you read poetry, but it is a glimpse. For 3 minutes instead of 30 seconds, another story is told to you. And the amazing beautiful paradox of it all is that music is universal. No matter what country you’re from, what color your skin is, or what language you speak, music can still speak to you. And what’s even more amazing about that is not only can it speak to you, it speaks to you in a way that is unique only to you. No one can listen to music and appreciate it the exact same way you do.

So then, if poetry is a glimpse, and music is a glimpse, could that mean they’re both the same thing? I don’t think so, but I believe they’re part of the same thing. The same family. For me, some pieces of music, piano especially, are like poetry to the part of the heart that doesn’t speak with words. “Music is well said to be the speech of angels.” -Thomas Carlyle.

To me, music is poetry with notes. 😀

Now, I know there is some really bad music out there. And there’s also some rather scary poetry out there too. But regardless of how mediocre we might think it is, it’s still an expression of something, right?  You don’t condemn the entirety of the canine race just because a single dog bit your hand, right? So that means, we shouldn’t yell and scream and throw hissy fits when someone doesn’t agree with our taste in music. Even if they like screamo…. *shudders*

You might be thinking, “Well, if you love poetry and music so much, then why do you not like painting?” And my answer is this: I’m not an artist. I cannot paint or draw to save my life. Thus I don’t appreciate it as much as music, seeing as I am a musician. Or am aspiring to be a musician eventually. 😉

I think another reason I don’t appreciate it as much is because painting can be too abstract. I know artists pour their heart and soul into painting. And the unfortunate truth is, no matter how long you stare at a painting, no matter how long you take in all the color and vibrancy,(or lack thereof) you’ll only see but a drop of the artist’s soul. You can’t grasp what the exact thoughts of the artist are. What exactly the artist is trying to tell you. The human brain doesn’t work that way. We can’t comprehend thoughts and concepts and ideas without words formed in a linear sequence. Even now, you can’t understand what I’m trying to say in this post without words. You think if I posted some pretty picture, you’ll understand everything this 13oo word post is trying to convey? With poetry, you can see the poet’s soul. You might not be able to see every single drop of emotion that went into the poem, but you can see a lot of it. I do realize that this concept is not the same with music. But in a way, it is. Just a little. You can hear very stacatto notes in the minor key, and you can feel in your soul that you should be afraid. And you can hear soothing arpeggios crawling up a piano and know you should relax. I don’t know about you, but I would have to stare at a pastel blue for hours on end before I felt that same kind of relaxation. But that’s just me.

Now, I do NOT mean to convey that I don’t like paintings. I do. I wish I understood them better. I wish I could draw and paint as well as some of my friends. And I live an hour away from the art capital of the world, for gosh sake! What I do mean to say is that even though a painting can be incredibly amazing, I don’t understand why you have to pay a bloody fortune for something that doesn’t speak to your soul as well as other things can. Other things you don’t have to pay so much money for. 😉

That brings me to storytelling. If music and poetry are art, and art is a glimpse, then if storytelling is NOT a glimpse, does that mean it’s not art? For me, it depends on the story. A novel, for example, to me, is not a glimpse. A glimpse is like what I said earlier: it’s like a snapshot. Coming from a writer, I know that a novel is not a snapshot. It’s a whole complex world with different factors that mold and change it. You have to get into the story and stay there for awhile to understand it. That’s not the case with poetry or music. But you can have short stories that give you small peek into another world. Does that mean that short stories are art and not novels?

If you feel differently about painting, if you feel that paintings DO speak to the soul as well as music and poetry does, or if you think novels and storytelling ARE an art, then please speak up!! Help me revive a dying blog. 😉 

Sigh. Now that I have such a long rant out of my system, I can go to sleep now.





6 responses

  1. demurepomegranate

    Agh. You have tackled a subject most people wouldn’t dare to for it’s complexity and ambiguity yet do anyway because they think they can tackle it.

    You, however, have shed light into the subject. It hardly resolves the subject, though you have made many valid points.

    Is Art defined by what we create, why we create it, or how it’s created? What about when and where? If it’s defined by any one of the above presets, we get too broad and end up with something that … well, may not be art.

    I’m going to use two examples.
    If we narrow art down to what we create as art, does that mean that ANYTHING can be considered art? Of course, that means that things we create as art are still art, but things that might not be could end up as art to.
    And if we narrow art down to where it is created, does taht mean that only things in, for example, Athens, Greece, can be considered art?

    When you pause to look at it, art is really a complex formula, an equation which involves everything discussed.
    What it is + why it’s created + how it’s done + when was it done + where was it created somehow equals art.
    When you really think about it, the earth is art. EVERYTHING created by God is art. It is beautiful and good. What humans create pales in comparison.

    But, you know, I don’t think anyone will ever be sure exactly what art is. Even the handy-dandy dictionary hasn’t nailed it down (hence why I haven’t provided a Webster’s definition… or it could be that my Webster’s is in a box. ;D).

    Anyway, I’m rambling, and I’m half-asleep so I probably don’t make sense. But I commented, as you ask, and this is a mini blog post unto itself, so I satisfied two of your wants. Hope you’re in platinum aspiration now, dear. XD

    August 28, 2009 at 2:39 am

  2. rachel

    Just a note: I refrained from commenting on other posts because I couldn’t think of anything to say..
    However, as a person who dabbles in most everything that could be called art (Music, writing, drawing, etc), I totally can post here.

    I agree with the statement that art is a snapshot into what the Artist was thinking/feeling/trying to say at the time of making that art piece. For me art is something that invokes an emotional response from anyone other then the artist. ‘Cause art (as in putting some paint, etc, onto a paper, etc.), and music totally get that response from me. But also in that light stories and especially story telling are also art. Because if they are well done they take you away into a world were you end up feeling just like the main character does (Anger at mistreatment of others, sadness at the loss of a friend, etc).

    So though not nearly as long as the other senior artist’s post, I hope this gives some food for discussion.

    August 28, 2009 at 8:06 am

  3. V

    Hiya Lauren. Good post! Or good start at least…this is a pretty massive subject. 😉 I don’t know if I have much to contribute except to say that I agree with Rachel’s definition of art as anything that evokes (or is meant to evoke) an emotional response in the viewer/listener–something that speaks to the senses rather than the intellect (but not necessarily that it *appeals* to the senses–personally I think Picasso’s Guernica is an amazing, emotional piece of art, but I’d hardly say it’s *attractive* in the typical sense). Of course, this treads the fine line between thought-provokingly disturbing (e.g. Guernica) and just plain tasteless (e.g. Andres Serrano’s crucifix in urine). Same goes for literature (e.g…I dunno, a really well written love story as opposed to a semi-pornographic romance novel). I think in music it can be even more difficult to find this “line” if you’re trying to make a disturbing impact…I mean, does Katy Perry’s music qualify as art? Does “Pokerface” speak to anyone emotionally? Maybe it just wants to make someone dance. Is dance an art form? 😉 Or drama? I think so…an excellent play can speak to me like the way a great novel can. But I’m just opening topics here, not answering anything. 😉

    At any rate, I do think painting can speak to the soul, and I think it can show you as much or more of a soul than poetry can, because words are limited things. What stirs your heart in English may not reach someone at all when it’s translated into their native tongue. Words are naturally bound by the culture they were born in. I’ve heard people complain all the time (and I’ve complained too 😉 ) that a particular poem or novel is so much better in its original Spanish/French/Russian/whatever than it is in English. While poetry/novels as art can be beautiful (and certainly one of my favorite forms), they get lost in translation too easily. This isn’t (usually) a problem with paintings/sculpture, but I think it’s harder to evoke an emotional response in that kind of art (and I might know, I’ve been making pictures since I was 3). That said, paintings and the like can definitely speak to the senses, but I guess maybe to have to “see” them a certain way to appreciate them for something more than colors and shapes. I can do this, but maybe not everyone can. Maybe it just takes practice or training. But I think it’s perfectly normal that one art form speaks more to you than another. Poetry and paintings speak far more to me than, say, dance or drama, but that doesn’t mean one art form is better or more important. It’s just a matter of where one’s strengths are at.
    So with all that said, I think you’re right about music being the universal language because not only does it not rely on language, you don’t have to understand it to appreciate it. Everyone likes music (I’ve only met one person who claimed he didn’t, and he’s weird). So, yay music! (And I know you hate it, but math is a universal language too. 😉 Don’t get me wrong, I’m NOT a math person at all, but it’s tied very closely into music. But is it art? I don’t think so…I’ve never responded emotionally to it for sure. So we’ll skip it. 😉 )

    Oh, and the little spiel on art crime made me smile because I love that kind of stuff. Not that I’d DO it, but art theft (and forgery!) and its legal aspects are fascinating. But this comment has already run on and on. Sorries.

    August 28, 2009 at 11:20 am

  4. bestseller2b


    I am so excited that you guys posted your thoughts on this subject! It’s really awesome to see what you guys are thinking about this, and I love hearing your opinions. 😀

    But… as much as I love you Rachel, I don’t agree with your definition of art, per se. I don’t think that if it elicits an emotional response from you, then it’s considered ‘art’. If you saw some guy attack a young girl and beat the living daylights out of her, that would elicit an emotional response, right? If I saw that happen, I would want to kick the guy’s skull in while screaming at the top of my lungs. If I saw a scene like that, even if it might ‘speak’ to me emotionally, I would not consider it ‘art’.

    Maybe a good definition of art would be something that takes talent or skill to create. Art is a portrayal of excellence. It conveys the beauty of creation or the Creator. So, like you said V, you can look at a painting, and if you see those elements, then it is art. And only then will it ‘speak’ to you emotionally. Could you also apply this definition to music, poetry, or storytelling? I think so. I guess this definition could also apply to *gasp* math too then, eh? It portrays the beauty of the Creator, and you need to have a LOT of skill or talent to understand it… 😉

    And if I expressed myself to seem like I don’t like or appreciate paintings, please know I do appreciate it! I think paintings are really awesome, although unnecessary drama does seem to surround it at times. I just don’t understand why people pay such a bloody fortune for them. 😉

    August 28, 2009 at 10:32 pm

  5. V

    Yeah, I agree it’s a bit ridiculous what people will pay for paintings, although they really do take a lot of time and effort. I think the problem is that people will pay millions more for a picture by a “master artist” (Rembrandt, Picasso, etc.) than they will for an equally good painting of the same period by a less famous artist. They judge the value of the art based on who painted it rather than the painting’s skill or beauty, and that’s a primary reason why “art crime” is such big business. People will pay millions for a painting to find out it’s a forgery. Pretty sad.

    August 29, 2009 at 11:29 am

    • bestseller2b

      Yeah, I agree. What they’re paying for is ‘reputation’ not the actual artwork. 🙂

      September 3, 2009 at 3:21 pm

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