February 17, 2016

Is Art Hard?

Vintage black and white photograph of a little girl sitting at a typewriter with a cat plushie.  The girl has the cat positioned so it looks as though the cat is the one typing.
Image from Graphics Fairy

    “Stop pretending art is hard.”

    This is an idea I have a lot of feelings and often confusion around.  The two places I am used to hearing this from are GISHWHES and Amanda Palmer’s Ukulele Anthem.  At first when I heard the statement I didn’t totally understand what it was saying or talking about.  Maybe it was the idea that some people think art is some elusive thing that they can’t do.  Maybe it is the idea of some people thinking themselves better than others because they can do art.  I am not sure.  I know that I have had some trouble with some of the ideas that are related to this.

    I was in a bad relationship and the person asked me if writing was hard.  It wasn’t a simple “hey I was just wondering” question.  This person prescribed to the idea that if a thing was hard for you then you were no good at it and should just not try again.  While at other times they would insist that you weren’t trying hard enough.  I didn’t know what answer would be right this time.  I don’t remember what I told him.  All I remember is that I lied.

    The answer I would have given if I were honest would be yes writing is hard.  But that leaves a lot left unsaid.

    Outside of learning to write words and sentences for the first time, whether it is a person learning to read and write or a person learning a new language, writing as an action is relatively simple.  One word followed by another.  But capturing something on the page is more difficult.  You have to understand what you are writing about.   You have to be able to convey it to the reader.  It has to seem natural and not out of place.  All of this is far more difficult than the simple act of writing.

Vintage black and white silhouette of victorian lady sitting at an easel painting with grass and a flower in the background.
Image from Graphics Fairy

    Think of painting.  Anyone can slap color on the page.  And anyone can create something beautiful or emotional that way.  Anyone can have fun painting if they want.

    Now imagine a Thomas Kinkade painting.  Think of all the time that must go into those.  Not just the time spent on each painting, but also the time spent learning the techniques and methods that go into creating those masterpieces.  Think of all the patience.  That is far more effort than just playing around with paint.  And even still that doesn’t make doodles any less art.

    Art is easy.  Art is everywhere and possibly everything.  It is getting the idea from inside your head out and communicating it to the viewer through whatever medium you are using.  That is the difficult part.  It takes skill and patience and time.  And that can be frustrating and difficult.  It is a lot of work.  Art is work.  It doesn't always feel like work and those times can be amazing.  So when the work is really hard the arts can feel really hard too.

    So art is easy. And art is hard. It's not simple, but it's worth it.



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