Art is difficult to define. What makes one thing art and another not can be a hard line to find. However, we think of it more generally as adding beauty, detail and/or quality to the world and the things in it. Art is creating and there are nearly limitless possibilities to what you can create. Art, and making art, can be a tool for getting to know yourself. There are a few ways this happens.
First, it’s vital that you know that making art is about so much more than your “abilities”. It doesn’t matter how “good” or “bad” you are (or how good/bad you think you are). Just create and have fun with it, you owe it to yourself. Giving yourself permission to be “bad” at something and to do it anyway can unlock new possibilities. It can inspire you in ways you never knew you could, or even needed to, be.
Second, especially if you’re creating by yourself, making art can be a time of quiet reflection. You can use it to think about the things in life that you’re grateful for, or to think about what else you might want out of the life you’re living, or as a form of meditation. Getting fully involved with a craft or project can let your mind relax, with some occasional wandering. When this happens, take a moment to acknowledge what it is your mind has stumbled onto, write down a note if you need to, and get back to focusing on the work at hand.
Third, if you’re creating with friends then you may find yourself making similar things with some beautiful and varied differences. This can teach you about the diversity in the way you view the world and what’s in it. The colors you choose and other ways your work differs from those around you, can give some insight into your preferences and favorites, the things that you see as beautiful, and what you want to surround yourself with. Even in a follow-along painting, everybody’s end result is unique. Use these distinctions to discover, reflect on, and appreciate the ways in which you are you.
Third, what you choose to create, whether it’s paintings, sculptures, drawings, jewelry, cookies, quilts… the medium you are using and the works you are creating say something about you. They offer insight into the things you value. Making a quilt? It’s likely that you value comfort and coziness, and if you’re making it as a gift it means you want to give someone a beautiful way to be comfortable and cozy. Crafting jewelry? You probably hold self expression to be highly important and use the accessories you’re creating to tell the world something about yourself (and to allow others to do the same). Painting? You likely enjoy watching things come together and seeing the way that two things (like colors or strokes) can blend together and create something entirely different.
Even the details you notice when making something are unique to you. You may focus on the colors, the stitching, the layout… What grabs your attention is a reflection of the things you are most drawn to, the things that signify beauty to you.
Next time you’re making something (and we hope it’s soon), try tuning in to some of these things. Notice where your mind wanders, where you differ from others, where your eyes focus, and where you give your attention.
Apple Pie Painting