What is Art?

When I was young I would have said that paintings and sculptures were art, and that the people who created them were artists. That was it, that was the extent of my definition. It was a child’s simplistic view. I would have also said that I was clearly not an artist because I couldn’t draw or paint, and I certainly couldn’t make sculptures.

As a teenager I really got into music. I loved how the lyrics and melodies could transport me to another place. Some music seemed to speak to me in ways I had never experienced, opening my mind to new possibilities. Some songs even made me start to think about my life and what I wanted to do with it, and more importantly, what I could do with it. I often heard the bands and musicians referred to as artists but for some reason, that word, artist, didn’t feel connected at all to the word that meant painting and sculptures. I know…weird.

As I grew up and carried on with life, I got into the software business. At first, I was a programmer, creating software to help run companies. I loved writing code and thinking about various ways to the solve the problems before me and express the tasks the program was meant to perform. But, back then, I would have never called that art.

As I continued working, I moved further and further away from writing software, and into engineering management. Life at the time seemed fast and furious: promotions, responsibilities, children, schools, and on and on. I didn’t give much thought to art for quite some time.

As time went on I started to feel as if I was missing something, that my life was on autopilot and I wasn’t doing what I needed to be doing. I started spending more time trying to figure it all out and slowly realized that I needed to make things. I needed to feel that I was creating something that was mine, or rather, that came from me. I wasn’t quite sure what that meant at the time.

Since I retired, I’ve been able to spend time creating things, whether it’s software, or blog posts, or working on novels, and while doing my work I’ve thought a lot about creativity and art. My perception of art, and my definition of it has changed and expanded significantly. Perhaps there is something to the old adage with age comes wisdom as I can finally see that creativity and art mean so much more than I thought they did when I was young. Of course, this wisdom grew over a long period of time, and I think having the time to create and to think about the process has allowed me to see so much more about the art all around me. I can now clearly see that musicians are artists, writers are artists, and that even programmers are artists. The word means so much more to me now.

I’ve come to understand a truth: we are all artists. In essence, your art is made by the portion of yourself that you pour into something. It’s how you express yourself, it’s your ideas and your emotions, and it’s how you solve problems. All of these things that you put into your work and your life create your art.

My art is expressed in my writing, and at times, my software. It seems a bit strange to say it that way, but I think it’s true. What about you? What is your art?

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