The View from the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World
By Ted Orland (2006)
By Ted Orland (2006)
Chapter 3: Art & Society, Part 2
I’m feeling optimistic today, especially after reading your comments from the last post. Thank you! It’s time to return to Chapter 3 of Orland’s book:
There’s a pervasive myth, shared by artists and nonartists alike, that art is a product of genius, madness or serendipity. Wrong. Art is not the chance offspring of some cosmic (or genetic) roll of the dice. Art is mostly a product of hard work. I think there are two sides to this coin. On the one hand, some people are born with artistic genius, like Mozart, and on the other hand, everyone has an aesthetic sensibility and the potential for artistic expression in some form. But, this doesn’t mean that we’re guaranteed to make “great” art if we work hard. And, those born with artistic genius won’t become great artists if they fail to work at it.
Orland continues: One of the … truths about artmaking is that it’s more important to be productive than to be creative. If you’re productive your creativity will take care of itself. If you are not productive then how exactly is it you intend to be creative?
OK, Mr. Orland – we’re getting bogged-down with terms that need clarification: “genius,” “creativity,” “productivity.” At what point is someone clever enough to be considered a genius? At what point does an act become a “creative” act? What amount of productivity is considered enough for the serious artist? It all seems relative to me and there’s no clear answer in this chapter.
So, we move on to making the distinction between “creativity” and “the creative process.” Here, we turn to the ideas of David Bayles who believes that creativity involves innovation and the creative process means productivity. Orland writes: But to you – the maker- the important thing is whether one piece helps show you the way down the road to the next piece. Looking back over a pile of early pieces, you come to realize that it’s the ninety-nine percent you never show others that laid the groundwork for the one percent that soar.
This means that it’s the next painting and the painting after that, and so on that matter. As the author points out, you can make some great paintings early on but if nothing of significance follows then it doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. This is like the “one hit wonder” syndrome that characterizes many rock groups or the Hollywood standard line “What have you done lately?”
We’re left with this advice:
Annie Dillard – How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.
Ted Orland – Ordinary people make art when they make extraordinary concerns a part of their daily life.
I think I’ll head to the studio now… tomorrow, the rest of Chapter 3.
What are your thoughts?