Do you think art-work is play? I just finished teaching a 4 week workshop with Winslow Art Center. It amazed me how students mentioned that when they began to ‘play’ around with an idea, they were more successful. I’m always a bit annoyed when people talk about how ‘fun’ it must be to work as an artist.
I don’t consider what I do as fun – but it IS play in a sense. It’s play like you’d decide to ‘play golf. I take it seriously, and I’m trying for specific goals. I may not always know how to make a hole in one, but I can follow general principles to ensure a fairly long and straight shot. Art play is a challenge that obsesses me.
Art-work also requires a lot of experimentation and a fairly casual mind-set. Nothing freezes the creative impulse like pressure to perform. Creativity is a delicate balance between art play and evaluation. I try to separate my art play from the critical process.
The December/January show at Waterstone Gallery is titled “Play.” It will be interesting to see how each artist’s art showcases the theme PLAY.My pieces are titled “Jump” and “Swing Thing.” Both are abstract interpretations of fun activities from my childhood. Jumping off a diving board or riverbank, and swinging from a tree limb were thrilling back then, when everything was about play.
Teaching that workshop made me realize that taking my artwork too seriously probably has a negative effect on my creativity. I consider art to be a vital part of my life: one of the essentials. But it is also one of life’s luxuries and pleasures for many people. I hope you’re one of the folks that see it as essential.
Join me and my fellow Waterstone artists on Thursday, December 2 from 5-8 pm for the opening of “Play.” I love shows like this one because I find it fascinating to see how different artists approach the theme. I hope to see you there!
Waterstone Gallery, 124 NW 9th Avenue
Portland, OR 97209
First Thursday, Open til 8:00 pm
Tuesday through Saturday
11 am–5:30 pm
and Sunday 11 am-4 pm
When I taught art to 7th& 8th graders in Scappoose, Oregon, I approached my classroom as a Serious about art, but a play ful approach with young students. My goal with students was that I wanted them to want more art in their lives as they got older. The result of that goal was obvious when the high school didn’t have enough art teachers for the demand for art classes from the incoming freshman. This came to me when the principal of my school told me the high school principal called him & asked who was teaching art at the middle school. That principal invited me to teach at the high school, which I did eventually. Alexander Calder loved young animals at “Play”.
It was the root of his art…. that young animals are Playful! I truly believe that young artistic humans & older ones need to be Playful as they make art, a necessary human endeavor.
This is a great take on art and play. Lucky students to have you as a teacher!
Excellent point about how seriously and obsessively we approach art. Even our looseness is strategy to get a good result.
Enjoyed reading, thanks!
Thanks Kasey! Good point about trying to be ‘loose!’
The trouble for me is that I have to remember that I do not have to make money by making art. Soon as I start thinking about doing a painting so that it will sell I am working rather than playing. Same thing goes for doing a painting to win a . contest. Doing both work and play at the same time is like walking a tight rope. Very tricky. When in this realm it can be hard to be honest with myself.
I agree, Hank. I have similar issues!