The art of creating art

Taking the first step can be hard, but now's the time to begin

In its essence, art is self-expression — some art just happens to be shared in some way. But if this judgment, this value-setting is your main hindrance, then there’s nothing stopping you from the actual creation of the art itself other than your own judgment — which, given the right mindset, you can also make into an art piece. After all, judgment is a form of emotion, too.

Jin Tuan

In its essence, art is self-expression — some art just happens to be shared in some way. But if this judgment, this value-setting is your main hindrance, then there’s nothing stopping you from the actual creation of the art itself other than your own judgment — which, given the right mindset, you can also make into an art piece. After all, judgment is a form of emotion, too.

So we’re all at home now, all day every day, sheltering-in-place. While we’re busy flattening the curve, we’re also encouraged to take breaks, play sports, do art, be creative. Have you ever found yourself saying repeatedly that you’ve always wanted to do something? Now’s the time to start.

Let’s talk art — specifically, its creation. You might have heard of Ira Glass’s “The Gap,” a video inspiring artists and creators to continue their craft even after hitting a block, reminding them that the titular gap between their taste and their skill demonstrates their potential (If not, search it up. It’s great inspiration for working through blocks of any sort!).

Meanwhile, there’s still so many of you who haven’t even started creating art, saying that you’re not good enough, or that you wish you were. 

I say, you haven’t even done it. You can’t be bad at something you haven’t done. 

In its essence, art is self-expression — some art just happens to be shared in some way. But if this judgment, this value-setting is your main hindrance, then there’s nothing stopping you from the actual creation of the art itself other than your own judgment — which, given the right mindset, you can also make into an art piece. After all, judgment is a form of emotion, too. 

At the end of the day, art, regardless of whether you think you’re good or bad at it, is a form of catharsis and emotional release. In a hackneyed old saying, all of the world’s masters were once amateurs, but there’s also nothing wrong with remaining an amateur. 

Let’s break down that word. “Amateur” comes from the Latin verb amare, meaning “to love”. Despite its negative connotation today, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being or staying an amateur. 

Technical skill doesn’t matter when it comes to this art you’ll be creating. What matters is the ability you gain almost instantly to let loose and express yourself as soon as you put pen to paper, turn on music for some interpretive dancing, monologue extemporaneously in the mirror or do whatever you choose. 

Despite its negative connotation today, there’s nothing inherently wrong with being or staying an amateur.

Aside from the emotional benefits of art, freeing yourself is a great way to work through any problem or process any situation, like all the ambient panic of COVID-19. Regardless of what you’re doing, you can benefit from the fresh perspective or simple mental stimulation that artistic creation gifts you. 

Albert Einstein famously played his violin, Lina. With no existing recordings, no one can know for sure whether he was a virtuoso violinist or not. All the same, it’s undeniable that music helped shape his thinking process and assisted in the formation of his theories, the most concrete example being his development of the theory of general relativity, throughout which he would play the piano and scribble notes down.

When we strip away public opinion, artists who are now publicly successful began their craft to express themselves or to create a monument of their own perspectives. Even classical artists, trained in their craft through rigorous technical schooling, develop quirks in their styles reflective of their personalities.

Much of this worry about not meeting both your own and others’ expectations continues well into an artist’s career, and perfectionism can be a real mental block. To that I say, just close your eyes, shut your ears and go.

If some aspect of your creation doesn’t go as planned, take it in stride. Whatever you do is your own creation, an expression of self that skips the conscious and flows directly into being. As American Painter Bob Ross once said, “We don’t make mistakes — we have happy accidents.” But even before that, you’ll need to break through your stasis and get cracking on art. 

What’s stopping you?