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Art can roughly be divided into two categories: art that you think you could have done yourself, and art you definitely know you could never have done yourself. You reach a point with some art where you say to yourself why didn’t I think of doing that?

All artists must come to the realization that art does not care who invents it, who nurtures and cares for it, and it really doesn’t care who is successful and who is not. There are no formulas, no quick fixes, and definitely no right or wrong ways of thinking, doing, or creating.

Art is what art is and nothing less. Whether your artwork reveals an aspect of your personality, expresses your point of view, addresses a personal journey, and/or explores your unique identity, each artwork you create carries both a part of your story and the story of civilization. The story of art begins with civilization. Civilization is the ideal state of human knowledge characterized by the complete absence of barbarism and non-rational behavior and includes the optimum utilization of physical, cultural, spiritual, and human resources.

The development of art and the role of the artist

Although the kind of culture which we call a ‘civilization’ is not necessarily superior to that of less sophisticated societies, some characteristics of a civilization affect the development of art and therole of artists. First, accumulated wealth provides the leisure time to enjoy art. Second, the tendency towards specialized labor allows for the skilled craft traditions to develop and mature. Third, social stratification develops, along with a desire to express social status. And fourth, technological innovations make it easier to undertake large-scale projects, such as extensive roads and massive buildings. Art establishes and makes tangible a time, a place, a thought, and an idea.

Art, properly made, enhances and enriches the lives of others. Art gives an opportunity to endow new life and new meaning into the ordinary. Art gives an opportunity to design your own world, and, as in your children, create a significant immortality. Art is hard-earned work that is its own reward and has a degree of permanence. Art, because it’s so easy to do, and yet so difficult to do well, encourages humility in the human soul. Art is an apprenticeship that can be stretched into a lifelong education.

Art thrives on democratic ideals, freedom of expression and rugged individualism. Art permits you to step out of the social labyrinth and into a quiet corner of your own private and humble joy.

To be humbled by nature is a good thing

For the past twenty plus years I have coordinated a small group of dedicated artists who meet once a month somewhere in Southern California to paint together on-location. The group is made up of retired art professors, aeronautical engineers, illustrators, and artists. Over time our motto has become “to be humbled by nature is a good thing.”

Try painting watercolors or acrylics out of doors in 90°+ temperatures. Draw in pastels or paint in oils when it’s very cold and windy and you’re wearing bulky clothes and fingerless-gloves. And, learn to work quickly as, since 9/11, it is almost certain that the local police will be coming around to pay you a visit and investigate what you are doing, (you know how suspicious artists are) and then telling you why you can’t sit or stand where you are.

Art is freedom.

About the Author

Lawrence Klepper

Lawrence Klepper

As an artist, Gallery Management Instructor, Gallery Director, Independent Curator, and Special Exhibitions Coordinator for City art museums, college art galleries, and commercial galleries in Califor...