Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Creator or Maker

I’ve been pondering again. (Uh-oh.) I was wondering whether I’m a “creator” or just a “maker” and I’ve pretty much settled on the latter. Creating, to me anyway, implies that there must be some meaning attached to the thing you created, whatever it is. Something you make that Says Something, preferably Something Important. Art with a capital A. I went to art school way back in my extreme youth and I confess I didn’t understand a lot of what went on there. We were supposed to defend our work with big words holding lots of meaning. I had no clue. If I made something it was just because I was trying something out, playing with colours or shapes or techniques. Often I’d be copying things that I had seen and trying to apply them. I was more interested in the materials than in the message so my work was very lightweight and derivative. Sometimes I was pleased with it but when that happened I wasn’t sure how I did it. And you can be sure my instructors didn’t like it! It was then that I realized that I would never be a real Artist. I still had a burning need to make things — but not necessarily Art.

I dropped out of art school and I went back to making things with fibres. Yarns and threads and fabrics and dyes were not Art. Spinning and weaving and sewing and knitting and felting were not Art, at least according to my instructors back there in the late 1960’s. Nowadays I could very probably get an art degree with a specialty in fibre but not then when all the school staff was male and drawing, painting and sculpture were the only acceptable fine arts. Besides, I had no need to say anything with my work. I was happy just to get it made and hopefully used. Yes, I started making mostly useful things. Definitely not Art!

Of course I still make things. I absolutely must work on something every day. However I don’t make up my own designs, at least not very often. I don’t think I ever make anything exactly the way someone else did either. I consider myself a “tweaker”. I take something that somebody else has done and change a little bit here and another bit there, readjust the colours and assemble parts from many sources until I have what I want. For the most part I’m very pleased with my “making” both in the execution and the results. And that’s all that counts for me.

On the other hand, “meaning” to me is very individual. Eye of the beholder and all that. I’ve often disagreed with the standard accepted interpretation of symbols. I have my own symbolism but I’m often much too literal. I had a hard time in school when the teacher said that a poem had a certain meaning because it might have meant something completely different to me when I read it. Besides, how did she or anybody know exactly what the poet was thinking? Except the poet. I think that’s why I often need an artist’s statement to know what they were trying to say. Except that sometimes they get carried away with the Art Speak and then I’m back to not understanding their work again. Mostly I don’t really care what they’re saying. I’m interested in colour and line, less in content and context. Whew! I’m dizzy from going around in circles.

Say what you mean and mean what you say! Somebody else can do the “creating”.

So, after all that blather what have I been making? I’m halfway done my charcoal gloves. Which I didn’t put on the sidebar because Blogger was giving me a hard time yesterday. And not much else. I was taking a bit of a break after the busy days I’ve had recently. My thumb is still sore but improving. I need to do some more seed planting under the lights. Sometimes I don’t move very fast.


Sharon in Surrey said...

Well . . . dahling, I'm a Maker or a Copier as I call it too. I really don't make anything original, I copy bits & pieces or a whole thing & do it in my own way. Maybe I just make it in a wild color or maybe I 'steal' parts & put em all together. Sometimes I just take something & do it differently with texture. I don't want to interpret, find "meaning" or symbolism in Art. I just want it to catch my fancy!!

Cynthia said...

I'm coming to this late ... but it's interesting to think about. Do you suppose Vermeer was Saying Something? Or just trying to capture the light? Or both? I think that Making a Statement has only recently become such a part of high art.

Louisa said...

I'm with you on the Making a Statement thing being a recent invention. However, it has become so pervasive that earlier artists have been often been painted (in retrospect) with that same brush. I think a lot of earlier artists were also craftsmen (or women - though we rarely hear about them!) and were beholden to their patrons or their church for their living. So a lot of times they painted what they were told to rather than painting what they wanted to and then trying to sell it like modern artists do. However at the same time I'm sure they were learning and experimenting with their subjects and materials and developing an individual style and all that. How could they help it?