Why Artists spend time creating?

Why do artists spend so much time creating and, frequently, nobody actually gets to see the final product of that work?

What is the purpose or the intention that motivates a creator to isolate himself from the outer world, in order to invest so much time and effort?
Is the goal encrusted in the artwork itself? Is the target the artist himself, the audience or does everything boil down to the act per se?

Is it a hobby, an exercise or a recreation? Is it a tool to materialize a thought or to immortalize a moment, an experience? Is it a form of communication, a treaty loaded with codes and meanings, or is it merely inspiration?
Do artists have a goal or a plan? Or is that meaningless, since the creative process is the only one that is deemed as relevant – similar to a learning procedure or any other intellectual improvement – identical to any other essential or vital process.

There will never be a shortage of questions and assumptions. Perhaps questions don’t even need to have an answer necessarily; they work by themselves, reaping more meaning that way. Maybe they have all the answers encircled in themselves. Probably the questions make even more sense than the answers. Or they can even be like a mathematical problem which doesn’t have a single valid answer. The simple fact that they’re able to foster so many questions is already positive.

Within the creative process there’s something particularly exhilarating and even thought-provoking. The creator lives simultaneously through a cognitive stimulus and a demand that is as physical as it is intellectual, and sometimes even spiritual; akin to a patience game brewed with some jigsaw.

The act of creating encloses at least 3 essential premises: first, it requires the necessary theoretical knowledge, the mastery of methodology and the outline of a strategy. Then, it calls for the proper expertise and dexterity in order to carry out the technical deployment of the tactics at stake. Moreover, it still obliges to summon the entire sensory realm, vital and singular, perhaps the work’s biggest trait of authenticity and soul.

To create is to stir the senses, the perception and the intellect itself, in the thick of an alloy of thoughts, feelings and emotions. Thus, the creative process functions not only as a way to scrutinize and understand the world, but also as a privileged form of expression. Under an intellectual stimulus and a continuous and systematic resolution of problems and setbacks. The activity itself, besides being relaxing, can also become laborious. It’s interesting to listen to an artist, after he has spent eight or more hours working, saying: I’m tired! I don’t believe that I haven’t done anything today!

It makes us think about time’s role in this equation and its relevance.
Can it be a fight against time, seizing one’s lifetime to produce something grandiose, a sort of “immortalization, or is it merely a way to spend it or even lose it? Does the artist consider the future when painting, does he paint to change the past, or does he merely paints the present?

Living the present seems to be the simplest and possibly one of the more realistic justifications. Even though the creation process has the time within itself and a properly defined timeline, the artist can even lose track of the time due to it.

The process unfurls, segmenting and reformulating itself, assuming its shape, akin to any other birth, it becomes alive and, just like any other being, it has to be conquered, developed, educated, until it approaches and enters a route with a trajectory, an azimuth, a goal, a destiny.

Thus, a relationship is established, and subsequently a strong communication is formed, in a pure educational process, considering that the painting does not always go where the artist wants to take it, sometimes it’s the painting that takes the artist’s hand, guiding him. Besides appearing to have a will of its own, there are some works that make the artist lose his patience given their stubbornness. Sometimes he has to face an outcome that binds him to change his initial conception. Sometimes the artist has an intention and, then, the painting uncovers a different one, which can even be better that the initial one. Sometimes the painting inspires him and he just follows it, and one has also to take into consideration a whole lot of struggles and accidents along the way which, in some way, curb or even change the natural course of events. Some even say that there is the hand of God.

In one way or another, the painting keeps unfurling itself, there’s a maturity being engendered.Sometimes, the creator doesn’t know when it will be finished or how to make its finale; this because it has yet to reach the point he has envisioned (or, perhaps, he didn’t even conceptualize it) or because it needs to reach the much-needed perfection (a concept that is also impossible and boundless). Sometimes he kicks and fights the end and there are moments where he doesn’t want to take a single step to move away.

It always is an ungrateful departure, having to put an end to that relation and going through a grieving process. The work, when concluded, stops being his own property. Perhaps, in a last desperate try, the artist signs it with his fingerprint – the result of his DNA. But, whether he wants it or not, after that the relationship he has nourished with the work will unavoidably be a different one. Depending a lot on the artists, on the works and even on the moments, one of two things takes place: it may be a feeling of separation, of not enjoying his creation, a frustration, a resentment or even some acrimony that makes him destroy it, or a feeling of contemplation, of idolatry, of never wanting to move away from it. Whether he wants to never see it again or never wants to see it moving an inch further away from him, the work has entered an adult and mature stage, and it doesn’t need his creator and progenitor for nothing at all anymore. It’s conceived. It’s the end of the relationship. There’s nothing else to do it. It’s time to start everything all over again. His prodigal son will never come back home.

Not only in the Fine Arts, but in arts in general, there are innumerable examples of creators who have spent months or years writing a song, painting on a canvas, or writing a book, without anyone ever seeing the outcome of that. Many others are also aware that, despite all of that time invested, they will never be able to yield any profit or advantage from the work itself, and that doesn’t move them away from their goals. Hence, the art’s purpose is above any other interest, it becomes much more valuable than any financial return. Poor are those whose money is their only wealth.

Pedro Boaventura

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