Niki Hilsabeck

Fallbrook, United States

Niki Hilsabeck is an artist from Fallbrook, whose art is mostly inspired by her impressionistic view of life in Southern California. /...

Where is the Craft?

Something for me to work on this year: taking charge of my craft.

Craft is a funny word. I always laugh when actors use it, although I know they take their “craft” seriously. If you’re “crafty,” that’s not considered a compliment. And when it comes to “arts and crafts,” well, craft might be synonymous with “crap,” depending on your taste.

The internet has opened up a great opportunity to share our art with the world. Yet, as I browse through it, I find myself asking “Where is the craft?” There are thousands upon thousands of sharp, stunning images to view. How many of them look like someone actually put some thought and time into an original piece, rather than recycle an old idea with a graphic twist?

Technology has brought the gift of artistic expression to everyone. Got a digital camera? Call yourself a photographer. Have a few minutes to start a blog? Bang, you’re something of a published writer. For many, art has become a momentary thing— a quick flash of vision, shared with the world on the web, then gone into oblivion. How many of us are willing to commit to the time and effort it takes to produce a true work of art, especially in a world where no one has time for anything?

Last year, I too fell under the spell of technology. I’m an impatient person, and was enthralled with the practice of painting, photographing and posting in a quick manner. I eventually learned that I needed to establish wait time between creating and posting, and think about what it was I learned from or tried to express with each piece. For me, there’s no worse feeling than going through the practice of posting work, only to realize once it’s been posted that I really didn’t crop that image completely correctly, or there’s a splash of color in the wrong place. I even catch myself going through old blog posts looking for typos, because I view everything I post online as a reflection of myself and my work.

The immediacy of technology, and the need to stay constantly exposed (lest people forget about you) has become too much of a temptation for some, and it shows. For me, 2011 is going to be about buckling down and paying full attention to my pieces, and not envisioning the reaction they’re going to get when I post them online, or enter them into shows. Even though I might be working in short spurts, such as on daily paintings, I’ll be reminding myself that I need to make that work time count even more. I truly enjoy working alla prima, but once finished, I’ll be reminding myself, “Just because you can post it now, doesn’t mean you should!”

If my work doesn’t have obvious intentions, I’ll be shelving it until I can take a fresh look at it. My goal is to be able to look at my own work and enjoy the effort I put into it, rather than worry about what others are going to say about it. In a world where everyone is encouraged to turn outward for approval, I’m turning inward. If others happen to enjoy it or learn from it, great— ultimately, I need to be able to marvel at my own craft.

Journal Comments

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