A Time for the Arts
One way or another I’m involved with a variety of arts. I write fiction, take photographs, and paint with watercolor. I am involved with several groups of writers and with an art gallery near my home. My wife quilts and sings with a local women’s chorus. Both of my children have careers in music and theater.
I am struck by the differences between these various forms of artistic expression. All of them require the involvement of two, sometimes three participants. There is the artist who creates the work and there is the audience, the viewer, the reader or the listener. In the case of music and theater a third participant might be involved; musicians or actors interpreting the music or the play, performing it for the audience.
Time is an additional consideration. The audience experiences the arts in different time frames. For visual arts, people look at the work of art, the painting, the sculpture or the design and absorb the art in a moment or two. They might linger, contemplating the work longer but it often takes only a few seconds to enjoy the visual arts. The artist however might have taken much longer to create the work. Watercolor, as I explain in my novel The Art of Love, can be a fast process. The artist works quickly following the flow of the paint on the paper. Painting in oil or acrylic can take days to complete. Sculpture, depending on the material involved, is a time-consuming endeavor for an artist.
Composing music also takes time. But the audience experiences the music differently than they do visual art. Appreciating music demands more than a moment from the listener. The composition develops and the theme plays out with variations over several minutes or more. I won’t even go into the way sound itself involves sound waves of different lengths or how harmonics play a part. Drama, dance and other theatrical arts are similar. The audience must let the art happen over time, several minutes, maybe an hour or more. Music is an evolutionary experience. No performance will be exactly the same as earlier ones although recordings preserve near-perfect moments. Visual art is static. Once it is created it never changes.
I am primarily a writer. I have been writing for years but only recently have I been published. My first book, Finding Our Way, was released three years ago. The Art of Love, my first novel came out just last year. My next novel will be ready to go to my publisher in a few weeks. Writing takes time. Just getting the first draft complete takes months and all the revisions, the rewrites and the editing take even longer. The publication process alone takes months as well. When a book is released my readers begin their involvement with my story. I have been told by some of my readers that they read my books a few pages at a time over weeks. One told me that The Art of Love was “a real page-turner”; they read the whole book in a single night.
However the audience experiences any art form they layer their own set of life experiences over that of the artist. In that way they add their own dimension, their own creativity to that of the original artist. People interpret my stories much the way musicians interpret a composer’s original music. It all takes time, but whenever a work of art touches the audience, moves them and makes them feel and think differently they are changed forever.
Peter Stipe is the author of Finding Our Way; a collection of short stories, and The Art of Love, a novel. Both books are available from Amazon and from high-tide-publications.com and from Peter Stipe.com Facebook: PeterGStipe