Why Made Out of Thin Air?
The other night, as I watched Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, with Jerry Seinfeld as the host, and his guest Will Ferrell, (Season 2, Episode 3 on Netflix), Seinfeld told a story of his wife purchasing art with a painted bunny as the subject.
“Anything that you make out of thin air, that someone else likes, is art”, Jerry said about his wife's newest purchase.
Naturally, the conversation wandered around the idea of what comedians make.
Interesting discussion if you ask me.
As a result, Made Out of Thin Air was just the title I was looking to find for this painting.
Creative process is magical for those who don’t create
Of course, I understand people who are amazed by the process of creating something that didn't exist before. It must seem as though any new creation is like pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Long gone are the days when creatives surrounded us, when we saw our mothers and grandmothers knitting practical items such as hats, mittens, socks, sweaters for every day wear. Also gone are the days when food was made from scratch. Time is a valuable commodity. It is much quicker and easier to buy those prepared food and machine made mittens.
Making things and passing on knowledge makes us human
The Guardian published an article in 2017 about traditional crafts or artisanship at risk of disappearing with an ageing population.
“Craft skills today are in the same position that historic buildings were a hundred years ago. We recognize the importance of old buildings as part of our heritage, and it’s time for us to join the rest of the world and recognize that these living cultural traditions are just as important and need safeguarding too.”
“Crafting and traditional skills are hugely important,” [...] “Making things and passing on knowledge through the generations is part of what makes us human.”
For example, piano and saw making are two of the more commonly known traditional crafts on the extinction list. Although I did not see tatting on the list, it surely must be another lost skill among so many.
Handmade crafts are disappearing into thin air.
Each artisan or creative person continues to learn during the hand making process: dexterity, concentration, precision, attention to detail, strength, imagination are only a few of the “skills” that the individual must develop during the entire process of making something that didn't exist before.
Obviously, there is a learning curve to becoming masterful at any skill. It takes years of determined effort and practice to become skilful at any new creative endeavour.
It is definitely NOT pulling something out of thin air!
Because the whole hand making process is so far removed from us today, we don't appreciate all the skills that went into making the article. Handmade jewellery, embroidered tablecloths, finely carved furniture, all must seem made out of thin air.
A new appreciation for handmade products
Fortunately, there is a return of the individual artisan with an emphasis on locally made as opposed to offshore, mass-produced items.
While it’s true that we don’t necessarily need to have handmade items, the fact is that hand made items are usually of much better quality than the same mass-produced item.
Homes have become little workshops: soaps, jewelry, toys, etc. are made on a small scale and sold online.
My street is busy with handcrafting artisans
For example, across the street from me, is a world renown guitar maker who fabricates exquisite instruments bought by the rich and famous.
Just around the corner is a jewelry and soap maker.
And further down the street are puppet makers, also world renown. In their garage, they sew outfits, create the bodies, sculpt the faces out of wood, clay, or fibreglass. The couple has won awards such as a Citation of Excellence in the Art of Puppetry from the international puppetry association, UNIMA. In addition, the puppeteer couple perform in libraries, theatres, schools, festivals, all across Canada!
Comedians understand the creative process.
As a stand-up comedian, Jerry Seinfeld understands the concept of making something out of thin air.
His whole career is based on the writing he did for his gigs on stage. Those jokes were "pulled from thin air" too. He admits that the process was at times, difficult.
Still, the entertaining dialogue in that segment with Will Ferrell provided me a title for my painting.
After several months, I decided I didn't like the first floral painting enough to keep. My little artist-helper covered up the canvas with her own colours, in her own fashion.
And now, the painting hangs on the dining room wall... A close-up shows the fine gold lines that are apparent only at certain angles. Dance of the Hummingbirds is another of my paintings hanging above the piano in my living room. It also went through several transformations before emerging out of thin air...
Which form of art do you practise? If you had a wish, which skill would be revived? What have we lost/gained in the last fifty years in sacrificing handmade items for factory made, mass-produced articles?