What is an artist? Most dictionaries will answer to this question as being a person who creates things through great skill and imagination.
Talent, skill, creativity are the necessary tools for being an artist from my point of view. Mastering well the techniques, having courage to experiment at times, not standing still, not being a prisoner of repetitive schemes are also of vital importance. Yet, I see all of these as making part of a well-trained artist, and being only a well-trained artist is reductive.
In my opinion, an artist - a painter, to better put it, since this is what I want to talk about - should have something more than great technical skills and even imagination. She/He has to have vision! Vision that should come from the heart and soul of that artist. She/He should be humane but keep inside the glimpses of eternity, the memory of never-ending spaces, places and thoughts, the memory of worlds that seem to come from different dimensions. She/He should be in contact with higher realms. The artist should be free and not constrained to his age artistic 'fashion', to what the others expect him to create, to what the art market dictates, in order to make a living out of his art. Not that this is wrong, but I am talking here about the pure concept of being an artist. The one who has courage to hold tight on her/his convictions, on her/his, in the end, own style of painting, on her/his uniqueness. An artist should be one who is not afraid of travelling new paths with the conviction and resolution of a mad hatter without bothering about being considered one. The history of art is full of such examples. Van Gogh is only one such artist who created no matter what, kept painting irrespective of the non-appreciation of his contemporary fellow artists and people.
When painting, an artist should put his heart on the canvas, the brush strokes should be in fact his soul strokes and the final product - the painting - should be the perfect illustration of his thoughts, feelings, emotions, experiences. That painting is a part of her/his soul shared with the world, a world that may see itself reflected in it, with all its doubts, fears, happiness, love, etc.
When I look at a painting, I seek moments of contemplation, I seek answers to questions I might have, inspiration and suggestions for situations I am going through. In my opinion, a painting should be both a mirror (reflecting your life) and a window (gives you a different perspective of the same problem) or creates worlds which you hold inside your soul, your imagination, but never had the chance to actually see them. I need a painting to 'talk' to me, I need to 'listen' to its 'sounds'.
Our contemporary art movement consists in keys which are stuck on the canvas, two lines drawn on a huge cardboard, two brush strokes of two different colours, straws or matches covered in oil paint and thrown on the canvas in an illogical 'ordered' manner. Well, I might be obtuse, but this kind of art does not wake up my spirit, does not enrich my days and I categorise it under the title 'Kitsch'. If one gives a brush and some watercolours to a child, she/he does a better job in painting lines, and swirls, etc. but nobody has ever considered putting up an art show in a gallery with her/his drawings and calling them 'invaluable works of art'. Yet, again I come and say, art is free, consequently the artist should be free too. Each and every artist is free to choose the style she/he feels more comfortable with and so are the collectors or admirers of art.
The idea is that, I for one, would have loved to see more aesthetic art and more visionary artists in the galleries and on the pages of art magazines.
Do such artists still exist? Yes, and I had the fortune of beautifying my days with the works of one such artist, Ric Nagualero. Which is his art style? 'Philosophism' he likes to call it, since his paintings are thoughts, answers to the questions one might have, put on canvas. What is his philosophy? 'Where thoughts become paintings'. This mixture of intellect, imagery, wisdom, and beauty is what makes all the difference. A work of art should be like this: a little cryptic, with a spiritual reality in it, which is not immediately apparent to senses, intelligent, illustrating the communion with a higher realm.
No, I am not an artist, in case you were wondering. I am one who simply loves art and I am writing here my thoughts and feelings about what I think art means. So, do not take this as a valuable study made by a connoisseur, but as a mere opinion coming from my heart.
Art means aesthetic beauty, simplicity, colour, shape. This is what I expect from the artistic movement nowadays. Artist means heart on canvas, vision, wit, meanings and thoughts conveyed through colours and brush strokes.
Let your soul quench its thirst of aesthetic beauty! I am sure it will thank you...