Part of the education of an artist should include learning to see a painting or drawing as separate from the subject. Most see their work as a representation or as a copy of something tangible. Art therefore should be seen as something more.
According to Kandinsky a work of art is supposed to take on a life of its own. This would mean that a work of art at one point becomes separate from the artist. The concept of seeing art as separate from the subject is a hard thing for many to grasp. The artist first needs to learn how the copy well and then must learn to separate the elements on the substrate from the elements upon which the work is based. The artist at some point needs to stop copying and start using creativity and other concepts.
A true work of art is not just a mechanically created reproduction of something. If we are to believe Kandinsky, art should contain intangible elements placed there intentionally or in some cases unintentionally by the artist. An artist who can orchestrate the same feelings and evoke similar emotions with a common consensus in many viewers will require a higher skill set than that of someone just copying a photograph for example.
The success or failure of a work of art therefore cannot strictly be based on the perceived mechanical skill of the artist by the public. The determination of success must also include the element of intent and the ability to insert the intangible into the work. The artist must have a great ability indeed to have an uneducated viewer have the same emotional response to a work of art as those of the art educated.
Ability vs skill
Ability is a far more important trait for an artist to have than simple skill alone. While some will say that ability is synonymous with skill, I would say that ability speaks more of an artist’s capacity to do more than just demonstrate the mechanical application of the material in a believable way. Ability speaks more of a developed intelligence while skill speaks more of the learnt and the retained mechanics and motions involved in putting pigments on a surface in an organized way.
Using the principles and elements of design
Developing the ability to see art as separate from the subject allows the artist to work with the principles and elements of design and other conceptual ideas within the work itself. The concerns will no longer be whether something “looks” like the subject but rather if what has been created “works” on infinite levels. The artist’s ability to breathe life into his or her work really depends on whether not they can move past their chosen subject and into this state of “separateness” from the work of art.
Life of it’s own
If the artist has suceeded at all levels, their work will be able to stand on its own without the intervention of a long-winded explanation of the work. If artists can apply these concepts and view their creation as separate from the subject, they will be able to move into a deeper and more meaningful relationship with creativity and be able to create a work of art that truly contains a life of its own.