What is Art? by Deb Bartos

Laundry Day in Italy 12×16 in water soluble oil 2009

My name is Deb Bartos. I love art, nature, and exploring new places. I’ve painted on location since taking a Plein Air workshop in 1993. I found that painting plein air was the answer to getting the colors and light I wanted in my paintings. I’ve tried many art mediums, but I like water-soluble oils, such as Weber Water-Mixable wOil colors, the best for the workability, drying time, and non-toxic solvent (water).
Weber Water-Mixable Oils
I enjoy painting and sharing what I have learned with others who are interested in learning more about art. I would like to invite you to be a collector of my work and a student in my workshops.

I paint from life and my own photo references on my travels locally and abroad. My dream is to be a full-time artist and teach workshops in fabulous places, including Colorado, my home of 25 years.

For 7 years, I taught Art Appreciation at a university in Colorado Springs and learned much from the experience.

“What is Art?” by John Canaday was our textbook. “What is Art” was the first question I asked my students the first day of class. What would you say? What do you think of when someone mentions the word “art?” What does it mean to you and why?

I had them write down their answers and shared them anonymously with the group. It made for a great discussion. The class was Art Appreciation and they were non-majors. Their answers to “what is art?” were those formed by their life in society as a whole, not something they learned from another art professor. They were fresh, blank canvases to the “art world” and it was great. Our conversation provided a wonderful introduction to their experience of art, as it covered most of the topics of life itself.

I stopped asking the question, “why are you taking this class?” because the answer was always, “for the 3 credits.” (Like I said earlier, fresh canvases. I loved it.) The second day of class, we toured local art museums and galleries. When I asked the questions, “How many of you have ever been to our local fine art center, the business of art center, or the local history museum?” an occasional, slow, hand would go up in answer to my question. But it was almost always accompanied by an excuse of someone else dragging them there. One of my biggest joys was the last day of class, when several students would tell me, “I’m going to take my kids to go see the places we saw, they need to see them too. Yes!

As part of their 3 credits, they completed an art project or wrote a paper about art. The best part of art is doing it, right? They came up with some really great innovative stuff, and it was always different. No two projects or papers were alike, as I’ve seen universally in art. I took a class once where the instructor had us trace one of her drawings, then do the watercolor glazing that she was teaching. To my amazement, at the end of the class, even with this much structure imposed on us, we all came up with a different result. We are snowflakes, no two alike.

My favorite quote from John Canaday in his book, What is Art?; is that “art and living are inseparable and mutually sustaining.” Yes!

I had an art teacher once who asked me, “are you more interested in the product or the process?” Great question! The best art advice I ever received, and enjoy sharing, is “keep on painting!”
I would love to hear your thoughts on “what is art?” and why you do it. I’m so encouraged by the company of other artists, we are the ones engaging in the process. I would love to have you come paint with me in Colorado or on a travel workshop. Keep on painting!

Please visit my new blog started on 01-01-10 at www.bartosart.blogspot.com
titled, “A Painting a Day for a Year and what I Learn from it.”

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