What defines a creative work of art?

“This is art?” I kept asking myself while walking through a small museum on the campus of Brigham Young University, five years ago.

My lack of understanding and creativity wasn’t rare at such a young age; in-fact: no matter what age you are, you probably see a painting or some type of work of art and sometimes wonder why it is considered “art”. It’s not uncommon to see a piece of artwork and ask questions such as: “Why is this art?” and “I could make something like this, so why isn’t my work in a museum?”

Not only does it makes sense to ask such questions about creative works of art, asking questions is exactly what defines a work of art. It may have taken me years to come to this realization of what “art” really is, but the truth has been there since the first work of art was created on cave walls thousands of years ago.

In my opinion: a creative work of art is something that makes you ask questions and, because it makes you ask questions, it gets your creativity flowing.

Asking questions is one of the best ways to fuel your creativity, so it’s only right that true creative works of art will make you want to ask questions. When you wonder about a work of art, you are trying to see the world from a new perspective (that of the artist), and you are expanding your own creative knowledge based on the answers you create for the questions you ask. Make sense?

Instead of asking “Why is this art?” next time you discover a work of art in a museum, simply look at the artwork and begin to evaluate it with your own opinions. Let your mind wander around the work of art, the story behind the artwork (if you know it), the artist, the colors used, the types of materials used to create the artwork.

A true creative work of art will make you ask questions, such as: “Why did the artist use this color?”, “Why did the artist put this line here?”, “Is there a message behind this work that the creator is trying to portray?”, “How could this be improved?”, and “If certain elements were removed, would the work of art still give the same impression?”

Art should make you wonder; really great art will instantly bring questions to mind. It is through the questions that are asked because of a work of art, that creativity is empowered.

Take a painting by Christina Doelling as an example.

Take 30 seconds to just look at the painting. Then, begin to visually take apart the artwork and let your mind ask questions. What emotions do you think Christina was experiencing when she created the artwork? Why do you think she decided to use the colors that she did? What if the lines in the painting were more defined? Do you see something in the painting that may not be vivid to others? These are just a few questions to get you started, feel free to ask more questions in the comments about this work of art.

And the next time you are walking through an art museum, or the next time you sit down to try and create a work of art, remember that the art should beg questions of those who view it. Any work of art should make the viewer want to stop and think.

As Louise Nevelson, a famous American sculptor, once said: “Art is everywhere, except it has to pass through a creative mind.”