Art is an area of study that is very broad. Generally, art is defined as a means of self-expression. There is not just one definition widely accepted for Art. Art lends itself to several definitions. Some of these definitions are:
• It is a means of expressing one’s ideas through painting, drawing, sculpting etc.
• It is any activity in which a person gives order and form to organized ideas to bring out a new creation.
• It is a way of life and forms an integral part of life.
• It is the production of items with visual tools such as lines, colour, textures, etc. guided by design principles to satisfy both the aesthetic and functional needs of the individual and the society.
• It refers to the products of human creativity.
•It is a means of self-expression.
Art is broadly divided into two. These are I) Liberal Arts and ii) Creative Arts
i) Liberal Arts refer to the studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills such as law, literature, government, etc. It is usually referred to as humanities since it is a humanistic discipline that addresses concerns of social living.
ii) Creative Arts refer to the arts that employ creative abilities in the production of artefacts that are useful in carrying out our day to day activities. Unlike the liberal arts, creative arts offer self-occupational or practical skills which are manual in nature to its learners. It is the focus as far as the study of Visual art is concerned.
It should be noted that when the term ‘art’ is mentioned in the realms of visual art education, we are in effect talking about the creative arts. It is divided into two main branches namely a) Visual arts and b) Performing Arts.
This refers to all creative or artistic products that are perceived with the sense of sight (optical sense-eye), sense of touch (skin) and can arouse emotions. Therefore, any creative product you can see, touch and can arouse in you an emotional feeling can be said to be a visual art form. Let’s take a drawing done on a sheet of paper as an example. Since one can see the drawing with the eye and can touch it while this same drawing also arouses an emotional feeling in the person seeing it, we can say with conviction that drawing is a visual art form.
Visual arts is sometimes referred to as Plastic or solid arts because of their tangible nature. It is divided into two groups. These are Fine arts and Industrial arts.
• Fine Arts are produced to serve as a form of decoration in the interiors and exteriors of homes, offices etc. They are purposely produced to satisfy the aesthetic drive of the viewer. Owing to this, the aesthetic qualities of the works in this area is stressed or given much emphasis in their creation. Though these arts may play other roles, it should be noted that their main function is for decoration. Examples include Painting, Graphic design, Picture making and Sculpture.
• Industrial arts also known as applied arts are those that focus more on the functions or uses of the artistic product, not its aesthetic value. They are created to satisfy the utilitarian needs of the individual while carrying out duties in our everyday life. They are purely usable art forms. Examples include Textiles, Leatherwork, Ceramics, Pottery, and Jewellery.
These are perceived by the sense of sight and sense of movement (kinesthetic sense). They are performed or played. They are seen in a stream of time. Examples include music, dance and drama. An aspect of performing arts is Verbal arts which are performances communicated with words and body gestures. They include poetry, incantations, recitations etc.
There are unique characteristics that differentiate visual arts from performing arts. First, let us discuss that of visual arts.
1. These are art that appeals to our sense of sight and can also be felt by our sense of touch.
2. Visual art is made.
3. Examples are painting, sculpture, textiles etc.
4. It can be seen and felt thus making it tangible.
5. It is not limited by time.
On the other hand, these are the distinct features of performing arts.
1. These are art forms perceived by our kinesthetic sense and sense of touch.
2. Performing art is performed /played.
3. Examples are music, dance, drama, poetry etc.
4. It cannot be touched, thus making it intangible.
5. It can be seen in streams of time.