What is Art?

No one can really say what art is. Many people have tried to explain it.

One dictionary says: ‘Art is the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.’

Image credit: Stevyn Colgan

Another says: ‘Art is a highly diverse range of human activities engaged in creating visual, auditory, or performed artifacts— artworks—that express the author’s imaginative or technical skill, and are intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.

It’s easier to explain what isn’t art!

Art is made by humans. So these wonderful rocks at Rough Tor in Cornwall may look like sculpture, but they are not art. They were actually made by the wind and the rain.

Image Credit Stevyn Colgan

Many plants are beautiful and colourful but they are not art. They look that way to attract insects to pollinate them.

Animals are sometimes described as making art, but they’re not really. They’re just having some fun. Elephants can even be used as a kind of ‘paintbrush’ by their handlers!

Art is made for many reasons but usually to make us feel something, like happiness, or sadness. Sometimes it’s to make us think about a subject. This short video looks at some ideas about what art is for.


Feeling Art. What makes YOU happy? What makes YOU sad? What  makes YOU angry? What makes YOU scared? How would you tell people about these things?

Sometimes it’s hard to talk about how we feel. We might feel shy or embarrassed. Or maybe we don’t speak the same language as other people. But we can express ourselves with art.

How would you paint a picture of happy? Maybe you’d draw a happy person. Or something that makes your happy, like a kitten. Or perhaps you’d just use colours and shapes.

Image credit: Prawny on Pixabay

How would you make an artwork about what makes you angry? Iguda gets very cross about litter so he’d paint a picture of a pretty wood with plastic carrier bags tangled in their branches. Or you could use fiery colours like red and orange.

Image credit: Steve Johnson from Pexels

Now think about how you would make a piece of art about what makes you scared and then make it! You can do a drawing with pencils or crayons or felt tips. Or a painting. Or a collage. Or even a sculpture made from plasticine or recycled rubbish.

Show your friends and see if they can guess what your artwork is all about!

I wonder if they’ll be scared too?

You can go to the previous PostcardsFromArt secret pages by clicking the places below.

Art Materials