According to Dewey, something that starts out as natural is transformed into art only when it is willfully manipulated. That only then can what was originally spontaneous acts enrich life and the community. Like a winepress, the pressure applied by natural impulses and experiences produces a work of art. Emotion can not stand alone but must concern some fact or idea. To his thinking, there are no real emotions, such as fear, hate, or love. They exist solely in relation to another thing. Without this harnessed emotion, an object may exhibit craftsmanship, but it is not art.
If emotions are too intense, a person is overwhelmed and lacks the ability to express it. On the other
Dewey describes how, when an artist imagines where or places paint on a canvas, they are caught up in this act of ordering emotions and experiences. He maintains that what separates artists from most people is this ability to distill feelings and ideas rather than the mere technical skills of drawing, painting, or sculpting.
Dewey maintains that a culture in which art serves merely as some sort of escape from reality or decoration for everyday living is imperfect. To him, in an ideal society, art is an integral part of day-to-day life.