Archives For art

>Balancephoto © 2006 Brent Moore | more info (via: Wylio)

In this series, we’ve discussed the intersection of life and art, that art supports, and (at least attempts) to explain life. Art is indeed a support system for life.

And the key to life? Balance. Balance is the key to a successful life.

So it is with art.

We who are creative types must balance our acts of creation with appropriate sustenance. We can only give away what we possess, and to possess we must feed our souls.

We must consume to create. Unlike God, we do not possess an inexhaustible supply of creative energy.

Call it downtime, call it sabbath, call it whatever, but don’t discount the need to recharge your creative dilithium (the crystals that powered the Enterprise’s warp engines).

Because failing to do so is creative kryptonite.

You will run dry. You must replenish your stores.

I don’t know what this looks like for you, but for me it could be:

Reading a book

Watching a film

Appreciating art

Visiting a museum

Attending a play

Or (if you have them) playing with your kids (their imaginations are well nigh boundless)

There is just something so inspiring–almost mystical–in drinking from the well shared by all artists. New ideas are often birthed from this spring.

Take my advice: breath in that you may breath out.

Blessings to you as you follow your dream.

Question: what do you do to replenish your creative reservoir?

>at knife's edgephoto © 2008 Jordan Hoskins | more info (via: Wylio)

In this series, we’ve talked a lot about what art is, how it impacts, explains, and supports life. But there’s an aspect we haven’t touched on yet; namely, that art is sacrifice.

It’s the name of the game. In order to make great art, we as creators have to be willing to give something (or many somethings) up. I’ve heard both Bryan Allain and Jon Acuff talk about a “Like List.” As in a list we compile detailing the things we truly love versus the the things we merely like. Anything on the like list, if it interferes with the creation of our art, must be jettisoned. This is, I suppose, another aspect of “killing our darlings” (which we touched on last week).

The balance to this, which I’m learning, is that family (and thus family time) isn’t something that belongs on the “Like List.” If it’s there for you (as it was for me), I strongly suggest you reevaluate your priorities. Stephen King, one of the most successful writers ever, put it this way: “Life is not a support system for art, it’s the other way around.” And that was a hard fought lesson for him, as he–at the top of his game–almost lost his family.

No dream, no passion, no calling, is ever worth that. Don’t you ever dare sacrifice truly living for art’s sake. Chances are, your kids (if you have any) won’t understand you constantly giving up time with them to “pursue your dream.”

That, my friends, is the delicate balance of art: jettisoning that which keeps us from pursuing our passions, while simultaneously sacrificing the dream if it interferes with our closest relationships.

Take heart: it can be done. There is a path through these two kinds of sacrifice. It’s along the flat of a blade, but it’s there. Finding it isn’t easy, but is so worth the energy and effort expended.

God bless you as you pursue your art, and your relationships.

What have you sacrificed in pursuit of your dreams? Where have you found your balance?

>Reactable at Creators Seriesphoto © 2007 Alex Barth | more info (via: Wylio)

A few weeks ago, Jeff Goins included in a post an anecdote about Pablo Picasso, in a seeming fit of pique, destroying what appeared to be perfectly good works of art.

Good, in his manager’s estimation–but not great in Picasso’s. Perhaps it goes without saying, but this is indeed what distinguishes a good artist from a great one: the willingness to revise, the ability to distinguish the merely acceptable from the extremely sublime.

Writers have a phrase, “kill your darlings,” which implies a certain detached ruthlessness with they must view their works.
It means that if there is anything that one things is good–great, even–but which does not fit within a story, it must go. Kill your darlings.

This is what Picasso did in the example above: he killed some darlings–many labors of love, which he’d spent perhaps days, or weeks, of his life’s energy creating. Because they did not meet his exacting standards, he exercised his sovereign right to destroy them.

Taken in this light, much of the Old Testament makes a whole lot more sense to me. With God as the artist–the Master Craftsman–and the world as His canvas, the stories of genocide contained therein become a tale of an artist, The Artist, becoming dissatisfied with the life that His works have taken on. And as a creator–The Creator–He exercises His sovereign right to kill His darlings, weeping all the while.

But I digress.

The artist, writer, creative must be willing to be ruthlessly holy about rooting out the merely acceptable. Yes, at the core, there must be talent, but talent is a distant second to the self-discipline required.

Unlike God, the artist must be willing to constantly reinvent himself–daily, if needed–to create the best art.

The chaff, the fluff, must go, so the cream may rise to the top.

Kill your darlings. Your art is worth the pain.

>All art–whether written, spoken, painted, acted–is borne of a desire to create. To make something out of, essentially, nothing. Why do we creative types do this? What is our motivation?

We do it for ourselves. We do it because we have to. We create for an audience of one. (In this way, how more like God can we be? Who also created for an audience of one: Himself).

Don’t get me wrong: sharing our work is an eventual part of the process, but it can’t be the primary motivation. The artist must work for the art’s sake–work for the work’s sake–first.

It must be about challenging oneself to make the absolute best art one possibly can, else where is the “artistic integrity?”

Take, for instance, this blog: do I write for you, or for me? I write for me–because I have to. I’m compelled to exercise that part of my brain. I’m creating my art on my terms in a way that makes sense to me. I’m creating for an audience of one.

It’s not about comments, or money, but rather about love. Oh, there’s nothing wrong with being paid for our work, but if that’s the primary motivation, we’re monkeys. Love the work–the rest will take care of itself.

Trust me on this.

How about you? Who do you create for?

>masterpiecephoto © 2006 sookie | more info (via: Wylio)

Art–all the best art–is subversive. Not in weird, spooky ways necessarily (although it could be), but in the sense that it always makes demands of us to see the world, and thus ourselves, in a different light.

This applies whether we are considering recordings, written works, paintings, sculptures, etc. The artist, I would argue a “sub-creator” (to borrow Tolkien’s phrase), out of an idea creates something that didn’t previously exist. How like God! Who, into the void, spoke creation into being.

Thus it is that art represents an ideal, or even an idealized representation, presented in a physical, visual, or written medium. We who feel the burning need to thus create, do so because we have something to “say.”

And what we say–whether spoken, sung, written, painted, sculpted, or photographed–involves the subversion of an ideal, the manifestation into physical space what was once “merely” an idea. To borrow Rob Bell’s words, “this” becomes “that.”

And “that”–the work of art–always focuses with laser-like intensity on one thing: life. Or an aspect thereof. If, as I said above, all the best art is subversive, then the best art subverts itself into life. Indeed takes on a life of its own–separate and distinct from its creator.

Who has not gone back to edit, view, or listen to one’s own work(s), and not discovered something therein that was never consciously intended to be there?

That is life. (In sense, like Creation itself, which for good, or ill, has seemingly taken on a life of its own).

All the best art is about life–what it is, isn’t, could be, should be, might be. Else why, for instance, have Stephen King’s books sold so well? We buy so deeply into the macabre scenarios precisely because his characters “feel” real. They could be us. His art is thus about our life. The actual is subverted into the ideal.

It is the same with other art forms as well: the artist is inviting us in, to share their vision, and to, in turn, turn a new eye towards the world, and ourselves.

All the best art is subversive. This is that is life is art is us.