“That which is static and repetitive is boring. That which is dynamic and random is confusing. In between lies art.”
John A. Locke (1632-1704)
Yes, there is an artist in all of us; we just have to peel away the layers of our psyche in order to discover it. An artist is defined as one who makes art.
So what causes the artist to emerge in someone?
Time, mainly, and determination. Like fog, which creeps in on little cat’s feet, it is hard to see it at times until it is almost on top of us. I don’t think that Bruce Hornsby, for example, knew when he was a small child that he was destined to become so intimately acquainted with his keyboard.
Artists notice things and they engage life early. They most certainly follow their passions when the rest of us are more prone to ignore them.
Nancy Thomas, whose work is also well known, is another artist amongst us. Both she and Bruce have evolved, but not without a lot of hard work in the process. They both, I am sure, burned the midnight oil when the rest of us were snug in our beds.
That’s the moral to the story, really. True artistry takes patience and years of hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight. It takes grit and determination as well as an abiding need on the part of the self to soar to greater heights simply because one finds an opportunity to do that.
Creativity, craft and originality are the artist’s bedfellows
Their ability to create combines productivity with originality and the expressive qualities of imagination and newness. The artist mulls over a problem in an explosion of ideas and knowledge. Intuitive, non-hierarchical thinking is at the very core of creativity.
The artist immerses self in a cerebral world. Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), an Italian Renaissance artist, said “a man paints with his brains and not with his hands.” Henri Matisse (1869-1954) said that it would be a mistake to ascribe this kind of creative power to an inborn talent: “In art”, he says, “the genius creator is not just a gifted being, but a person who has succeeded in arranging for their appointed end, a complex of activities, of which the work is the outcome. The artist begins with a vision – a creative operation requiring an effort. Creativity takes courage,” he says.
I think it does, yes.
The dimension that defines the creative person is the space that they create within him or herself; a space that tolerates conflict and tension in extraordinary ways. For this to happen, a developing child requires an open environment, active engagement in creative pursuits of all kinds from early on, and association with artists.
Are we giving our children such experiences in life? Are our schools?
Ask yourself this
Can you stand being thought of as abnormal or eccentric? If not, your artist within will probably not surface. Do you allow yourself to daydream? To be enthusiastic and impulsive in your daily pursuits? When confronted with something novel do you allow yourself to get excited and involved with the new thing, as opposed to being suspicious and hostile towards it?
The artist relishes the taking of an idea and pushing just it a little further than the rest of us.
Good art is always ahead of its time. It often stands in opposition to established ideas and traditions, something that should give us pause.
In Greek mythology, for example, Prometheus modeled humans from clay and then taught them agriculture and all the arts of civilization. He also stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. So inventive was Prometheus that anything that is notably creative and original may be called “Promethean.” Zeus, however, wanted the human race to perish, so Prometheus’ actions were also considered disobedient. Hence “Promethean” can also mean defiance of authority or limits.
Such is the artist who is so unified as a whole that their properties cannot be derived from the simple summation of their parts. They are more than the mere sum of their parts. Like that of the bow and the lyre, the artist’s harmony consists of opposing tensions.
The greatest achievements of humankind have happened because someone, somewhere, made the effort to think outside of the box in the face of pressure to explore more conventional spaces.
Think of that the next time you strive to overly control your life. The universe flows, as you and I also should.
Art is not a fixed idea that you have before you start making it. It happens when we let go of our self-induced constraints and finally let ourselves feel.