Thursday, January 30, 2014

"Dance is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff of which it is made."-- Ted Shawn

Unless you count living. Living is an art if it's done with intention. Bringing presence, beauty, and intensity to whatever you do makes you an artist every moment you're alive.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

"Of all lies, art is the least untrue."--Gustave Flaubert

We're, all of us, trying to find a level of truth.  I don't mean "facts", I mean that feeling you get when you know that you are completely yourself: relaxed, refreshed, and totally at peace.
It's not about the "right/wrong" of life, it's more about the right/wrong of YOU.
Art is a way to discover that place where you feel completely whole.  Art is the way to communicate that wholeness, the knowledge  that you are not alone and that you are exactly enough in and of yourself.
It is the lie that is least untrue, because we all have to find this out for ourselves--but art points us in the right direction.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

"If you do not breathe through writing, if you do not cry out in writing, or sing in writing, then don't write, because our culture has no use for it."-- Anais Nin

I'm right there with Anais.  She demands that the act of creation elicit feelings of aliveness in the artist because only work done with energy and intensity can communicate those feelings to others.
I'm reminded of a story I heard once about an artist and his client.  The client admired one of the artist's paintings but the artist loved that piece so much he refused to sell it at any price.
"I can make you a copy." he offered.
The client agreed, but when he returned to the studio some weeks later and saw the new painting he was disappointed.
"I don't know what it is", he said, "for even though this painting is identical to the original in every way, it lacks something. It's just not as good."
"There's a reason for that." explained the artist. "This painting is a copy, the original is art."

Monday, January 27, 2014

"Art is the only way to run away without leaving home."-- Twyla Tharp

This quote by Twyla brought one of Rumi's poems to mind:

"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass
the world is too full to talk about."

That's the place in which art happens.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

"Art is made to disturb, science reassures."-- Georges Braque

I guess exceptions prove Georges rule, except when they don't.
Matisse used to say he wanted his paintings to feel as comfortable as an easy chair, and nothing soothes the soul as beautifully as a lovely piece of music.  Sure there are works of art that are disturbing, but that's not art's main job, and the job of science doesn't, in every case, do much to reassure us.  Heard of the atomic bomb?
I'd say both can, and do in many cases, do both.

Friday, January 24, 2014

"Your talent is your art. It is not to be taken for granted."-- Paula Abdul

There is something spiritual about a talent.  It's not skill.  Skill is mastered by practice.  Talent seems to come through the artist almost without the conscious intention of him or her.  Sometimes people who are talented in whatever field disregard it's importance.  They think that if it's easy for them , it's easy for everyone.
Not true.
Your talent is your art, no matter if it's the art of housekeeping, carpentry, gardening, childcare, coaching, playing, etc. etc.  Embrace your talent, that thing you love to do, and recognize your inner artist!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art."-- Miguel Angel Ruiz

What is your art? What makes you feel alive? What is your truth and how do you tell it? Do you know that your unique perspective is what's missing from our lives? How can we find true wholeness or holiness without factoring in your contribution? How can you?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

"Art is a collaboration between God and the artist, and the less the artist does the better."-- Andre Gide

The magic of inspiration is what charms any work of art.  This is what I think Andre means when he talks about the "collaboration between God and the artist".  It's the feeling that your hands, heart, and mind are following an inclination that just opened up for you, that the ideas flowing from you are flowing THROUGH you and the resulting the message your art is conveying needs to be as pure and unsullied as possible.  In short, the ego takes a back seat, inspiration leads the way, and art is the result.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

"Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum."-- Oliver Wendell Holmes

There were times when I would have agreed with Oliver's sentiment, but then I learned that whatever gives your life pleasure, meaning, and creative joy is art.  Further, great artists are often what we might call Renaissance men and women, who discover that when you delve deeply into a discipline, you stumble upon all aspects of life.
Many art forms involve mathematics, and "doing sums" can lead to amazing architecture and stirring music, not to mention allow us the means to see and measure the grandeur of our ever-expanding universe.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

"All art is but imitation of nature."-- Lucius Annaeus Seneca

This seems like an antique concept when we see so much abstraction in art, but when you think about the many meanings of the word "nature", we see that abstract art could be said to imitate our emotional nature, conceptual art can capture our intellectual nature, and surrealism pictures the nature of the dreamworld. Still, I have to beg to differ with Seneca.  Even "realistic" paintings and photography don't just imitate the still life on the table or the tree-lined pasture land.  In an artists hands, they bring to life the true nature of the world we see in all it's beauty and complexity.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

"An artist is somebody who produces things that people don't need to have."-- Andy Warhol

This is rich!  Looking for this morning's quote I saw two placed one before the other.
The first quote I used for the title of this blog, and the second follows:
"A good painting to me has always been like a friend. It keeps me company, comforts and inspires."--Hedy Lamar
You see what I mean?  It's almost like Andy and Hedy were engaged in discussing the merits of art. He posits that art is unnecessary, and you saw her response.
Come on, now, Andy!  You're a sharp cookie and a great, weird artist and all, but there's no arguing with what Hedy Lamar has to say. We all need company, comfort, and inspiration; probably more than anything else.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

"Art is the proper task of life."-- Friedrich Nietzsche

Your art can be anything that brings you joy, that feeling of aliveness, that sense that time has passed yet you've been so engrossed that an hour felt like five minutes. How wonderful to bring those feelings to every aspect of your being, to create your life as a work of art.  On close inspection, approaching every day, every minute, like this is remarkably similar to a spiritual practice.  In fact, let's call it a spiritual practice!  We even have Mr. Anti-spiritual himself, Freidrich Nietzsche, on board.  Go thou and do likewise!

Monday, January 13, 2014

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep."--Scott Adams

I love this quote, so off-hand, so glib, and often, so true.
Art is a process of trying and failing.  You see something in your head and try to make it live on the page--or on the stage; or you feel a tune in your body and try to coax it to come through your instrument.  Often what seemed like a good idea doesn't emerge half as nicely as you conceived it, but as you play with your concept you begin to notice a part of it that really takes your imagination by surprise and you're OFF, pursuing that glowing idea that hid within the earlier impulse.
Art is not so much knowing what "mistakes" to keep, but pushing through the mistakes to find that living seed with the potential to become something beautiful.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

"A guilty conscience needs to confess. A work of art is a confession."-- Albert Camus

Really Albert? Really?  Pretty subjective comment, I'd say, when I define art as something that makes you feel more alive, more present, more YOURSELF.  Guilt is never a sign of any of those things.  It's the absence of joy, the essence of regret, and a sure sign of living in the past.

Friday, January 10, 2014

"Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time."-- Thomas Merton

For those of you who aren't artists in the traditional sense, I'm defining "art" as any activity that makes you feel alive and fully engaged.  That's why I love this quote from Thomas Merton.  I believe that when you are involved in ANY activity that "enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time" you are doing art.  Further, this should be a sign to you that whatever this activity is, it should be done as often, and with as much enthusiasm, as humanly possible; for what you've found is JOY and there can't be too much of that in the world!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

"Every artist was first an amateur."--Ralph Waldo Emerson

In martial arts there is an expression called "Beginner's Mind".  It keeps the student aware of an important fact: that no matter how much he or she knows about their practice, no matter what color their belt, there is always something more to learn.
The same is true of any art form.
Technical prowess is enhanced with practice, and professional artists are masters of technique. The trick is to go beyond technique in order to keep the work fresh. That requires an approach similar to the typical "amatuer", when the act of creation was filled with excitement and a sense of discovery.
It's great to be a master technician, but all the proficiency in the world can't generate a work of art if your heart and soul aren't in it.
I would say that, ideally, every artist must remain an amatuer, and a proud implementor of beginner's mind.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

"No great artist ever sees things as they really are. If he did, he would cease to be an artist."-- Oscar Wilde

I don't think there is such a thing as seeing things as they "really are".  I think how we individually see the world is as unique as a fingerprint.  Art provides ways of seeing each other's fingerprints, showing us a view of  the artist's unique world, one that is so personal--yet so connecting--that we all recognize a new part of ourselves when we experience the piece.
Copying someone else's work (unless it's a means of practicing a certain skill or technique) means you want to be someone else.  Creating your own work means you recognize your own value and perspective and are ready to communicate who you are to all of us.  That's art for art's sake, art for your sake, and art for all our sakes.  thank you for being an artist!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

"The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls."-- Pablo Picasso

Art provides us with a fresh look at life, a new perspective, a deeper appreciation of beauty and the ability to see beauty in even the most dire or disgusting of subjects.  It's also a fleeting glimpse into the heart of the artists themselves.
We can use these as inspiration to plunge into our own creative work: to refresh ourselves in our potential and to bring to light our very originality.
We are like snowflakes, each one of us is delightfully different and sure to melt. We know that the thing we so often hide--the one thing that make us who we are--can be exposed by the work we do.  That's a scary thought, but remember, when your work reveals the gorgeous symmetry of your snowflake spirit, even in the melting you have washed "the dust of daily life off our souls".

Saturday, January 4, 2014

"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced."-- Vincent Van Gogh

From the opposite end of the spectrum--the idea that an artist can't help but do art--is the idea that art is an act of defiance against all the negative voices in our heads that keep us from living our potential.
Images of other people's art are so easily accessible.  From Utube videos of marvelous dancers, gorgeous visual art available on uncountable websites, wonderful musical performances heard through our headphones and high-level acting seen on our Ipads, the plethora of truly fine art available to us is both inspiring and intimidating--but they all lack a major component: your vision.
Don't let yourself be stopped by spurious comparisons. Do the art you want to see in the world. No one else can.

Friday, January 3, 2014

"True art is characterized by an irresistible urge in the creative artist."-- Albert Einstein

What is "ART"? That's the issue we'll be looking at this month.  Although there seems to be standards, and art critics have lots of different ways of evaluating a work of art, in my heart of hearts I think a work of art is anything that makes you feel alive in the doing and seeing of it.  Anything.
We'll see how this pans out as I read the words of great artists and thinkers about this subject.
Oh, and Happy New Year to YOU!