Realizing all art came from a Creator much bigger than us little humans forced me to look at art in a way I never had before.
The title of a recent workshop I taught spurred me to do some soul searching. More and more information has come out lately about art’s benefit to the soul. All the information now has really been around for years. Arguably, it can be said it all started with Julian Cameron‘s ground breaking book, “The Artist’s Way.” I first read and worked the book over 20 years ago and to say it changed my life is putting it mildly. Realizing all art came from a Creator much bigger than us little humans forced me to look at art in a way I never had before.
You would think that once the light goes on and you realize that all art is much more spiritual than it is cerebral, you could sit back and let the Spirit takeover. “Bingo” you are creating on a higher level and don’t have to think any more. It is actually the opposite. You think more, not less. How can that be, you ask? A wrestling begins between your two warring factions, your heart and your brain. That battle must be fought meaning the ability to sit back and let Spirit takeover doesn’t happen naturally.
For many of us, the reality that art comes from the heart has been known for some time. To allow the Spirit to takeover is to allow the heart to open up. The heart is a lot more vulnerable than the brain. The heart is easily wounded and the artist’s heart even more so. Our soul is contained in the heart. For the soul of the heart to be set free, trust in the Spirit must begin. Trust begins in baby steps.
“The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched, but must be felt with the heart.” Helen Keller (from Skinnyartist)
If a painting, a piece of music, a poem, a story, a performance, a photograph is so beautiful it touches the heart, it is considered a great work of art. That description is the ultimate validation for the creator of the piece. How does an artist get to the place of creating works capable of touching the heart of the onlooker, reader, listener? As Helen Keller says, it must be felt with the heart. The act of making art must be approached from the goal of creating purely from the feelings of the heart.
Marla Hoover at The Arkansas Artist says, “I always try to paint what is in my heart at the time and I see so many ideas that I can’t seem to get them all out fast enough.” Ideas come from the inner artist, the one who resides in the heart. Ideas from the heart are felt rather than reasoned. Hoover goes on to describe the difficulty of painting what some one else has suggested. Some one else’s suggestion is coming from that person’s heart, not the artist’s heart. Drawing that distinction can be problematic.
Taking the time to listen and to feel the heart before creating art, can open the door to the flood of ideas. It doesn’t necessarily mean another person’s suggestion can’t be felt, it simply means it’s best for the artist to be sure his/her own heart is engaged in the process, as well. Art without the engagement of the heart is likely to lack the energy of feeling, leaving the artwork on the flat side. There’s not much that is beautiful in flat feeling-less art.
Monet’s gardens at Giverny were where his heart and his art were deeply felt. For more on Monet’s gardens and his life at Giverny follow the link here.
“Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.” Leonardo da Vinci
What is political art and what isn’t? The Tate’s new exhibition, “Art Turning Left” exhibits the art of left-leaning political artists like the Guerrilla Girls. Undoubtedly, the Guerrrilla Girls made a splash with their bold political statements turning up in odd and surprising places but always with a point to be made. And they made no bones about the purpose of their art. The Guerrilla Girls wanted to be heard and they were screaming in the face of as many people as possible.
The Tate’s exhibit would tend to surmise that political art was entirely a product of the left. The truth is both right and left have always used art as a means of getting their message out. Hitler was to known to frequently use art for his political purpose. But is it art or is it propaganda? Do artists become artists to make political statements or to pull something out of the heart to bring enlightenment to the world?
The answer would seem to lie in the designation of importance of either goal. Is my art about informing others of a political injustice? Or is my art about expressing something in my heart that must get out for others to see? Creating art solely to make a point would seem to be the dividing line. If you did not have a point to make politically or socially, would you be making art? The fact that what is in the artist’s heart may be expressed as a political message is a different thing than making a judgment to use art as the vehicle for getting a political statement into the public arena. One is a calculated brain decision. The other is the expression of the heart. The difficulty for the viewer is to tell which is which. The feelings of the heart can override the calculations of the brain as long as the ears are listening.
For an entertaining look at art purely for political gain go to the blog: Standing Ovation, Seated.
“To me, art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.” Mark Rothko (from SusieGadea.com)
Capturing what is in the heart and splattering it all over canvas or paper is what artists do. Facing what others say about that heart is what happens with every work of art placed into the public arena. The risk of acceptance or rejection of what’s in the heart, what comes from a place that in most other people is only rarely exposed, is the daily life of an artist. Some are more able to handle the daily unveiling than others.
For many artists, facing the big “F” word is a major challenge. Fear! And with fear comes the tag, “of failure.” These two big “F” words pack a major punch. What if no one likes my art? What if no one wants my art? Why am I risking my heart if no one wants to see what’s in there? Maybe its better to just keep it hidden. That’s the safe thing to do. Keep it all inside. Don’t let it out to play. That way it can’t get hurt. It stays safe, tucked away deep inside where the outside world can’t get to it.
In her blog, “I paint, I write” Pamela Hodges says, “The little girl wants an A on her paper. A shiny star on top of the math page for not getting any problems wrong.” That little girl or boy is inside the heart of us all. We go into protection mode to shield the child from hurt. So we erect the barriers. For people whose life work does not require the continual heart exposure this is no problem. For the artist, it can be a daily problem.
Dr. Bob Tobin, in his blog, states, “artists show the courage that many of us could only begin to imagine.” This daily pumping out of what’s inside is a courageous undertaking. Pamela Hodges states, “Creating takes courage. Courage to stand out and be seen. Courage to risk failure, and to risk success.” To do less is to give in to the big “F” word. Do we allow that to happen?
No! The courage to conquer the big “F” comes from the same source as the art. Courage comes from the heart. As the art is allowed to flow from the heart, so must the courage. To open to one, is to open to the other. Like the Cowardly Lion in the Wizard of Oz, it was there all the time. It just has to be acknowledged and out it comes. All the Lion lacked was a medal, an award of courage. Go to the studio and make a medal. You’ve earned it! Then stand aside and allow the courage to flow along with the art as you allow the heart to come out from behind the safety barricades, and step into the sun.