Felt or Flat

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“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.

Who Lights The Fire??

“Nothing changes until something moves.”  Albert Einstein (from The Painter’s Keys)


Does art have the ability to move people to action?  Do actions move artists to create?  Would anything move without art?  It may depend on the art and on the audience.  Perhaps it is the artist’s role to tap into the emotions of the audience, give it voice and lead the inspiration to move.

In a blog titled Sci Art Sci, the author delves in to the question of whether art can move people not already inclined to be moved.  He describes an example of an art project designed to highlight a particular issue.  He follows his example with the statement, “…I would say this piece has the potential to raise an eyebrow, to make somebody who already cares care a little bit more, for a time.  And maybe that’s enough.”  Maybe it is.  Sometimes a fire only needs a spark.

Recalling some of the movements of the nineteenth century, art is very much a part of the history of the moment.  Eugene Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People (more here) is one example of art as part of a movement.  Did this painting inspire greater nationalism?  Or was it an illustration of the moment?   Examples abound of art and movements.  Does art provide the spark to a dry woodpile that sets it alight?  Or the other way around?  Any thoughts?

The Place of the Singing Heart

]The late Steve Jobs is much in the news these days with the movie about his life recently released.  There is no doubt that Steve Jobs changed our world.  Whatever people may think of Jobs, the person, what he did for all our lives is now unquestionable history.

Carmine Gallo wrote an excellent article in Forbes Magazine (here) about how Steve Jobs followed his heart and encouraged others to do the same.  Gallo quotes Jobs as saying, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me.  Going to bed at night saying, I’ve done something wonderful.  That’s what matters.”   Where would we be today if Jobs hadn’t followed his heart?

This doesn’t mean to say that Steve Jobs was always successful.  He had many missteps and failures along the way.  But he continued to do what made his heart sing and eventually he was immensely successful.  The key was to continue to do what made his heart sing.

We don’t have to have the success of Steve Jobs to be a success.  Being a success is doing what makes your heart sing, whatever that may be.  For artists, art makes our hearts sing.  But it is not always easy to jump through the fear and get to the place of the singing heart.  Taking those first steps can feel like you are about to leap off of Pike’s Peak with no clothes on.

In a wonderful blog, Rachel Jepson Wolf describes the first steps she took to write her blog.  Wolf states, “It was simultaneously, scary, thrilling and embarrassing to hit ‘publish’ on those first few posts.  But I did it anyway.”  She took those first steps because writing her blog makes her heart sing.  Wolf’s blog is here.

For visual artists, it may be putting those first few slashes of color on canvas or paper.  That first brushstroke is the hardest for me.  For you, it could be the first few steps of whatever your process is.  For some it is deciding what colors to mix.  Others may first start an under drawing or under painting.   Listen to what song your heart is singing and leap.

Artist Nicole Docimo has a delightful short video on listening to what makes your heart sing.  Her blog is here.


In his Steve Jobs article, Carmine Gallo has an unattributed saying that states, “Don’t die with the music still in you.”  Are we listening?

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