What do you think artists do?
Paint at an easel? Chisel a block of marble?
My life as an artist hovers around three basic principles to which I have found art historians and other artists also refer. Thinking on these will give guidance to the artist and help everyone appreciate works of art more profoundly. I hope they will also assist in knowing better how to support artists.
1. The Inspiration
This has to do with the interior life of the artist. Of course this is a life-long growth process, but there comes a level of maturity at which the artist is capable of original expression, as opposed to mimicking other art, or simply documenting something in the world.
It is often manifested as a child-likeness reminiscent of the life before we become inhibited by restrictions and demands of “growing up.”
This is more than a mastery of their medium, or technique. It shows that they are free to pull expressions from a rich, spiritual thought life.
What Makes It Important
Artists need to avail themselves of environments, things, experiences and people which form their inner person to handle ideas beyond the surface, or mundane. They need to be able to dig deep within themselves to see that which others do not, and to reveal meaning beyond the obvious.
This is why the artist is often seen as a prophet. Consider the performances, poetry and visual arts of Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Isaiah. Think of an artist approaching a canvas, block of marble, or blank page in this capacity.
Supporting the Inspiration Stage
People can support artists in this stage by providing them time, space and freedom to seek and grapple with inspiration. Be tolerant of odd behaviors and being away in their own thoughts, for these are like the tips of icebergs indicating there is something huge going on below.
And, lest I overlook the obvious, artists have to pay for the time, space and living needed to allow inspiration to flourish. There are lots of ways to contribute to their support including, buying their art, commissioning a work from them, hiring them for jobs which leave time and space to do their own work, bartering with them instead of asking for cash, promoting them for paying opportunities of others … and just plain giving them a donation.
The Unseen Will Emerge
Eventually the inspiration will have to manifest in the materials of the artist. In the next post we will discuss the second stage of art, execution.