* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
I’ve mentioned that Kenneth Clark, the British art historian, said you could take the four best paintings of any artist in history and destroy the rest and the artist’s reputation would still be intact. This is because in any artist’s life there are moments when everything goes right. The artist is so in tune with his or her inner vision that there is no restriction. The divine is being expressed. Each mark becomes like a note of music in a divine order.
That experience, that prayer of expression, transcends its material and becomes spiritual. The experience is overwhelming, the joys it communicates explosive.
When on another occasion we can’t find that spiritual level of experience, and so can’t repeat it, the frustration can be cruel and the separation painful. Here lies the myth of the suffering artist. It isn’t the art making when it goes well that has any suffering in it. That is the union with the beloved. It’s the loss that causes the suffering. And the problem isn’t something we can necessarily control. We are instruments, conduits for that expression. It comes through us by grace.
The idea that we “make” art is perhaps a bit misleading. The final product is at its best the result of a collaboration with spirit. We may be separated from a flow within our spirit for weeks. We continue to paint because there is no knowing at what precise moment it will return. And when it does we need our faculties alert and our skills honed. Then the poetry is everywhere.
Ian Roberts in Creative Authenticity: 16 Principles to Clarify and Deepen Your Artistic Vision
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… art is an objective pursuit with the same claim to truth as science, albeit truth of a different order. At the very least the consistency and universality of aesthetic expression throughout history and around the globe suggest that the undertaking that finds its modern formulation in the concept of art is a distinct sphere of activity with its own ontology. My belief is that what the modern West calls art is the direct outcome of a basic human drive, an inborn expressivity that is inextricably bound with the creative imagination. It is less a product of culture than a natural process manifesting through the cultural sphere. One could go so far as to argue that art must exist in order for culture to emerge in the first place.
J.F. Martel in Reclaiming Art in the Age of Artifice: A Treatise, Critique, and Call to Action
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