* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
Putting aside Steven’s references to God, I enjoy this quote. Give us what you’ve got, indeed!
Are you a born writer? Were you put on earth to be a painter, a scientist, an apostle of peace? In the end the question can only be answered by action.
Do it or don’t do it.
It may help to think of it this way. If you were meant to cure cancer or write a symphony or crack cold fusion and you don’t do it, you not only hurt yourself, even destroy yourself, you hurt your children. You hurt me. You hurt the planet.
You shame the angels who watch over you and you spite the Almighty, who created you and only you with your unique gifts, for the sole purpose of nudging the human race one millimeter farther along its path back to God.
Creative work is not a selfish act or a bid for attention on the part of the actor. It’s a gift to the world and every being in it. Don’t cheat us of your contribution. Give us what you’ve got.
Steven Pressfield, The War of Art
Comments are welcome.
A: That’s an interesting question because I happen to be reading The War of Art by Steven Pressfield and this morning I saw this:
You know, Hitler wanted to be an artist. At eighteen he took his inheritance, seven hundred kronen, and moved to Vienna to live and study. He applied to the Academy of Fine Arts and later to the school of architecture. Ever see one of his paintings? Neither have I. Resistance beat him. Call it overstatement but I’ll say it anyway: it was easier for Hitler to start World War II than it was for him to face a blank square of canvas.
I’ve never understood this fear of “the blank canvas” because I am always excited about beginning a new painting. When you think about it, every professional artist can say, “In the history of the planet no one has ever made what I am about to make!” Once again I am looking at something new on my easel, even if it is only a blank 40” x 60” piece of sandpaper clipped to a slightly larger piece of foam core. Unlike artists who are paralyzed before “a blank canvas,” I am energized by the imagined possibilities of all that empty space! I spend up to three months on a painting so this experience of looking at a blank piece of paper on my easel happens four or five times a year at most. Excluding travel to remote places, which is essential to my work and endlessly fascinating, the first day I get to spend blocking in a new painting is the most exhilarating part of my whole creative process. This is art-making at its freest! I select the pastel colors quickly, without thinking about them, first imagining them, then feeling, looking, and reacting intuitively to what I’ve done, always correcting and trying to make the painting look better.
Comments are welcome.