Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On Making Art


Dear Friend,
Please make art.
How burdensome yet freeing it must have been as an artist’s apprentice in the Renaissance: To copy the works of masters while they were young, perfecting technique in the years before they were experienced enough with life to have much to say! How they must have chafed at being chained to the work of those who went before them, mastering the technique of their masters, mixing colors, ghost painting and getting no credit. So alright there were ups and downs. How ardently they probably wished for their own commissions! I speak from experience when I say that today we graduate from college with a degree, taste, talent, and all the freedom in the world, only to be disappointed since most of us aren’t exactly ready to be tastemakers yet, and no one is clamoring to pay us. As thinking Christians, bad art is all the more daunting. There is this added weight of desiring to make art that glorifies God and all of the questions we all have at first: “Am I supposed to be painting saints and florals here? What if cars are more my thing? Is Christian art figurative of necessity? Should I sign with an ichthus?”
So you talk and read and wrestle and you start realizing those questions are funny, and maybe even cute. Still, the weight of bringing glory to the Lord of Creation by the works of your hands is overwhelming. Anything else seems more appealing. That’s where most people stop. There is always something “practical” you could be doing instead of making.     
Don’t let your taste stifle your talent before you have experience. 
Make art anyway. Allow yourself to be an apprentice. Work on technique. Copy technique. Don’t make art in your brain, make it in your chest and arms. Make art with permission to throw it away. Draw directions out of a hat. Make art that is blatant plagiarism. Make art that isn’t planned so that you second-guess yourself out of it. Make art that lets God be in charge of his own glory, because that’s the reality anyway. Make art that you don’t burden with the task of telling you who you are. Make art that does not serve a purpose.  Make art without evaluating how it fits into your body of work or your life calling. Don’t worry about your body of work. Your calling is both art and people, just like every other artist’s calling is. They are inextricably intertwined. Love God, love people, make art. 
A day will come when you will need every technique you mastered in the course of making bad art– and bad some of it will be! Someday you will need technique to make good art and you will not have time to learn from scratch while the passion burns you. You must not wait to create until you have something profound to do and know just how to do it. If you wait, that time will never come. We must all create against the day when the alchemy of time and experience turns our dabblings and ramblings into gold that will glorify God. 
School builds taste and maybe technique. It gives you a lexicon, but the missing ingredient is time. Depending on how you calculate it you need 10,000 hours or 7 years to master anything. Unfortunately, for the majority of us no one is going to sit us in a little room with our supplies and catered meals until it gets done. We have to do it ourselves. You make good art the same way you make good friends: By showing up all the time, even when it does not suit you. Prioritizing.  

So do it. It’s hard, but let's make art, friend. 

Note: There are 4 links to other articles and talks hidden in this post! Consider them further reading. 

No comments:


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...