A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 282: Disturbing the Comfortable

Comfort the disturbed disturb the comfortable

Sometimes “creating dangerously” means doing things that take you to a place outside your comfort zone.

Any artist could tell you about the rut that they may be in or have been in. Artists are as prone as anyone else to falling back to the comfortable, to creating what comes easy and what is generally appreciated by the public. Certainly, there is nothing wrong with this. Pursuing and languishing in the comfortable is very human. In fact, it makes logical sense even from a strictly biological perspective. But it may be the case that artists, more than other people, get increasingly and rapidly agitated by the comfortable. To me, I believe this is something to ask yourself if you are wondering if you are a creative person: Are you happy with comfortable? Or do you find yourself, against all logic, disturbing  your own comfortable after awhile?

If you answered, “Yes… and no” to the first question and “YES!” to the second, you could have a creative spirit.

Artists play many roles in society but the one that often makes their creativity dangerous is the need/drive to shake up the comfortable. Often this need/drive comes strictly from within, the personal need/drive to shake up your own mind and soul and perspectives. When art comes of that need/drive and gets splashed up somewhere or recorded or put on film or written down or danced across a stage or spoken or screamed, it becomes the clarion call of the disturbed disturbing the comfortable. This most often is not accepted at first by society. People can label this as insane or warped or twisted. They are not altogether wrong. Art does depict the unstable, it can be warped, and it can present something twisted from the norms of reality.

But that is creativity dangerously poking holes in the status quo. That is the creative spirit haunting the nice, sterile home in the suburbs. That is art helping us all to see that there is far more to life than existing, than buying shit you don’t need, than whiling away the hours staring at screens, than forgetting that your humanity means life and action and thought and love and touch and anger and laughter and sadness and grief and delicious food and conversation and sex and contemplation and taking huge gulps of fresh air under towering trees with growing things underfoot.

It also means philosophizing like an idiot in a blog.

When artists do step out of their own comfort zone they also do another service: They comfort the disturbed. “The Scream” by Edvard Munch may seem a very disturbing piece of art on the surface, but if you are someone who has struggled with mental illness, the weight and frenzy of depression and anxiety, this painting is a balm, a comfort to your soul, a message that you are not alone in your pain.

scream-1893-16_2514

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893

Some may think all art should present the beautiful, the placid, the happy trees and peaceful landscapes. I’ll be the first to tell you that I need that from art. But I am also understanding more and more the need for the opposite. The human experience is so varied, so different from one soul to another, from one set of experiences to another, that art must reflect that truth. In fact, it is a major contribution art gives to humankind: A way to express what is often inexpressible. Art gives hope to humankind, no matter how messed up we are or how messed up we have made things.

This past week I decided it was time to shake things up for myself a bit. Focusing on creativity and my own approach to art this year has given me many opportunities to experiment and to become just a bit more bold in doing so. I went to a familiar form for me: water color pencils. I just made an abstract design on paper, not really knowing what it was going to be. When I finished I wasn’t all that happy with it so I grabbed a pen and drew a figure, purposely staying away from all the “rules” of figure drawing that are ingrained in my head. I came up with the figure in the image at the top of this blog. The hands were huge, the torso twisted and emaciated-looking, the proportions all wrong. As I looked at it a quote by Banksy came to mind, a quote I had put in this blog last week in my series of “Living Out Loud” quotes:

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”

I scribbled part of that phrase along the edge of the figure. Then I realized that I was drawing inspiration from those words I had looked up and recorded the week before. And that I was actually working at disturbing my own sense of comfortable. Tomorrow I’ll share with you the next step in my own thought process. Art is, most definitely, a process, seemingly without end, and that process led me to develop this concept more.

Stay tuned…

Comfort the disturbed disturb the comfortable

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 281: Sunday God Quote – “God of the Open Air”

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“Have found the peace of God beneath a spreading tree.”

I confess I had never heard of a poet called Henry Van Dyke. My favorite Van Dyke has always been Dick Van Dyke. Yet when I read through this poem that I share with you today I was struck by how art can speak the truth of your own soul better than you ever could. The poet may not be well-known to me but I know his spirit very well; it is a mirror of my own.

Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933) was an author, poet, statesman, pastor and friend to both Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller. He once said, “I’m not an optimist. There’s too much evil in the world and in me. Nor am I a pessimist; there is too much good in the world and in God. So I am just a meliorist, believing that He wills to make the world better, and trying to do my bit to help and wishing that it were more.”

Amen, soul brother. Here is his poem as today’s God Quote. It is lengthy but worth the time…

God of the Open Air by Henry Van Dyke
I

Thou who hast made thy dwelling fair
With flowers beneath, above with starry lights,
And set thine altars everywhere,–
On mountain heights,
In woodlands dim with many a dream,
In valleys bright with springs,
And on the curving capes of every stream:
Thou who hast taken to thyself the wings
Of morning, to abide
Upon the secret places of the sea,
And on far islands, where the tide
Visits the beauty of untrodden shores,
Waiting for worshippers to come to thee
In thy great out-of-doors!
To thee I turn, to thee I make my prayer,
God of the open air.

II

Seeking for thee, the heart of man
Lonely and longing ran,
In that first, solitary hour,
When the mysterious power
To know and love the wonder of the morn
Was breathed within him, and his soul was born;
And thou didst meet thy child,
Not in some hidden shrine,
But in the freedom of the garden wild,
And take his hand in thine,–
There all day long in Paradise he walked,
And in the cool of evening with thee talked.

III

Lost, long ago, that garden bright and pure,
Lost, that calm day too perfect to endure,
And lost the childlike love that worshipped and was sure!
For men have dulled their eyes with sin,
And dimmed the light of heaven with doubt,
And built their temple walls to shut thee in,
And framed their iron creeds to shut thee out.
But not for thee the closing of the door,
O Spirit unconfined!
Thy ways are free
As is the wandering wind,
And thou hast wooed thy children, to restore
Their fellowship with thee,
In peace of soul and simpleness of mind.

IV

Joyful the heart that, when the flood rolled by,
Leaped up to see the rainbow in the sky;
And glad the pilgrim, in the lonely night,
For whom the hills of Haran, tier on tier,
Built up a secret stairway to the height
Where stars like angel eyes were shining clear.
From mountain-peaks, in many a land and age,
Disciples of the Persian seer
Have hailed the rising sun and worshipped thee;
And wayworn followers of the Indian sage
Have found the peace of God beneath a spreading tree.

But One, but One,–ah, child most dear,
And perfect image of the Love Unseen,–
Walked every day in pastures green,
And all his life the quiet waters by,
Reading their beauty with a tranquil eye.

To him the desert was a place prepared
For weary hearts to rest;
The hillside was a temple blest;
The grassy vale a banquet-room
Where he could feed and comfort many a guest.
With him the lily shared
The vital joy that breathes itself in bloom;
And every bird that sang beside the nest
Told of the love that broods o’er every living thing.
He watched the shepherd bring
His flock at sundown to the welcome fold,
The fisherman at daybreak fling
His net across the waters gray and cold,
And all day long the patient reaper swing
His curving sickle through the harvest-gold.
So through the world the foot-path way he trod,
Drawing the air of heaven in every breath;
And in the evening sacrifice of death
Beneath the open sky he gave his soul to God.
Him will I trust, and for my Master take;
Him will I follow; and for his dear sake,
God of the open air,
To thee I make my prayer.

V

From the prison of anxious thought that greed has builded,
From the fetters that envy has wrought and pride has gilded,
From the noise of the crowded ways and the fierce confusion,
From the folly that wastes its days in a world of illusion,
(Ah, but the life is lost that frets and languishes there!)
I would escape and be free in the joy of the open air.

By the breadth of the blue that shines in silence o’er me,
By the length of the mountain-lines that stretch before me,
By the height of the cloud that sails, with rest in motion,
Over the plains and the vales to the measureless ocean,
(Oh, how the sight of the things that are great enlarges the eyes!)
Lead me out of the narrow life, to the peace of the hills
and the skies.

While the tremulous leafy haze on the woodland is spreading,
And the bloom on the meadow betrays where May has been treading;
While the birds on the branches above, and the brooks flowing under,
Are singing together of love in a world full of wonder,
(Lo, in the marvel of Springtime, dreams are changed into truth!)
Quicken my heart, and restore the beautiful hopes of youth.

By the faith that the flowers show when they bloom unbidden,
By the calm of the river’s flow to a goal that is hidden,
By the trust of the tree that clings to its deep foundation,
By the courage of wild birds’ wings on the long migration,
(Wonderful secret of peace that abides in Nature’s breast!)
Teach me how to confide, and live my life, and rest.

For the comforting warmth of the sun that my body embraces,
For the cool of the waters that run through the shadowy places,
For the balm of the breezes that brush my face with their fingers,
For the vesper-hymn of the thrush when the twilight lingers,
For the long breath, the deep breath, the breath
of a heart without care,–
I will give thanks and adore thee, God of the open air!

VI

These are the gifts I ask
Of thee, Spirit serene:
Strength for the daily task,
Courage to face the road,
Good cheer to help me bear the traveller’s load,
And, for the hours of rest that come between,
An inward joy in all things heard and seen.
These are the sins I fain
Would have thee take away:
Malice, and cold disdain,
Hot anger, sullen hate,
Scorn of the lowly, envy of the great,
And discontent that casts a shadow gray
On all the brightness of the common day.

These are the things I prize
And hold of dearest worth:
Light of the sapphire skies,
Peace of the silent hills,
Shelter of forests, comfort of the grass,
Music of birds, murmur of little rills,
Shadow of clouds that swiftly pass,
And, after showers,
The smell of flowers
And of the good brown earth,–
And best of all, along the way, friendship and mirth.

So let me keep
These treasures of the humble heart
In true possession, owning them by love;
And when at last I can no longer move
Among them freely, but must part
From the green fields and from the waters clear,
Let me not creep
Into some darkened room and hide
From all that makes the world so bright and dear;
But throw the windows wide
To welcome in the light;
And while I clasp a well-beloved hand,
Let me once more have sight
Of the deep sky and the far-smiling land,–
Then gently fall on sleep,
And breathe my body back to Nature’s care,
My spirit out to thee, God of the open air.

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 280: Saturday Life Quote – Tom Petty

tom petty

I fell for Tom Petty pretty hard back in the late ’80’s. That was back before “Bromance” was invented so I had no word for it. Mostly we just labelled things “AWWESUUM” in the ’80’s so maybe that’s how I described seeing him in concert. I had bought tickets in order to see my icon of icons, Bob Dylan, at the one and only Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. It just so happens that Dylan was touring with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers as his back-up band. However, just as he did when the Band was his back-up band, the Heartbreakers were given an entire set on their own. It was then that I was blown away by Petty the performer, the showman, the authentic rock-n-rolla who communicated in a simple, funny and friendly style that was infectious and, yes, awesome.

So much has been written in tribute to this late, great artist over the last few days. But something that struck me as so beautiful and profound was a CBC story about a Canadian Cree musician who had recorded Tom Petty’s song “Wildflowers” in the Cree language for an album of cover songs. The link to the article is below:

http://www.cbc.ca/beta/news/indigenous/tom-petty-cree-cover-1.4327630

As tribute to Charlie T. Wilbury, Jr., here is Art Napoleon and his Cree cover of “Wildflowers”. Below that, if you don’t speak Cree like me, are the lyrics to this beautiful, simple ballad from one of the most under-rated songwriters in Rock. Something tells me that Tom loved this version of his song.

Wildflowers by Tom Petty

You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
Sail away, kill off the hours
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, find you a lover
Go away somewhere all bright and new
I have seen no other
Who compares with you
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong in a boat out at sea
You belong with your love on your arm
You belong somewhere you feel free
Run away, go find a lover
Run away, let your heart be your guide
You deserve the deepest of cover
You belong in that home by and by
You belong among the wildflowers
You belong somewhere close to me
Far away from your trouble and worries
You belong somewhere you feel free
You belong somewhere you feel free

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 279: Living Out Loud, part 5

Christo, Wrapped Trees, Switzerland, 1998

Christo, Wrapped Trees, Switzerland, 1998

“Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.” – Jason Mraz

Friday has come and I’ve come to the end of my “Living Out Loud” series of posts. All week I’ve shared words and musings from lots of creative types representing many perspectives and artistic movements, genres and eras. I’ve come away from it all with an even more solid belief in art as far more than the world gives it credit for. To me, art is imbued with the ex nihilo ability of the Creator, giving us the possibility to construct creations from virtually nothing that becomes a part of the Great Something. Art speaks to the eternal in all of us and brings out all the good, bad and ugly parts of being human. Our creative impulse springs from the foundations of how we were formed from dust to begin with. And even though we are destined to return to dust, art screams that our vulnerable flesh, blood and bone is more than dust.

Art is a blast of meaning that drives away the black of meaninglessness. Therefore, I will make art.

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.” – Carrie Fisher

“The world doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” Pablo Picasso

“Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.” -Isaac Bashevis Singer

“I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.” – Robert Henri

“I do not have many things that are meaningful to me. Except my doubts and my fears. And my art.” – Chaim Potok

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the artist can not justify life or come up with a cogent reason as to why life is meaningful, but the artist can provide you with a cold glass of water on a hot day.” – Woody Allen

the-old-guitarist 1903

Pablo Picasso, The Old Guitarist, 1903

“Weirdism is definitely the cornerstone of many an artist’s career.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri

“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”
― Paul Cézanne

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
― Salvador Dalí

“When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

“Art is literacy of the heart.”
― Elliot Eisner

Antoni Gaudi, Casa Battlo, Barcelona, 1904

Antoni Gaudi, Casa Battlo, Barcelona, 1904

“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music. ”
― Joan Miró

“Art’s cruel. You can get away with murder with words. But a picture is like a window straight through to your inmost heart.”
― John Fowles

“I hope to depart in no other way than looking back with love and wistfulness and thinking, oh paintings that I would have made..”
― Vincent van Gogh

“To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart”
― Alexander Pope

bill reid raven and the first men 1980

Bill Reid, Raven and the First Men, 1980

 

“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity.”
― Dorothea Tanning

“Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea.”
― John Ciardi

“I would rather fail as an artist than succeed as anything else.”
― Robert Dowling

“Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale ’til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am an artist, my hair is rarely tamed & sometimes I sleep till noon,
My house is messy and I speak to the moon.
I care less about the materials that I share with my world and more about the passion inside myself.
I’m an artist, what more can you expect?
I am full of soul, love and all the rest.”
― Nikki Rowe

Paul Gauguin Tahitian Women on Beach, 1891

Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Women on the Beach, 1891

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 278: Living Out Loud, part 4

Jeffrey-Pine-ansel adams 1940

Ansel Adams, Jeffrey Pine, 1940

“Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it.” – Chaim Potok

If this is Thursday, this must be part four of “Living Out Loud” – Words about art, creativity, misery and good bowel movements.

“The greatest art belongs to the world. Do not be intimidated by the experts. Trust your instincts. Do not be afraid to go against what you were taught, or what you were told to see or believe. Every person, every set of eyes, has the right to the truth.” – Blue Balliett

“Only in art will the lion lie down with the lamb, and the rose grow without thorn.” – Martin Amis

“We have to recognize that the language of art, all art, is not our mother-tongue.” – Jeanette Winterson

“Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.” -Vincent Van Gogh

“The artist, and particularly the poet, is always an anarchist in the best sense of the word. He must heed only the call that arises within him from three strong voices: the voice of death, with all its foreboding, the voice of love and the voice of art.” – Federico Garcia Lorca

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Alex Colville, Horse and Train, 1954

“Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a while.” – W.B. Yeats

“I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” – Marcel Duchamp

“Basically there can be no categories such as ‘religious’ art and ‘secular’ art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore ‘religious.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – Rene Magritte

Helen-Frankenthaler-Adirondacks-1992-Image-via-wikiartorg

Helen Frankenthaler, Adirondacks, 1992

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper

“There must always be two kinds of art: escape-art, for man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep, and parable-art, that art which shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love.” – W.H. Auden

“I am an artist you know … it is my right to be odd.” – E.A. Bucchianeri

“An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he – for some reason – thinks it would be a good idea to give them.” – Andy Warhol

“Art is a process, not a product.” – MaryAnn F. Kohl

Banksy, Don't Forget Your Scarf punk Graffitti

Banksy, Don’t Forget Your Scarf Punk Graffiti

“All real works of art look as though they were done in joy.” – Robert Henri

“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.” – Edward Weston

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.” – Pablo Picasso

“To create art with all the passion in one’s soul is to live art with all the beauty in one’s heart.” – Aberjhani

“Art is not a thing; it is a way. ” – Elbert Hubbard

“The recipe for great art has always been misery and a good bowel movement.” – Don Roff

Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, c.1663

Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, c.1663

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 277: Living Out Loud, part 3

Head of an Old Man in a Cap *oil on panel  *24.3 x 20.3 cm  *ca. 1630

Rembrandt, Head of an Old Man in a Cap, c.1630

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Today is part three of “Living Out Loud”, a series of quotes by creative people about art, creativity, and the joy and madness it brings, seemingly in equal measure.

“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” – Jerzy Kosinski

“Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“One’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes.” – Andrew Wyeth

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” – Winston Churchill

Claude_Monet_-_The_Houses_of_Parliament,_Sunset 1903

Claude Monet, The Houses of Parliament, Sunset, 1903

“All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn’t your pet — it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.” – Joss Whedon

“creativity keeps the world alive, yet, everyday we are asked to be ashamed of honoring it, wanting to live our lives as artists. i’ve carried the shame of being a ‘creative’ since i came to the planet; have been asked to be something different, more, less my whole life. thank spirit, my wisdom is deeper than my shame, and i listened to who i was. i want to say to all the creatives who have been taught to believe who you are is not enough for this world, taught that a life of art will amount to nothing, know that who we are, and what we do is life. when we create, we are creating the world. remember this, and commit.” – Nayyirah Waheed

“Works of art, in my opinion, are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order, and that is why, though I don’t believe that only art matters, I do believe in Art for Art’s sake.” – E.M. Forster

“All art is but dirtying the paper delicately.” – John Ruskin

Mural-1943-Jackson-Pollock

Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943

“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” – Robert Henri

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” – D.W. Winnicott

“If we can’t, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.” – Barbara Kingsolver

“In art as in love, instinct is enough. ” – Anatole France

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way… things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keefe

georges rouault crucifixion 1920

Georges Rouault, Crucifixion, 1920

“Every true artist is at war with the world.” – Anthony Kiedis

“Blessed are the weird people:
poets, misfits, writers
mystics, painters, troubadours
for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.” – Jacob Nordby

“Art is either revolution or plagiarism.” – Paul Gauguin

“A fine work of art – music, dance, painting, story – has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place.” – Robert McKee

“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it ‘creative observation.’ Creative viewing.” – William S. Burroughs

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. ” – Stephan Sondheim

Christinas_World-Andrew Wyeth 1948

Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 276: Living Out Loud, part 2

Giotto Lamentation of Christ c.1305

Giotto, Lamentation of Christ, c..1305

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Today is part two of my “Living Out Loud” series: Quotes from creatives about creativity, art and inspiration, sound and fury, sturm und drang.

“Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.” –Flannery O’Connor

“Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.” – Ossie Davis

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Art is what you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol

“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” – G.K. Chesterton

wassily kandisky, color study squares with concentric circles 1913

Wassily Kandisky, Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Banksy

“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.” – Banksy

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” – Ansel Adams

 “All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” – James Baldwin

“The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.” – Walt Whitman

Norval-Morrisseau-HR-Androgeny - 1983

Norval Morrisseau, Androgyny, 1983

 “I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.” – W. Somerset Maugham

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” – Albert Camus

 “All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.” – Roman Payne

andre derain mountains at Collioure 1905

Andre Derain, Mountains at Collioure, 1905

 “Art is the reason I get up in the morning, but the definition ends there. It doesn’t seem fair that I’m living for something I can’t even define.” – Ani DiFranco

“It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious.” – John Irving

“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.” – Pope John Paul II

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” – Claude Monet

“Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” – Victor Pinchuk

Sarah in Green Bonnet Mary Cassatt 1901

Mary Cassatt, Sarah in Green Bonnet, 1901

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 275: Living Out Loud, part 1

the-sower-sower-with-setting-sun-1888

Vincent Van Gogh, The Sower, 1888

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” – Emile Zola

I made the mistake this past weekend of looking up quotes about art. After at least two hours of reading through them and cutting and pasting them for possible blog use I realized… Holy Hannah! That’s a lot of quotes about art! I also realized how inspirational and challenging, funny and baffling they were. It was a metaphysical journey through so many artists’ minds and souls. Frankly, it was a long, strange trip but was also totally awesome. So, as there are so many quotes that were so deserving to be repeated, I decided to take this week of blog posts to do so.

Starting today is part 1 of a “Living Out Loud” series of quotes about art, creativity, artists, etc. I have interspersed some of my favorite works of art in with the quotes because that is a bit of a metaphysical journey for you through my own mind and soul. I hope these words are as transformational and motivational for you as they were for me.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” – Hugh MacLeod

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” – Vincent Van Gogh

sorrow-of-the-king matisse 1952

Henri Matisse, Sorrow of the King, 1952

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton

“Paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” – Oscar Wilde

“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.” – Woody Allen

lubicon-alex-janvier 1988

Alex Janvier, Lubicon, 1988

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas

“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.” – Oscar Wilde

“The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.” – Lester Bangs

“One eye sees, the other feels.” – Paul Klee

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Shootings on Third of May 1808 Francisco de Goya

Francisco de Goya, Shootings on Third of May, 1808

 “A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.” – Dylan Thomas

“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” – Anton Chekhov

“If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?” – Alice Walker

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” -Aristotle

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” – Francis of Assisi

black mesa landscape o'keefe 1930

Georgia O’Keefe, Black Mesa Landscape, 1930

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 274: Sunday God Quote – James Weldon Johnson

JamesWeldonJohnson

“Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!”

James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) was an American author, diplomat, songwriter and activist. He is most famous for leading the NAACP and being at the forefront of the Harlem Renaissance. In 1934 he became the first African-American to be hired as a professor at New York University.

For today’s God Quote I’ve chose to share his poem about Creation – It resonates with both the mythical quality of great storytelling and the earthy poignancy of the negro spiritual. I find it to be one of the most beautiful and enjoyable takes on the Creation account anyone has ever written. Enjoy.

The Creation

And God stepped out on space,
And he looked around and said:
I’m lonely–
I’ll make me a world.

And far as the eye of God could see
Darkness covered everything,
Blacker than a hundred midnights
Down in a cypress swamp.

Then God smiled,
And the light broke,
And the darkness rolled up on one side,
And the light stood shining on the other,
And God said: That’s good!

Then God reached out and took the light in his hands,
And God rolled the light around in his hands
Until he made the sun;
And he set that sun a-blazing in the heavens.
And the light that was left from making the sun
God gathered it up in a shining ball
And flung it against the darkness,
Spangling the night with the moon and stars.
Then down between
The darkness and the light
He hurled the world;
And God said: That’s good!

Then God himself stepped down–
And the sun was on his right hand,
And the moon was on his left;
The stars were clustered about his head,
And the earth was under his feet.
And God walked, and where he trod
His footsteps hollowed the valleys out
And bulged the mountains up.

Then he stopped and looked and saw
That the earth was hot and barren.
So God stepped over to the edge of the world
And he spat out the seven seas–
He batted his eyes, and the lightnings flashed–
He clapped his hands, and the thunders rolled–
And the waters above the earth came down,
The cooling waters came down.

Then the green grass sprouted,
And the little red flowers blossomed,
The pine tree pointed his finger to the sky,
And the oak spread out his arms,
The lakes cuddled down in the hollows of the ground,
And the rivers ran down to the sea;
And God smiled again,
And the rainbow appeared,
And curled itself around his shoulder.

Then God raised his arm and he waved his hand
Over the sea and over the land,
And he said: Bring forth! Bring forth!
And quicker than God could drop his hand,
Fishes and fowls
And beasts and birds
Swam the rivers and the seas,
Roamed the forests and the woods,
And split the air with their wings.
And God said: That’s good!

Then God walked around,
And God looked around
On all that he had made.
He looked at his sun,
And he looked at his moon,
And he looked at his little stars;
He looked on his world
With all its living things,
And God said: I’m lonely still.

Then God sat down–
On the side of a hill where he could think;
By a deep, wide river he sat down;
With his head in his hands,
God thought and thought,
Till he thought: I’ll make me a man!

Up from the bed of the river
God scooped the clay;
And by the bank of the river
He kneeled him down;
And there the great God Almighty
Who lit the sun and fixed it in the sky,
Who flung the stars to the most far corner of the night,
Who rounded the earth in the middle of his hand;
This great God,
Like a mammy bending over her baby,
Kneeled down in the dust
Toiling over a lump of clay
Till he shaped it in is his own image;

Then into it he blew the breath of life,
And man became a living soul.
Amen.Amen.

  • James Weldon Johnson

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 273: Saturday Life Quotes – Groucho

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“Blessed are the cracked, for they shall let in the light.”

Groucho Marx (born Julius Henry Marx, 1890-1977) was a genius in the art of comedy, wordplay and the classic one-liner. He was the inspiration for Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce and a sort of “patron saint” of all comics. Groucho Marx glasses remain a symbol of subversive silliness and despite being a funnyman of long ago his words still resonate with contemporary irony and satire.

For today’s Saturday Life Quotes, I give you Groucho Marx, the man who once said, “Humor is reason gone mad”. Thank God for his brand of unreasonable madness!

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.”

“From the moment I picked up your book until I put it down, I was convulsed with laughter. Some day I intend reading it.”

“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can never live long enough to make them all yourself.”

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

“Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.”

“Those are my principles, and if you don’t like them…well I have others.”

“If you’re not having fun, you’re doing something wrong.”

“Only one man in a thousand is a leader of men — the other 999 follow women.”

“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”

“While money can’t buy happiness, it certainly lets you choose your own form of misery.”

“Anyone who says he can see through women is missing a lot.”

“I intend to live forever, or die trying.”

“Life is a whim of several billion cells to be you for a while”

“Time wounds all heels.”

“Marriage is a wonderful institution…but who wants to live in an institution?”

“A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.”

“If you find it hard to laugh at yourself, I would be happy to do it for you.”

“My plans are still in embryo, a town on the edge of wishful thinking.”

“All people are born alike… except Republicans and Democrats.”

“Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”