Art and Soul

I once took a painting class with fellow students who had a great variety of talent levels. One gentleman was amazingly technically precise. The details were stunning, the colors vibrant and true. And each painting was lifeless. His sole purpose, it seemed, was to be technically correct and without flaw. In fact, he was constantly berating himself and denying the compliments of other students when he felt that something was less than perfect.  This left his paintings, while beautiful in composition and color, terribly flat and without that emotional draw that one gets when seeing a painting of such perfection. They were too perfect, without the soul that, in my opinion, would bring the paintings – the subject matter – to life, be it a portrait or a still life.

A while ago, I read a novel that had a character in it who, according to the author, wished but didn’t have the chops to be an artist. Even after stating that she had technical talent, the author went onto describe the character’s gift that it fell short of perfection. I hate that statement. I saw perfect technique in that fellow student’s talent. But no emotion. I watched him paint and I admired his skill level, indeed it was quite impressive. But I didn’t like any of the end results outside of the technical ability. They didn’t have a soul, a vibrancy, and yes, a degree of imperfection. And dare I even say, personality.

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes.  Art is knowing which ones to keep.  ~Scott Adams

I’m by no means saying that technically perfect technique cannot also result in breathtaking beauty that speaks of the soul of the artist, and to the soul of the viewer. I’ve seen this gift demonstrated time after time. My thoughts lean toward not requiring oneself to be perfect, but to allowing one’s imperfections to become part of the process, used, learned from, and accepted. Trust me, I’ve too many of my own to count!

Carry on.

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