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As no man is born an artist, so
no man is born an angler…
Angling may be said to be so like the mathematics,
That it can never be fully learnt.
Izaak Walton, The Compleat
April is a volatile mix of sleet,
wind, warm days followed by cold rain, storms, and flooding,
that put the fish down deep. Friday another killer tornado swept
through Middle Tennessee, the third since 2006. We have been
under four tornado watches in the past week and, with our recent
experience, we take them very seriously indeed.
But our fruit trees escaped late
freeze and their glorious bloom promises fruit to test the
strength of their limbs. Their roots have been quietly reaching
all winter to nourish their expanding maturity and fruitfulness.
It takes time.
So does becoming an artist. We do
not begin with spattered abstractions, but with a desire to
represent something we see. The great artists of Europe were
apprenticed as children; ours children draw as they like,
cartoons, flowers, and football players and take art as an
elective. Finally, some begin to paint.
Which of us who call ourselves
artists has not heard the plaint, if only I had the talent
you do. We know it to be a false compliment. We know
that anyone who is willing to spend the time can draw, if not a
likeness, at least a competent representation of a face, that
object most observed and adored in our world. A tree is an
uncomplaining model and will reward patience and adoration of
its seasons with splendor.
To become an artist requires Time,
Training, Talent, and Creativity. We all have Time; how we spend
it is our passion. Commitment of some time each day to art -
whether painting, music, photography, or writing - will furnish
the Training required of an artist. From regular sacrifice of
Time comes Training, and from Training springs Talent.
As I write this my five-year-old
granddaughter appears with an Easter gift for her granddad. The
memory of her trip to the beach last week is still vibrant. She
has celebrated it with a painting which she explains to me.
The sandy beach at the bottom is
covered with a layer of seashells washed up by the tide,
represented by the blue water. Above it a seabird soars and the
mighty sun fills the picture with its warm rays. Turn it as you
will, it is a swirling painting; the sun, surf, tides and
screaming birds dizzy us, but the colors are true and a child’s
impression of a day at the beach lives forever, like the maiden
on Keat’s Grecian Urn.
Then a mighty wave surges, startles
more seabirds into flight, and they, the beach and a rainbow
form a round frame, the spray refracting the sunlight into an
array of bright color. Her world is in motion. Her painting is
realistic and abstract, pure passion, and, if yet untrained,
talented, and creative.
Creativity, like Grace, cannot be
earned; it is given. It is the gift of being completely open to
all the world around us and to whatever our mind and our loved
ones offer us. It is seeing what others walk past without
noticing. A child given it is most fortunate. Those who have it
may feel it, yet never express it, for lack of an artistic
vocabulary – a vocabulary that is learned through commitment of
Time to Training until Talent frees the self to express what is
within. That indeed is when passion may find its form in
expression in creating beauty. To paraphrase Wordsworth, Art
is passion recollected in tranquility.
on Creativity – an illustrated slide lecture At
Monthaven Art Society, Hendersonville, Sunday April 26th at 1:30
Fall Into Art – Third Annual
Art Show benefiting Hendersonville High School’s Academic and Arts
Program, October 2-4, 2009
View the prospectus for our
The Founding of the Cumberland Settlements. (This is a PDF
file and you will need Adobe Reader to open it. Most of you
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can download it free here)
It is now available for preorder at
The Founding of the Cumberland