Creating art for your city and for your community is difficult, but worthwhile.
It takes focus, determination, as well as creativity and an openness to new ways of thinking.
But it is neither completely internal, because you have to express it physically somehow. Nor is it completely external, because it has to flow from your personhood – your thoughts, your experience.
Art is both internal and external. First internal, then external.
Francis Schaeffer once said,
“Ideas are the stock of the thought-world, and from the ideas burst forth all the external things: painting, music, buildings, the love and the hating of men in practice, and equally the results of loving God or rebellion against God, in the external world.”
Our battle starts on the inside. In the idea world.
Is this story worth telling?
What are my motivations?
What am I going to do with my thoughts?
But the ideas cannot dictate what we create. We have to make a conscious choice to take a stance. For example, if the idea you wrestle with is depression, you have to decide that depression is a negative emotion, and that any further expression must communicate that. If your love for God is the subject matter, you have to decide how it affects you and what emotions it evokes.
What is my human reaction to loving others?
Why am I so apathetic toward the poor?
What about this person is making me lose sleep?Our battle starts on the inside. In the idea world. Click To Tweet
But it is not a completely mystical or existential experience where you empty your mind and let creative energy flow through you. This is about ideas, and it has content. It requires conscious choices.
All these decisions need to take place before you ever touch a paintbrush to a canvas or before your fingers caress the fretboard.
A friend of mine once said, “The worst thing you can say to an artist is ‘You have great technique'”.
I’m still considering this, but the general idea is that as artists we want to be completely creative and not constrained by social standards.
On the other hand, millennia of art has been created by man, and there is so much that goes into the culture and thought processes that is still similar to what we face today. The struggle to understand our meaning is something all men have had, for example. So, of course, we can only build on what has already been made by others.
Then we use our technical skills – whether it is painting, drawing, dance, music,
and we create.
We engage the mind and the senses.
And we tell our stories to the people.
But we can only do it by relating to them. As artists, we communicate. The illustrations we make for people have to be based on common reference points. We don’t sing about a duck and expect that everybody knows we’re actually talking about a leaf. We relate our ideas to objects that other people can understand, regardless of how complex our symbolism can be.And we tell our stories to the people. Click To Tweet
That is how we engage the culture.
God has made us to be creative beings. We have His image within us.
We wrestle with intangible ideas and express them in substantive ways.
And this is how art is both internal and external.