In art, an artist and any concrete attempt to measure their skill can rest on basically three concepts: Creativity, Technique, and Composition.
Creativity: This is the element that scares most people away. However, it tends to be the glimmer of hope that keeps even the most fledgling artist persevering through the hate. For if people saw they could hold fire and shape it to their will, they would be entranced, at least enough to continue even through the burn. They would yearn to live for and give their livers daily for such a gift. Creativity is the skill to see life, replicate life, and imbue a representation of life into, through and from a media, telling a story and letting life be a little more. It is within creativity’s grasp, one realizes being crazy is not particularly a bad thing. For it can be the inspiration from which the mind looking forward with forethought, can hue all manner of things from the depths of their imagination to reveal beauty to the mortal lands of reality.
So from the hidden celestial heights, close to his breast, an artist bears a hollowed reed holding an idea sparking. Hard the heart beats, for the artist runs, his purpose being pursued, haunted by a sense of the divine on his heels. For this spark, this possibility held dear, snatched from the clouds, has been occluded high, held there to limp, though epic, hidden low key. But astride mortal limbs, this idea freed, may burn, rage, incinerate all that would oppose, igniting the night with glories rising higher than pyre flaming into inferno. Such a power did not cost an arm and leg, just a liver, yet gave life such a luster worth living.
For creativity is the fire that still lights an artist’s imagination.
Technique: The objective one, the learned one, the most artificial because it can be artifaced, made and created in any heart willing to learn and put in the work, the hours to struggle and strive, to climb the mountain. For there is a mountain–yet you in your feebleness can ascend it. It will be hard but try, persevere and be. Technique is the artist’s knowledge of the media they are trying to work in–the media’s strengths and weaknesses, its limits and unique special abilities.
Here is where the jargon resides, abstract concepts congregate, and definitions categorize, trying to sterilely conceptualize life and the action of representing it, to a science known, words understood, themes analyzed, and life snapped and shot.
See, hear the phoenix resting in ashes, never to rise again, yet we now know how it would have flapped its wings. We’ve dissected it, we know all its theory, how hypothetically it could fly, yet there it lays, technically known and totally dead. Technique is the realm of academics, critics, haters and know it alls. But it remains a necessary utility, for a carver must know how to hold a chisel, the painter the brush, the photographer to point the lens, the tubist to understand the silence seen in noted rest, the poet to enjamb elusive euphemisms, and digital artist to guide that mouse and ctrl-Z with speed and deftness.
So learn the techniques of media you want to use.
Composition: So how to put this–simply why modernity sucks, your toddler is not the next Picasso, and your Emperor is stark naked in the street though all the sensible adults are loving the lace, specifically how it blows in the breeze, long, fluttery and dangling. Get your mind out of the gutter and go see your priest. Notice the inlay in the confession booth–after all there is not much else to see. Observe how the patterns are intricately laid, how the pattern repeats itself rhythmically, and how there at least seems to be a sense of order.
For anyone’s two year old can throw up over a canvas, burp and screech attention to their direction, and design a new adult fashion line using your scissors, your sharpies and your skirts, especially the really cute one, now cut one, the one that cost you some. God has blessed everybody with the skill to paint a canvas blue then mark it with a bold white line. Yes, the emperor does strut boldly and must, for a breeze threatens to blow blue his face. Composition transcends creativity for it is the question of narrative as it asks how does your choice of color, themes, and ideas tell a story. How does your work show a perspective on life, speak to the audience by the arrangement of the piece’s elements and decisions made to put together the image before the beholder’s eye. Composition ascends from the objectiveness of Technique because it lives and bares a soul, going beyond the textbook.
Anyone can read words, memorize concepts, reflect ideas yet it is a different skill to string words into sentences, to conceive concepts beyond the parental chromosomes, and illustrate ideas concisely in a logical understandable way. You need to know when to add, when to subtract, and realize when it is just enough to lock in gold. Then you will actually command respect and not just appear to, you there buff in the wind. Go see the priest, be clothed in the composition of the creator’s care. For not one hair falls astray if He hath not deemed it to so quit throwing paint at the canvas and claiming to be inspired. Gravity and entropy paint with only one brush and it is highly synonymous to a grim reaper’s scythe.
So compose yourself, prepare, make, and be.
Now this artistic triangle is more of a suggestion, a trove to be raided where some thoughts on life are held. So explorer esteemed, will you carry from under the grim bleakness of the mundane, this torch offered to the world beyond? For art is not just skill subtle, creativity is not craziness capriciously cute, technique is not just craft cunning as composition is not just arrangements appearing–no, art is life often held within, in the ground beneath mortal pedantry. However, it was not meant to just stay there. Such a glory essential to earth was meant to be shared, freed, displayed, explored and contemplated so people would answer more than “eh” when thinking about their existence.
Creativity, Technique, Composition, these three tenants residing in art’s halls help. For as they commune as a triangle, they frame the artistic endeavor, structure our work with points graspable, and present an angle at which even the feeblest, faintest, finite spark of an idea can try to catch the wettest of wood, warm the coldest of hearts, and be a flame fighting, a fire inspiring, a star shining for others to perceive. We are not all elegantly equipped equilateral nor were we meant to be. Some will stand tall on two legs while withering in width, others will awkwardly strut and jut out with rods of differing lengths, yet make all the points connect. Right, cute and obtuse we may seem–still let the haters relate and critics canter, but artists let us try, and if at first we don’t succeed, let us through all severances pursuing, bear the sparks close to our chest,
Run, learn our craft’s technical limits,
Roll, clothe our ideas in forms chosen,
Stroll, for even as earth surrenders to winter’s descent, the sun yet rises.
For brilliance however dim must not be hidden and the land must not be left to wither to weather’s whims. The sun still shines and we artists should imbue this living sphere beyond the mundaneness of “eh”
Yet the fourth shadow concept exists and persist–the Artistic Angst: