An Artist’s Highest Obligation

It is interesting to investigate how we make creative decisions, and how so many of those decisions are based on our perceptions of, or fantasies about, how others will feel toward our work. Perhaps this is quite normal for social beings used to negotiating a world of other social beings.

Sunset Reflection by John Hulsey, photograph.
Sunset Reflection by John Hulsey, photograph.

As a society, we give each other permission to live largely as we choose as long as we stay within a system of defined laws. We also give silent individual permissions countless times throughout a day for other people’s personal quirks and pursuits, and in many cases forgive minor trespasses upon what we might consider our turf. But are we giving enough permission to ourselves to create as we would choose?

When it comes to drawing or painting a work of art that we intend to show others, it is only natural to subconsciously consider the “other”–the audience–as we develop our ideas. But this tendency can also be a hindrance to our creativity and growth and to our process of developing a unique voice. Likewise, successfully selling artwork in galleries for some years can leave an artist feeling trapped by that very success or the art techniques he or she uses and unable to explore new creative directions.

How can we achieve the freedom to go where our creative imaginings take us? It is a matter of giving ourselves permission–not to dream, which is part and parcel of being a creative person–but to fearlessly act. How many times have we harbored great ideas within, never giving them form, until one day we hear about someone else who has expressed their crazy ideas out loud and suddenly we decide it is time? In that moment of decision we lose the fears that have held us back. It is then that our long-nurtured dreams feel so right that they seem to flow out of us effortlessly. This kind of creative breakthrough can take our work to a new level or in a new direction.

Perhaps the highest obligation for creative artists is to constantly give ourselves permission to voice our wildest imaginings. The response to the question, “What if?” should always be, “Why not?” Does this resonate with you? Leave a comment and let us know, and we hope that you will join us for more interesting and informative articles and interviews on The Artist’s Road.

–John & Ann

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About John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

John Hulsey and his wife, Ann Trusty created the website, The Artist's Road - Painting the World's Beautiful Places.  The Artist's Road inspires with practical art tips and painting techniques for the traveling artist, video painting tutorials and demonstrations, workshop resources, artist profiles and interviews and remarkable painting locations.  The Artist's Road is an artist community for oil, watercolor and pastel artists.  Articles cover intriguing art travel experiences artists have had while painting the world's beautiful places. "I believe I must speak through my art, for the preservation of Nature and the natural landscape from which I take my inspiration and living." John Hulsey is an accomplished artist, author and teacher who has been working professionally for over thirty years. In addition to producing new work for exhibition and teaching workshops, Mr. Hulsey continues to write educational articles about painting for national art magazines, including Watercolor magazine and American Artist Magazine. He has been selected as a "Master Painter of the United States" by International Artist Magazine where his work was previously chosen to be included in the top ten of their international landscape painting competition. He was awarded residencies at Yosemite, Glacier and Rocky Mountain National Parks. "I strive in my art to celebrate the mysteries of Nature - the fleeting light on the landscape, the unimaginable diversity of creatures, the beauty of each leaf and flower." Ann Trusty  is an accomplished third generation artist whose work embodies the natural world and is created through direct observation and translation of her subjects into her paintings. She has found inspiration in the dancing light across the water of the Hudson River (where she had a studio for ten years), as well as the big sky and waving tall grasses of the open plains of the Midwest (her current home). Her work has been exhibited throughout the United States, France and Turkey in both museum and gallery exhibitions, and has been reviewed favorably by the New York Times.

3 thoughts on “An Artist’s Highest Obligation

  1. YES! Why not voice my wildest imaginings? I fear I should learn all I can about color, composition and design before even attempting my latest dreams. Being self taught, I went ahead and created small figures which I then had cast in bronze and got lots of praise and sales. Because I did not price my art high enough, It just paid for itself for 15 years. So, I ended up getting a job in an office until I retired. Now, I don’t want to give away my work any more – so think I better make sure I”m professional enough before creating! Thank you for this ;much needed article. Time to stop studying (been great though) and to go ahead and express my crazy ideas!