An Exquisite Balance

The sensitivity that is at the core of being an artist, whether a writer, designer, oil painter, or draftsman, is both a blessing and a curse. The paradox seems to be in how to maintain and nurture it while at the same time developing the necessary hardness to protect oneself from the bumps and bruises of life. It is good to refresh ourselves from the reading of other artists' words. Here is a favorite:

After the Deluge by John Hulsey, pastel painting.
After the Deluge by John Hulsey, pastel painting. Quotes taken with permission from
"William Stafford: An Interview with Nancy Bunge" in American Poetry Review 10, no. 6
(November/December 1981).

The wonderful poet, William Stafford, said in an interview, "I think what I'm trying to locate is that condition of a being who has not been distorted from the receptive, accurate encounter with experience. It's possible to overlearn fear or overlearn confidence. The conditions of life are such that they make survival depend on the organism's ability to come back level again and be ready for the conditions of life as they are on the earth. . . . An individual's intellect and emotions should be like a good seismograph: sensitive enough to register what happens but strong enough not to be wrecked by the first little thing that happens.

"And so human beings have to occupy that position between being so steady and dumb and dull that they can't register and being so sensitive that they're wrecked by anything they register. So I just try to get into the readiness and be receptive, not stampeded, not overly trustful. I suppose we're all looking for that, but I feel the formulations that some people use disguise the necessity for avoiding both extremes. It's very easy to make powerful poems out of suffering all the time. It's all right; but that makes you a casualty."

He continued, ". . . the essential thing we're doing is we're having enough faith in our own perceptions and decisions to make them paramount. You've just got to do it, if you're an artist."

The secret, as William Stafford has said, is to live in the center–neither a casualty nor a champion, but an honest artist be.

For more interesting articles, demonstrations and interviews with prominent artists, please join us on The Artist's Road.


Related Posts:


The Artist's Life Blog
John Hulsey and Ann Trusty

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.