An Artist's Highest Obligation

30 Jan 2013

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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Emeraldcat wrote
on 2 Feb 2013 12:39 PM

Beautiful photo with the sunset reflecting on the high-luster  finish of a vehicle. It made me think, and I like that!

on 11 Feb 2013 2:29 PM

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!

Campuz wrote
on 25 Oct 2014 11:57 AM

... You just helped me a lot!!!.... Thanks!!!