Updated: Jun 25, 2019
Inspired art is a loving act.
As an aspiring artist, I’ve often wondered if there is a philosophical basis, a belief or value system, that informs and trestles the making of art; if so, how does that value system guide the artist, and how does it serve as a definition for what art is?
The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. — Psalm 19:1
For me, God is quite naturally central to a philosophy of art because there is nothing as beautiful as the natural world. There is no art that can equal it, is there? By comparison, all human creation seems artificial, except, of course, photography and filmmaking, which reflect the natural world but can never replicate the whole life-as-art experience — a trek down a path in the Blue Ridge Mountains at golden hour or a stroll on a beach at dawn.
Art, therefore, struggles to approach the perfection of creation.
In this context for understanding art, God is the creator-artist whose overarching talent is not only the source of all creativity (since God made man … in his own image, no less) and since God creates and sustains creation through the laws of nature, and since nature is in a constant state of growth and re-creation.
So, quite naturally, we can see how God loves us through creation, and how, through our own gift of creativity, God has granted us the ability to show love through art.
Creation, life, and art are acts of grace … gifts that none of us ever asked for.
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. — Romans 1:20
In this fascinating verse from Paul’s letter to the Romans, he explains that the reality of God is “clearly seen” in nature — “from what has been made.” God’s fingerprints are obvious everywhere. Look into your own irises, your own pupils, and you see into the portal through which creation is poured into consciousness. Look at your own hands and you see the tools that chisel and paint and type new expressions of what life means and what life is.
We are masterpieces created to create new masterpieces.
This cosmic view as a personal philosophy keeps God at the center of your own integral story* — and this is the undergirding revelation that gives the artist a foundation upon which a vision for life, and a career in art, can be built.
Love is beautiful.
But for some strange reason, much of the art produced today, particularly popular art, isn’t beautiful, indeed, much modern art celebrates the ugly and the mundane, or the merely pretty; because life, for many artists, looks ugly and mundane, or mere prettiness is enough for them.
Too much popular art reflects depravity, self-absorption and sin — the easy stuff, the titillating stuff, the Barnum & Bailey stuff that sells tickets using the lowest common denominators, the eye candy, the salacious — because many artists don’t really know any better. Many popular artists have sold out, and sold their souls, to the demands and seductions of commerce. Or, they have never learned or deeply experienced God's restorative, unconditional love.
Spirit-led artists know better: they know the truth and the truth informs them and their art and their lives. They know, for example, that art isn’t a reason to live or a way to find themselves or define themselves: instead, they know that art is a reflection of a life well-lived, a mind made straight, a heart motivated by love, and a spirit at peace with God.
Life without God, and lacking the profundity of the love ethic, can be ugly and mundane, because life manifests all that informs it, and all that it is built upon. For many people, life is excruciatingly difficult, even though any particular view of life will manifest art that reflects the artist's world-view, as self-fulfilling prophecy.
But a broken heart can be healed, and we can always change our view of life — we can correct it, improve it, refine it, if we want to, by making spiritual reality our first priority. By allowing it to become our essential motivation, because it is our essence.
Refining a view of life based in truth.
In my own experience, two of the best ways to discover and refine a view of life that embodies and reflects truth is to study the ancient scriptures (I’m quite fond of the Psalms, myself), and to make meditation a daily spiritual practice. Scripture, prayer and meditation will bring you into communion with God.
Scripture speaks to the mind and refines your understanding of God. By changing your understanding, awareness of the spirit within (your authentic self) expands until spiritual reality manifests and becomes actualized in your life.
Meditation, contemplation and prayer bring you into knowingness of your own spirit and into the presence of God. Indeed, our spirits “live” within God’s pervading spirit: when you discover and experience that core spiritual reality, that quantum truth, everything is integrated into your knowingness, your beingness, and, for the artist, the making of art becomes a loving act.
Find a little piece of nature — a leaf or flower or pine needle or acorn, hold it in your hand and study it, smell it, ponder it; let it become an icon for all creation and for the majesty of God, distilled into a small object you can cradle in the palm of your hand. Think of yourself as a flower or leaf being held in the palm of God’s hand. Then ask God to reveal your destiny as an artist and as a human being. Ask God to burst open your life and your reality like a flower and make it beautiful and fragrant.
Beauty is what love looks like, joy is how love feels, and a loving life will yield art that speaks through its beauty, intelligence, and dedication to truth, all of which arise from the spirit within in communion with the spirit of God.
*Your Integral Story — your purpose, your story and your life within the Cosmic Story, from The Theory of Everything & Beyond.
John Leslie Butchart has written a book on quantum physics and metaphysics that explores ultimate questions, if you’re interested in such things.
THIS SIDE OF SOMEWHERE ELSE — FACEBOOK NOVEL (FREE!) LINK TO THE MOVE, LAKE OF FIRE, AT REELHOUSE THE MUSIC WE’RE BORN REMEMBERING ON AMAZON SONS OF NOAH ON AMAZON HOME MOVIE ON AMAZON (Poetry and Flash Fiction) AUTHOR’S PAGE ON AMAZON AUTHOR’S WEBSITE
About the Author:
John Leslie Butchart attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he studied psychology, philosophy, anthropology, Southern literature, creative writing and filmmaking.
He and his family own and operate a motion picture production company, Highway 29 Motion Pictures, in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Author of more than twenty screenplays, his film credits include Lake of Fire, a Southern Gothic motion picture which he wrote and directed, and The Hive.
In addition to The Music We’re Born Remembering, he has authored a book of short stories and poetry entitled Home Movie; an apocalyptic thriller, Sons of Noah; and an Appalachian novel entitled Elyana.