The Artist’s Way

“Seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and things will be added to it,” we have been told, often since childhood, by people quoting from the Bible. We don’t believe this. And we certainly don’t believe it about art. Maybe God would feed and clothe us, in a pinch, but painting supplies? A museum tour of Europe, dance classes? God’s not about to spring for those, we tell ourselves. . .

Thinking like this is grounded in the idea that God is a stern parent with very rigid ideas about what’s appropriate for us. And you’d better believe we won’t like them. This stunted god concept needs alteration. . .

What would a nontoxic god think of your creative goals? Might such a god really exist? . . .

Many of us equate difficulty with virtue— and art with fooling around. Hard work is good. A terrible job mist be building our moral fiber. Something— a talent for painting, say— that comes to us easily and seems compatible with us must be some sort of cheap trick, not to be taken seriously. On the one hand, we give lip service to the notion that God wants us to be happy, joyous, and free. On the other, we secretly think that God wants us to be broke if we are going to be so decadent as to want to be artists. Do we have any proof at all for these ideas about God?

Looking at God’s creation, it is pretty clear that the creator itself did not know when to stop. There is not one pink flower, or even fifty pink flowers, but hundreds. Snowflakes, of course, are the ultimate exercise in sheer creative glee. No two alike. This creator looks suspiciously like someone who just might send us support for our creative ventures. . .

when it comes time for us to choose between a cherished dream and a lousy current drudgery, we often choose to ignore the dream and blame our continued misery on God. We act like it’s God’s fault we didn’t go to Europe, take that painting class, go on that photo shoot. In truth, we, not God, have decided not to go. We have tried to be sensible— as though we have any proof at all that God is sensible— rather than see if the universe might not have supported some healthy extravangance. . .

“This is extravagant but so is God” is a good attitude to take when treating your artist to small bribes and beauties. Remember, you are the cheapskate, not God. As you expect God to be more generous, God will be able to be more generous to you.

What we really want to do is what we are really meant to do. When we do what we are meant to do, money comes to us, doors open for us, we feel useful, and the work we do feels like play to us.

~Julia Cameron
The Artist’s Way

Many thanks to Deerbrook Editions for the recommendation to read The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.

 

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