Music and Art Monday: Why Create?

There are probably millions of people who paint out there. Millions more who write songs, and millions more than that who make some other kind of craft. Huge quantities of objects and notes are created and pumped into the world.

How much of this ends up dumped in trash cans or fireplaces or never heard again once that person is gone?

Several years ago I found an oil painting next to someone’s trash pile. It was slightly damaged but I felt compelled to save it. A search of the internet found the artist to be from Africa and active in the 70’s. He wasn’t well known but his art all had a particular style to it. I think my wife has since thrown the painting away.

Will my creations end up in someone’s trash? Will it ever make it onto someone’s wall who did not inherent it from my children? Will they even care to pass it on?

And what happens at the end of it all? Everything we have made will just burn away to dust. What’s the point of making anything if nothing is forever?

Everyone wants to make a legacy. We all want to be remembered for something after our physical presence is gone. We want to pass on something that we can be known for. That’s probably the most basic reason why we create.

We are also commanded to. Part of taking dominion of the earth as ordered in Genesis is making the world a more beautiful place. I think this is especially important in the world after the Fall. Sin has made the world an ugly place. Why not use our God given creativity to improve it and make it a little less miserable this side of eternity?

And speaking of eternity, wouldn’t it be cool if our works in this life were just a preparation for our works in the next? Maybe I’ll actually be a decent painter on the New Earth.

That would be fun.

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Music and Art Monday, August 27th, 2018: Recent Work

It’s been a slow week here. I’m kinda having a bit of writer’s block. I’ve also had painter’s block as well. The only way I have found to bust through that has been to insist on doing a little bit every day.

Here are some recent bust throughs:

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Music and Art Monday, August 20th,2018: Digital Art

Process is key for all art forms, whether it is painting or drawing or taking good pictures. One of my favorite types of art is digital art. With digital art the only real limits are your imagination and your software.

Most people use Photoshop for their digital art. While I have played around with free versions and pirated copies I never got to use it in all it’s fullness. I liked what I saw but I can’t give a proper review of it.

There was a program years ago that I used on the pc. I lost it when we upgraded and have long since forgotten the name of it. I made a ton of images on it. Here are a few:

The program I use most often currently is PicsArt. It’s a phone app but it is pretty powerful. Unlike most phone apps I have used it comes with much much more than just filters. You can crop, you can create stickers for later use, you can edit light, color, clarity, and many other photo elements.

The results aren’t as fun as the pc programs but they can still be fun:

I am hoping that once I get back to a real house with a pc I can find a program that matches the power of Photoshop without the expense. Any digital artists out there have suggestions?

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Music and Art Monday, August 13th,2018: The Nude

Blue Nude, Acrylic on Paper, 2018

Nudity in art: I have touched on this subject a few times but never really delved into my feelings about the subject. I know it to be a sore subject for many Christians and non-Christians alike. The body offends people. Some say nude art is nothing more than pornography. I don’t normally shy away from taboo subjects but I have avoided this one for quite some time because it can be quite misunderstood.

I enjoy drawing and painting the human figure. The human body is a beautifully designed and crafted object. I can think of no other thing in creation as beautiful.

Dressing, Acrylic on Paper, 2014

But I don’t share most of that work.

Why?

Because too many people get antsy about the body. If I said I enjoyed going to life drawing sessions the response from many of the people (men) I know would be something like “Well yeah, you get to look at naked chicks.” In fact I had a whole conversation with an Uber passenger about it and all he wanted to know was if there were any “hot” ones.

Yeah. There are “hot” models. There are models of all shapes and sizes. And dudes too. All I see is a person. A beautifully crafted person, and I hope to maybe capture even a miniscule portion of that beautiful creation with my untrained eye and my shaky hands.

The other big reason is that many in my circles (Facebook groups) consider any level of nudity to be pornographic. Hands down, no debate. All those old masters? Porn. The Sistine Chapel? Porn. Anything with a little bit of skin must be porn.

The Bath, Oil on Canvas, 2018

But nude art is not pornography. While some art is by nature offensive, and some consider porn “art” (it is not), pornography is offensive on a different level. Pornography is not offensive because it shows the human form. Pornography is offensive because it cheapens an act of love, turning it into something consumable, and in doing so degrades the human figure and form. Sex is beautiful precisely because it is intimate and vulnerable. Porn makes sex ugly, and with it: the human body.

Life Drawing #3, Pencil On Paper, 2017

What about lust? Surely all that flesh is just there to titillate.

For me, nude art is my anti-porn. When one has to break down the body into curves and shapes and lines, the body becomes an intimate and familiar thing. One has to respect the body when examining it this closely. The body is no longer an object to covet, it is an object to capture and recreate.

Climbing, Acrylic on Paper, 2014

There is no time for lust in a life drawing class, the mind is preoccupied with details and geometry. To an extent all bodies becomes less interesting sexually, the eye is trained to see them much differently now. Does this mean I can’t lust or think sexually? Of course not! But I don’t default to it like many of the men I know. My default is to see shapes and shades, not a sex object.

Male Nude, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

I tell men this and they can’t believe it. I must be lying. I can assure you that I am not. When you have trained your mind to think one way about a thing it takes an act of the will to see things differently.

What about your wife?

She gets it. And she is fine with it. Especially since she knows it is such a stress relief to draw and paint. She understands my intent and supports me.

Seated Nude, Acrylic on Paper, 2017

What do you, my readers, think about this subject? Is nude art just porn and I am being too loose with my morals? Is it something entirely different? Is it ugly or is it beautiful?

What do you think?

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Music and Art Monday, August 6th, 2018: Culture and Christianity

How are Christians supposed to interact with culture? Are they supposed to ignore it? Avoid it? Yell at it?

A couple of things got me thinking about this topic over the weekend. One was a Facebook post complaining about Christians who watch Harry Potter or listen to Black Sabbath or appreciate other “things of darkness.” Another was an interview with Alistair Begg about the Beatles.

The first took the position that we are supposed to avoid all the “darkness” of the world. They quoted 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”

The second took the position that we ought to know the culture we live in. We ought to be intimate with it so we can engage it with truth. We should analyze culture to learn it’s theology and understanding of humanity.

Which do I agree with?

Well, I do agree with scripture that we should not be unequally yoked. We should not marry a non-believer, we should avoid serving two masters, we cannot follow both the world and God.

But I don’t think that means completely shutting out the culture around us. If the separator is going to be completely consistent he would need to avoid working for non-Christians or even working with them. He would need to be like the Pharisees and wash up every time he came in contact with a non-believer. The whole world is dark. We aren’t called to hide from the dark or completely avoid the dark, we couldn’t do it if we tried.

We are instead called to be light in the darkness. We are to shed light on the lies of Satan. And we can’t very well do that if we bury our head in the sand and have no clue what lies are going around.

In his interview, Begg quoted John Lennon as saying that the lyrics to “Help” were a subconscious cry from his heart. But no Christian of the day was reaching out to him with truth and light. No Christian responded with the Biblical definition of love when “All You Need Is Love” came out either. It was a great opportunity to show what real love is but it was missed.

It’s much the same today. We would rather chastise the unsaved than respond to them with truths. We would rather wear our spotless robes of piety and keep our distance from the world than risk getting muddy with those in it. It’s easier to yell at the darkness and deride it than it is to correct it.

Jesus went to the world. He spoke to the worldly and the pious both. He was not afraid of being soiled by the darkness, because He always had the light of truth with Him.

As Christians, we too should not fear the dark. We should instead shine a light into it. In order to do that we have to see the darkness and know it well.

And that may mean we have to get our hands dirty. It may mean that we read books with certain uncomfortable themes or listen to the lyrics of songs that may make us cringe. We have to take every opportunity to show the love of Christ to an ugly world, and that may mean looking that ugliness right in the face. We don’t have to yolk ourselves to it and hold it in high esteem. We don’t have to embrace the lies in it. But when there is a shred of truth we should grasp onto it and expound on it. We should commend truth and correct lies.

Christians need to be involved in the culture. We need to shine on it and spread the Gospel into it. We can’t very well do that from a bunker.

MAAM, July 30, 2018: Art as Escapism

I want to go to there…

What is it about art, photography, and to some extent music that makes it so enticing? Why do we like to look at pretty things? Why do we seek it out and pay tons of money for images?

If I was to answer that I would have to say that I am an escapist. The reason I collect and create so many images is that I like to look back at them and put myself in that space and that time.

Images create an imaginary world where I can fill in blanks and put myself there. They can transport me back to a time that my mind can idealize. They can put me in a place where I have never been but want to be.

It isn’t just art, it’s imagery in general. I love historic pictures as well for many of the same reasons. Even other people’s vacation photos aren’t immune to my idealization.

I can’t speak for everyone, but I imagine many if not most people are like me if they examined their reasons for appreciating art.

Is it wrong?

I don’t think so. I don’t think there is anything inherently wrong with imagining ourselves in other places and times. If it were we should avoid fiction books and movies altogether. We utilize things like art and books and movies to make us happy, teach us life lessons, and to make life that much better.

But can it be wrong?

Yes, if we are consumed by our imagination. If we obsess over images and the worlds they place us in they can become an addiction. Those places will seek to usurp reality and rob us of contentment. They will become idols and push us away from God.

Anything enjoyable can become destructive if overindulged, art included. That is why we must be careful to balance the beauty of fantasy with the often ugly reality.

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Music and Art Monday, July 23rd 2018: Angel of Needs

Here’s an ancient song of mine for you this week. Unfortunately, I have to external link to the video. (https://steemit.com/music/@driptorchpress/6865nqgg)

Go easy on me, it’s been easily 10 years since I played it last.

At least I can post the chords and lyrics here. The title and chorus come from a painting “Angel Of Needs” by Giles LeBlanc, seen above. I saw it in Nova Scotia when I was 12 and fell in love with it.

Angel of Needs
12/4/00-12/9/00

Intro and bridge: G Em C D7

(Chorus)
(C)You’re just an angel (F) of needs,
(D)An angel sent (G) to me,
(Em)Maybe someday (Am) you’ll be, (Em)What you seem (Am) to be.
(Bridge)

(C)You find it hard (D) to see,
(G) What I’ve (Em) realized,
(C)When I look (D) into your eyes,
(G)And I can see for (Am) miles and miles,
(G)And I can see (Em) your smile,
(C)You’re such (F) an angel (D) to me.

(Chorus)
(Bridge x 2)

(C)Beautiful when I (D) look at you,
(G)How I see (Em) the skies,
(C)When I look (D) upon your face,
(G)I can’t see (Am) another, no others,
(G)But I can see in (Em) this place,
(C)Nothing but (F) the angel (D) for me.

(Chorus)
(Bridge x 2)

(C)I know now how (D) to be alive,
(G)How to share (Em) your time,
(C)When I hold your (D) hand in mine,
(G)And I can feel your (Am) smiling heart,
(G)I can tell no (Em) other touch,
(C)That it compares (F) with the angel (D) for me.

(Chorus)
(Bridge x 2)

(C)You make me (D) so at peace,
(G)How I love (Em) your warmth,
(C)When I hold you (D) close to me,
(G)And I can feel your (Am) laughing hands,
(G)I can feel no (Em) other hearts,
(C)As beautiful as (F) the angel’s (D) for me.

Chorus:
(C)You’re just an angel (F) of dreams,
(D)An angel meant (G) for me,
(Em)Maybe someday (Am) you’ll be,
(Em)The angel you want (Am) to be.