Michael Divine

The Romance of Art

As an artist it is inexplicable. You will see things that no one else sees. One day it may be your mind returning to the burning hue of a particular shade of orange against a soft robin egg blue. Another day you may be struck by the echoes of the curve of an oak tree, the way the sun glinted off an art deco inspired cornice of an office building built 100 years ago, or the patterns of the trash ground into the city street.

You may be a windswept plain. A bewildered forest. A breath of a dream at night.

And you’ll go back to your canvas, hunched over it in a terrible posture, subsumed by the rhythms of your own creation. What was that blue. What was that oaken curve. That burl on a redwood. That color of the sound of blaring horns on a city street?

We – we artists – we live in a world that isn’t meant to be monetized. Isn’t meant to me commoditized and fractionalized into perfectly succinct sound bites coupled with isn’t-this-what-you-want advertisements. We are the flowers blooming along the banks. A vast field of blossoms lifting their minds and hearts to the sun yearning for the freedom of creation, of never ending blooming. To taste it once is a miracle. To find it again… and again and again and again… is a gift. It is to exist in the rhythm of creation.

What is that sweet freedom to practice, perhaps as a painter, with your brush. To find that perfect tone that is the golden yellow umber that lives just under the thinnest of sienna with a dash of violet where a subtle turquoise speck of a hue shines starkly against the shadows? It is late night dreams and early morning dances. It is discovered in the causal brushstrokes and then, later, in deliberate ministrations to become the next layer of an unfolding idea once had in the midst of visual contemplations.

What is it that an artist shares with the world? And why – of all the things – the myriad things – so many aspects of our world – do we marvel at that? At the sublime creations that outlive our past.

It may seem to others that you are dawdling away in your fantasies – your doodlings in the margins of day-to-day realities. Perhaps in a corner of your garage you have eked out for yourself a little space for your magical creations. Perhaps in a bedroom or on a TV tray that you keep tucked under the couch when no others are around.

But I want to tell you this – no matter who you are – that act of rewiring your internal circuit boards to the rhythms of your own blossom blooming – like a flower finding its way to the light – brings more life to this world than simply making a dime while your boss makes a dollar.

And when you turn around, and go back to the rest of your life, perhaps that blossoming – that blooming star that is your heart, is you, just this human, waltzing through the world – perhaps it has a stronger voice, a more determined step, and sees the vast worth, the vast potential.

Art-making is a revolutionary act. Each brush stroke or strum of a guitar or chink on a marble surface is the self-empowering voice of I AM.

Dream big.

Your mind, the mind of the artist, casts a different net. It hears the cadence of a voice or sees the reflected light on the edge of the wall or the curve of a hip or marvels at the interplay of forms between a city scape and a flower bud. Others will miss these moments – and who is to say which focus is more important – but my heart feels a little more whole in that romantic dance of color and form than in the spreadsheet variables of cost benefit analyses.

And, in the end, lover of beauty that I am, I am a hopeless romantic. Rather than be swept up in stories about how we can grow bottom lines I am more apt to be swept along by conflagrations of heart wrenching beauty, the parts that make me yearn like the poets and prostrate like the mystics – than I am to be talked into painting the next marketable thing but the ray of sunlight through my studio window and the way that the wind sweeps a mountainside into submission are’t marketable propositions.

They are merely part of the romance of being alive. To be an artist is to live in that romance.

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