What would artless life be like?
art-less 1 : lacking art, knowledge, or skill : UNCULTURED <an ~ brute> 2 : made without skill : CRUDE…
There are other definitions, but these give the meanings I have in mind today.
The opposite of this ARTLESS, I would say, is ARTISTIC, and the opposite of such ARTLESSNESS is ARTISTRY
How important is such artistry in our world? Consider these definitions of ART:
art 1 : skill acquired by experience, study, or observation… 3 : an occupation requiring knowledge or skill <the ~ of organ building> 4 : the conscious use of skill and creative imagination, esp. in the production of aesthetic objects; also : works so produced
It’s easy to think of art as a frill, an add-on, something we may incorporate into our lives only if we get the leisure after taking care of all the “important” things; otherwise we’ll waste time that “should” be better spent. Sometimes I do that. Unfortunately.
But I am thinking this morning of God as Artist, especially relative to how exactly opposite He and His creation are to the two definitions of artless above. I am considering the magnificent and intricate artistry of all aspects of His creation.
Without artistry, what would our world be? What would the sunrise look like? Would there even be a sunrise?
When I think about it, I realize that God began with art. Beauty and order.
First thing He created was light. First thing He did with it was make definition between it and darkness, even before arranging any sun, moon, and stars in a solar system. And artistry is very much about light and dark. Color is not necessary, but that two-fold element is.
Ever hear artists talk about light? About making the best use of lights and darks in a painting or photograph? About getting the right light to paint a scene? About parking themselves in a certain spot awaiting the precise moment when the light is just right, then grabbing that moment and painting with gusto, trying to capture its impact?—perhaps daily, doing work in segments, till the painting is completed… “in just the right light”?
The principle extends beyond the fine arts, to the crafts and beyond. Right now, as I finish up the patchwork that’s going to be an autumn tablecloth for the coming weekend, the way I line up the blocks according to lights and darks makes or breaks the visual impact of the finished cloth.
Indeed, the blocks themselves are built on patterns of light and darkness, not always so easy to discern. Some colors fool you, if you don’t use a filter like I used when first piecing the individual blocks, and your final product may come out all wonky and less than artistic.
As it is, I did get fooled. Behold the nearest quilt block above. See how its top strip’s darkness impedes the flow of light along the quilt’s main diagonal? Follow the light fabric road away from you and you’ll notice another strip like that, cutting across it. Compare the colored photo and you’ll see what hue fooled me: Yellow. Psychologically, we think it’s light and bright but it isn’t always. Red fools us in the opposite direction: often impressing us as much darker than it is.
This is why an award-winning quilt-maker I once heard speak at a quilters’ gathering was often complimented for her excellent “color sense,” and had her creations displayed in places like the White House: She was, in fact, color-blind!
Surely there’s a parable in all this, but I have no room for one here. We’re focusing here on artistry and artlessness/art-less-ness, and how even the principles of light and darkness can help open our eyes to God’s creative artistry.
In future posts, let’s consider and explore the principles of form and color—in art and artful life. Meanwhile, let’s notice, and emulate, God’s artistry, and not live art-less. Let’s ask Him for more discernment to detect and differentiate the lights and shadows.
As for that patchwork layout above, it’s passable “for just a scrap quilt,” but after considering the artless and the artistic, I think I want to do some rearranging before I sew all the blocks together—maybe even some ripping out and redoing…