A few years ago, I made the comment to someone that I wanted to paint something because I wanted to do something productive. The person I was talking to responded with something like, “Productive? That’s not really productive if you think about it…” This really made me question why I thought that producing artwork was more productive than, say, watching TV. I knew that painting was a productive thing to do, but I didn’t know why.
However, over the past few years, I’ve realized that an activity’s productive-ness is not determined by its practical use. An activity’s productive-ness is determined by the heart of the one performing the activity. Here is what I mean:
1) Producing art reveals the image of God in people. Producing art involves creativity and an appreciation for beauty. In The Everlasting Man, Chesterton writes, “It is the simple truth that man does differ from the brutes in kind and not in degree; and the proof of it is here; that it sounds like a truism to say that the most primitive man drew a picture of a monkey and it sounds like a joke to say that the most intelligent monkey drew a picture of a man. Something of division and disproportion has appeared; and it is unique. Art is the signature of man.” Chesterton believed that the arts were not merely an expression of the human mind, and they were not derived from the mind. Instead, they are derived from the divine endowment of human nature itself. Art was the connection to the divine. Man is not merely a creature, but he is also a creator. To make art is to bear the image of God.
2) Creating art (even simple still lifes and landscapes) has the potential to be an amazing act of worship. If the artist is aware that he is reflecting the image of God in his creating, then he is worshiping. So, creating non-practical, non-useful artwork is one of the most productive things an artist can do when the artist’s heart is aware that it is reflecting the image of God in its activity of art making. This is an incredible act of worship.
When someone produces artwork, I see the image of God in that person. Creating art is incredibly productive. Of course, in this particular post I am only referring to the act of applying paint to the canvas. I haven’t even begun to discuss the value of interacting with the arts community or the way an artist’s ideas and life philosophy are put on display through the body of work he produces throughout his lifetime.
Because I have been given the ability by God to worship God through the creation and production of artwork, I have decided to create as many pieces of artwork this summer with the intention of eventually interacting with the arts community through showing and selling my work. It’s no use to continue to sit around and wait for the right time.