Saturday, November 12, 2011

Where does ART come from?

I love this conversation with Lesley Riley, a gifted and generous artist's coach and thought I would share it with you. Where does YOUR art come from?

Reaching by Lyric Kinard
Mother's Hand: Magic by Lyric Kinard
Where does art come from, this passion to create? It's a question I ask all of my guests on my bi-weekly Art & Soul radio show. The responses are as varied as my guests - artists, writers, all talented people. Best-selling author, Patti Digh's quick and witty response was, "It comes from my elbow." Her "serious" answer was that it comes from a great, deep yearning that we have to express what seems inexpressible or ineffable (beyond words). Artist and author, Pam Carriker shares "It comes from inside, it's part of who I am." Others have expressed the fact that it's a need, they can't not create. Some have said they believe it comes from the source, God, the Universe - that we are just a conduit, the messenger.

I have come to the conclusion that it's innate. With six children and six (7 is on the way!) grandchildren, and plenty of inside knowledge, I know there exists no toddler that does not want to make their mark. It could stem from pure delight in putting something into the world that did not exist before.

Is self-expression a basic need? Look at all the ways we do express ourselves: music, writing, blogging, dance, drama, hairstyle, clothing, cooking, home decorating and more. So if we all start out drawing, scribbling, mark-making, mud pie creating and make-believe-ing, why do so many of us give it up? And what would happen if we didn't give it up?

Photo source: 7/6/09
Last week the journal, Science, described the finding of 100,000 year old "two tidy paint 'tool kits'" discovered in 2008 along a cliff in South Africa in a cave called Blombos. It was 100,000 years ago that Homo Sapiens emerged as a species and now here is evidence that we were painting from the very beginning! Researchers say that these paint tools and pigments "push deeper into human history the evidence for artistic impulses." Experts at the Louvre performed an analysis and determined that "whoever made the ancient paint selected only the brightest of reds" from the ochre. The desire and need to create is as old as mankind.
Mother's Hand: Burnt Out by Lyric Kinard

What would happen if everyone had the means and confidence to outwardly express themselves? Would they be happier? More content? Unlike sports, movies or TV, no one would be relegated to the couch or the sidelines watching. All could participate - pick up a pencil, a brush, a needle.

You see, I have this theory that if each and every one of us on the planet regularly indulged in arting - this act of making something that did not exist before, of spinning straw into gold - that there would be no depressed, no alcoholics, no bodily aches and pains, no world full of people seeking happiness outside of themselves. It would come from inside, anytime, anywhere. I believe it is the repression of this innate need, this universal desire that causes unhappiness and malaise.

Now it's your turn to answer the question, "Where does art come from?" Is it innate? Hereditary? Learned? Please take a moment to share your thoughts HERE. Be sure to include your name and blog or website. I've got big plans for our collective wisdom. Help me create it.

PS Please spread the word. Ask your friends, post on your FB wall. Use the links here to email. The more thoughts we get, the richer the experience. Thanks!

Lesley Riley, The Artist Success Expert, is the creative founder of Artist Success, Solutions for the Struggling Artist. To receive her bi-weekly articles on creating your own success as an artist, visit