A Painful Creative Process?

‘Artist suffer to produce art’ was the opening premise of my post yesterday. Somehow the creative process is one of “cracking your skull open” or “putting your sweat and blood into it.” “Tortured artist” even gets a page on Wikipedia, and is linked to the similar ‘poète maudit,’ the bad-boy artist who is against the establishment. In a way, societies finds tortured artistic personalities moving in the most Romantic way, because they feel a deep connection to this other person.

Vincent VanGogh

This all may be true to an extant, but I’m a little skeptic. Both the Romantic I of lyric poetry and the Romantic artist struggling to produce art are flawed characterizations. This emotional ethos en-nobilizes the making of art from a craft to fine art, with the by-product of considering the piece of work to reflect the soul of its creator. I think you’re as likely to see a reflection of your own soul as you are that of the artist.

Charles Baudelaire
Making art is suffering as much as making anything else is. It could take the same amount of work, in terms of energy expelled and time, to make a table as a painting. Going to work is often not fun, but do I really get to claim that I suffer as I email and answer the phone? Running on a treadmill might be considered suffering, but nobody will idolize your soul over it.

Robert Mapplethorpe
Also, don’t happy people create, and why shouldn’t they create good art? Leonardo is generally upheld as a great artist. He is also widely considered a brilliant thinker–yet he didn’t brood over his canvases. Hell, he could hardly be coerced to finish them once he had sketched them out, much less pour a troubled soul into them.

One thought on “A Painful Creative Process?

  1. It happens to hear about the creative torments quite often, yet the statements like ‘Artist suffer to produce art’ always confuse me.
    While painting (or taking pictures) I feel myself healed from all disasters. So the words “producing art” associate with taking a sip of fresh air to me. The headache come later – the pain unnerves as I see that the soul diaries are accepted as the market products by the world.
    As I wrote once – the spiritual healing by the fine arts starts as we recognize ourselves in others. That’s the secret of the beauty

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