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Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Selfishness of Art

Portrait of Mozart (1756-1791).
Painted in 1762, when the composer was 6, by Fruhstorfer.

The making of Art is a selfish endeavor. It requires all your spirit; yet you can give it everything, and it will still demand more. To give it what it craves is to take away from others. Time and space, love and friendship, sympathy and concern—there will be none, if any, left for important relationships. It's an impossible position to be in, if you want to stay married and still have friends.

I, too, have struggled with balancing Art and everything else. When I give too much time to Art and sense that my relationship with others suffers, guilt sets in. I find it tempting to shift the blame to that gluttonous monster, Art.  But to be honest, it's not Art but only just me, wanting to do what I find immensely rewarding and fulfilling. It's a rather selfish attitude.

One reads about someone like Mozart, a child prodigy, whose father recognized his gift and turned his efforts to cultivating his son's talent. Unlike most preteens, Mozart probably didn't rebel against constant practice; he clearly enjoyed the effort. As one report has it, “He was keen to progress beyond what he was taught.” But was Mozart selfish? It's hard to think so when you listen to his Requiem in D Minor.

Of course, I'm no Mozart—or, to choose a name more appropriate to painting, no Rembrandt. I'd like to think that some day I'll reach a point where I've mastered the craft and have moved on to making Art with a capital “A.” Meanwhile, I try to balance all the things that make life worth living.

Personal goals aside, I believe that making Art may be necessarily selfish, but the sharing of Art is not. My hope is that my paintings will give others solace knowing that, in these times of doubt and soul-searching, there is still beauty.