Stairway to Heaven

cityscape 1, photograph

“Vision is not enough – it must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps, we must step up the stairs.”

– Vaclav Havel

How many times have you found yourself staring up those steps? I consider myself most fortunate when I find myself  in that position.

It is not easy to have vision, to know where you are trying to go with your work. More often it feels a bit like I’m trying this, then trying that. Sort of a random gathering of images. I feel more like a collector than a creator. I have to remind myself to focus on developing a vision from which the images flow. Hard sledding, for sure.

But sometimes we find ourselves at the bottom of the steps. It can be exciting but also daunting. We know that by taking the first step we are committing to either successfully realizing our vision, validating it to the world, or to failing to make it manifest or perhaps realizing the vision is flawed. But until we step up those stairs, we will never know. Our vision will remain embryonic, undeveloped. Adding venture to vision creates reality from potential.

So should you find yourself fortunate enough to be confronted by that stairwell, by all means do not squander  the opportunity. Step up those stairs!

How Do You Make Your Art?

after the rain, photograph w/ lensbaby macro

“At it’s worst, [contemporary art] offers only imagination without vision, goals without values, individuality without character.”

Ted Orland

As I read this line in Orland’s The View from the Studio Door I wondered what distinctions he was making here. After all, it seems like a good thing to have goals, use your imagination and express your individuality. On the other hand, vision, values and character does sound better. What’s he after? Here’s my initial simple take, but this is one that I think bears ongoing examination.

Vision unifies imagination.

Values give your goals importance.

Character makes others respect your individuality.

Imagination, goals and individuality allow you to create art that is initially interesting. Vision, values and character allow you to make art that is interesting over time.

I am going to have to contemplate how I can integrate these into my art. It is so easy to just make the art – harder to make it with vision, values and character.

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