Art, Creativity, Beauty

These ideas are what inspire me when I am creating art.

(The following is summarized and paraphrased from:
Art and the Bible by Francis A. Schaeffer and Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge)

Here, I will define creativity as the process of making art, and therefore, art, or a piece of artwork, will be the product of that process.

Creativity is intrinsic to our glory as humans because we are made in the image of the Creator.  Everyone has the urge, desire, capacity, and propensity to create because we are made in the image of God. Therefore, being creative and using our creativity has value in and of itself.  God designed us that way.  Every one expresses their creativity in different ways – whether in visual arts, cooking, gardening, needlework, woodwork, decorating, photography, writing, storytelling, communicating, solving problems, musical ability, theater, crafts, puppeteering, etc. Of course, our creativity can reflect the darker side of human nature too, so there are many less savory ways one may use their creativity.

The act of creating may be done as an act of worship.  A Christian can use the arts to praise God.  An artwork can be a doxology in itself.  In this sense, the artist who loves God and is expressing prayer through art, can produce their artwork even if no human ever saw the art.  The artist knows God sees his art and that is what makes it worthwhile.  As an example, David wrote poetry and music as a spiritual exercise to the praise of God and to bring his heart to God.  Striving for excellence in art, i.e., trying to adhere to the rules of art, is another way to praise God.

The Christian artist should strive for beauty in the finished product because beauty matters to God.  Beauty is essential to God and is the essence of God.  We know this through nature.  Scripture says the created world is filled with the glory of God, primarily through its beauty.  Nature is not primarily functional, but beautiful.  At the height of its glory, nature says "Beauty is essential," revealing the essence of God.  Beauty is and of itself a great and glorious good.  And we know this through the visions given to John in Revelation.  God is like gemstones.  We behold the beauty of God.

Beauty speaks.  "It is the beauty of the created order which gives an answer to our questionings about God." – Oxford Bishop Richard Harries.  Our questions about disappointments, sufferings, or fears are answered by beauty.  St. Augustine found answers to his questions in the beauty of the world.

I said to all these things, "Tell me of my God who you are not, tell me something about Him."  And with a great voice they cried out: "He made us."  My question was the attention I gave to them, and their response was their beauty. – St. Augustine

Beauty also says, "All shall be well and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well" as Julian of Norwich said.

Beauty provides room for your soul to expand and to rest.

Beauty invites you to come more deeply into it.  You want to enter in, explore, partake of it, feast upon it.  It draws you in and holds your attention – think of a beautiful piece of music.  (All the same responses God wants from us.)

Beauty nourishes - it’s a food our souls crave.  Beauty offers life.  Beauty comforts and soothes the soul.  There is something profoundly healing about beauty.  We send flowers to those who are mourning because somehow only a gift of beauty will be fitting.

Beauty inspires.  It makes us want to be better people.  Beauty calls us to something higher and tells us that life can be better.

Beauty is transcendent.  We want to be united to it, to pass into it, to receive it into ourselves.  Beauty is our most immediate experience of the eternal.  Beauty may be so deep that it pierces us with longing for life  as it was meant to be.  Beauty reminds us of Eden we have never known but somehow know our hearts were created for.  Beauty speaks of heaven when all shall be beautiful. Beauty says, "There is a glory calling to you." and  beauty draws us to God, the source of that glory.

It is God who reveals beauty as essential to life.

Woman (Eve) is beauty incarnate.

There is a radiant beauty hidden in every woman’s heart that the world desperately needs.

"Every experience of beauty points to eternity." – Hans Urs von Balthasar