Beauty and Excellence in the Arts

My beautiful daughter at four years was the subject.
My beautiful daughter at four years was the subject.

Art is our human response to whatever we see as beautiful.”
Luci Shaw in
For the Beauty of the Church

As human beings we are drawn to beauty, we are attracted to excellence.  The Arts – music, dance, drama, poetry (and other literary arts), visual arts (drawing, painting, digital, sculpture, to name a few)  film, and architecture, and the list goes on – all hinge on these aspects of excellence and beauty.  We often hear things like “anything can be art,” but this is not accurate.  There are skills to be learned and standards to be obtained just as there are in any other learning field!  The artist that learns to create beauty with excellence, like an Olympic athlete, does so by discipline, determination and practice.  Inspiration fits in there somewhere, but it is not nearly as high on the list as the others. But when someone is moved by something that the artist creates – it is worth all the effort!

The ballet dancer practices the beautiful lines of the body until his or her feet have paid a high price.  The writer struggles hours upon end for sometimes just a few words crafted in just the right way to express something profound.  The painter labors through many canvases, sometimes painting one on top of the other (for economy’s sake) until they have learned to communicate visually at a level of satisfaction.

Beauty is hard work.  Michelangelo said:

If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn’t seem so  wonderful at all.

But of course we know what Michelangelo did not.  And that is that  all his hard work in creating beauty has blessed the world for hundreds of years, and although it did not seem wonderful at the time – it truly was and is wonderful beyond words.

Creating beauty in the arts is worth the investment of time, learning and skill.  For if someone else is moved by our work and it causes them to look up and see a higher purpose in it all, then beauty has served it’s work.

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