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What Great Artists Know...

David Sherry
2 min read

How is it that a great painter or sculpture or poet can create every day?

How is it that they can show up day after day to build their body of work and art?

How is it that an improv actor can go on stage night after night with new material? Or a comic can make a new strip each morning?

Because to do this does not take effort.

At least not in the way we traditionally understand effort.

What I mean is that it is not tiresome.

Because when it occurs, it is fulfilling, not exhausting.

It is dipping into the well and getting something out of it.

It is this fundamental change which creates an output of art that would approach infinity, given the time.

What professional artists and creators understand is one simple thing; they understand how to get themselves to the well.

There may be great effort to get there. And this effort may even play out over years, taking great mental bending to get one to a place which they can reliably arrive.

But upon reaching the well, their "effort" is no longer required.

This well is beyond their line of sight, and so "thinking" harder has no effect (if not counter-productive).
This well is beyond their line of sight, and so guessing at what may come today, is futile.

An artist may paint for 6 hours a day without a break.

This is because it is not time spent, it is because time disappeared.

And time disappeared is most satisfying...

You see a piece of art is, in a way a Polaroid, which becomes exposed.

It is an existing negative being processed and revealed in real time.

It is an image of that timeless place, filtered through the artist and transmitted onto the page, the song or the computer.

And so all art is the same.

And yet all art is different, why?

Because each human is unique, and so their filter provides a unique image which comes through onto the page.

Each artist produces his or her own Rorshach of the world.

Great art cannot be explained.

For some, we understand it purely by its contents.

For others, understanding the context behind the artist, understanding the artist-as-filter, which helps us enjoy the art.

But the thing that connects all art is its purity.

Its nature is primarily of non-self.

It is the artist, and yet it is not the artist.

It is the artist, and it is us...

And this duality is what is most attractive...


Because what humans want most is to disappear into that natural purity, a space below the surface of their being, where time disappears, where the well is infinite...

And where no effort is required.

xx David