From the window seat in our master bedroom, looking through the French doors into our study, I can see the white bookcases lining one wall. They remind me of honeycombs we kept on the farm, books now the honey that my bees/mind goes after. Then an old issue of Border Crossings captured my attention where I read an interview with Canadian artist Betty Goodwin.
She says, “A work is a deeply personal mixture of your earlier experiences and also your life at the present in this world. But I can’t shred it and say it’s absolutely this or that. It’s based in something you don’t even realize yourself until it gives you back information. It’s like you’re pulling and pulling and trying to get something. And then there’s that magic time when it begins to pull you. If that doesn’t happen, you can’t push it any more and it dies.”
This quote captures my feelings about how writing connects me with my on-going life, that somehow its shaping me as I shape it, just as dreams do. As an artist, whether a writer or visual artist as Betty Goodwin is, it’s essential to have this dialogue with the work and our lives. Then both come alive in ways we might not have imagined.
So how do you know when that happens? From my experience, the writing takes on a buzz. I’m drawn to developing it further. It almost takes on a life of its own. But I’d love to know how it happens for others!
9 thoughts on “What makes any art compelling?”
When it comes to producing the art, I find that I’m not always in flow, and that’s okay, because there’s also value in writing despite ‘not feeling it’.
But when it comes to what makes art compelling from the POV of the consumer, I think it’s about what a certain piece means to me, which is highly subjective. That’s why I think great art is great, because they manage to touch a wide variety of people.
Well put, Stuart. Thanks for sharing!
Stuart, you are right–any kind of art is highly subjective. Sometimes I walk into an art gallery and wonder why my finger painting from kindergarten isn’t being displayed. I’m dismayed by what’s hanging on the wall. Why and what is it? Then next to me, a visitor is saying “oh” and “ah.” What makes great art? The same when I read book reviews that go from one star to five stars. Subjective indeed! Maybe that reminds us all to be open-minded.
The characters come a live. They take over my page. They intricate into my life. And long after I’ve finished with them, I often wonder how they are doing.
Lovely. So well put, Marlene!
Yes, I get into “the zone” and have no idea where or when life is happening around me. It’s my “magic place” where I love to be.
P.S. We worked out the conundrum for my writing group…back to just four of us and following our guidelines. Thank you for your affirming comments last time.
Hurray! So happy the writing group has rescued itself! And thanks for writing about your magic place.
you asked why art’s compelling. For me art’s compelling because it’s inspirational, divinely inspired evidence of our oneness with one another and our Creator, whatever we conceive that Creator to be. Art elevates me past my physical existence into a spiritual place where I feel more soulful.
Love this. Thanks Sara!