The Soul of an Artist

BY Millard Arnold, March 22 2016

Remarks by Millard Arnold on the opening of the 2007 Water-Colour Society of South Africa exhibition

Within you, within me, lay the seeds of an artist, for all of us are artist in our souls.

It is those of us who ripen and mature, whose works we admire and celebrate that we tend to see as the definition of an artist, but in truth we all are, it is just that some of us will develop and others will not, but we are all artist in our souls.

When asked to speak here today, I was severely challenged as to what to say. I grappled for a long time with different thoughts and ideas, but a dear friend of mine suggested that as an artist I had some unique to offer and that was to try and explain the artistic progression. How does an artist think? How do they understand what it is they do? I admitted that it was an intriguing thought and so what follows is a feeble attempt to explore and explain a highly intuitive occurrence.

For me, art is a highly complex internal process of perceiving, creating and communicating the differing mysteries of life. Art is drawn from within – it is an attempt to explain that which is without us, that which surrounds us, that which makes us what we are.

Art is a wondrous attempt to come to terms with what life is: sometimes intense, perhaps subtle, often sensitive, frequently rash, occasionally rare, singularly brilliant, but most of all, extraordinary.

Art is about mystery – the beholding, bewitching notion of discovering the unknown. It is about releasing, explaining and unravelling an alternative comprehension of the ordinary.

An artist sees thinks differently. They see the common in uncommon ways. They perceive things that others can only hope to discern. And through their perceptions they create, driven by what Carl Jung called the “inner necessity,” because creativity is an inner necessity for an artist.And that creativity releases the universality within all of us – it exposes the deep complexities of Creation, fragments of which have been found in all us since the beginning of time. It is that vague aware of our greater self that explains the appeal of art.

And that is because art is never complete until it is view, perceived, absorbed, observed. It touches us somewhere within that Cosmic space lodged so firmly within our soul.

What an artist does fundamentally is to communicate new perspectives, new ideas, new dimensions, and new ways of thinking. Paint me a picture; sing me a song; write me a book. It is about communicating things we feel but don’t know – things that touch us in unexplained ways.

Art helps us explore the lessons in life

  • To fulfil dreams
  • To find expression
  • To discover who and what we are

All art is driven by inspiration and inspiration is the source of creativity. It overcomes the fears of self doubt and uncertainty. It allows an artist to reach deep within that part of him or her that belongs to us all but only few seek to know. Perhaps that understanding is why Albert Einstein noted that imagination is more important than knowledge.

And if art is about perceiving and creating, then painting is the most complete means of communications – because it is visual, and for most of us, we live in a visual world rich in colour, shades, nuances, depths and perceptions. The visual arts capture and demonstrate that complexity better than any other medium.

It allows us to embellish to enrich, to discover within ourselves the greater truths that we all share.

It is a medium to present in a way never seen before the social, political, and economic transformations that shape our lives. To illuminate social & cultural shifts and to do in a fashion that balances our internal process of growing.

And for each artist, there is a logic in art that is defined only by the creativity of their imagination. For each artist, the more powerful their view, the more compelling their vision, their way of expressing themselves becomes the style we know them by, something immediately recognisable, something very personal, something that becomes the signature that differentiates them

Ultimately, an artist expands humanity’s reach and understanding by perceiving, by creating, by communicating. In his or her humble way, they bring all of us joy, passion, knowledge and truth.

We thank and love them for what they are.