Beauty is an odd thing. It sometimes seems like beauty is a luxury; a very nice “add-on” to life that isn’t really necessary but does a lot to make life nicer. I don’t agree with that take on beauty though. I think beauty is something that human beings need nearly as much as oxygen, food and water. Beauty and the recognition of beauty is so much a part of what makes us different than other animals. I think beauty is spiritual, and nothing short of a primary connection to God.
And as an artist, as someone who feels deeply and who attempts to create something beautiful on canvas all day long in my art studio here in Asheville, I thought I would spend a few moments and talk about what I do to intentionally grow beauty, because especially today, I think beauty is something that should be being cultivated in large and infinitesimally small ways by all of us every day.
Beauty often doesn’t just happen, it can be planted and cultivated by our thoughts and acts. For instance, I walk the three miles to work every day rather than save time and drive. Walking is not only great exercise, it’s quiet. Walking is slow. When I walk, I think, I sing, I pray, I meditate. I have come to really treasure this “slow time”. It means I sacrifice nearly an hour and a half every day (if I drove instead of walked) but at the end of the day, I don’t just want to get lots of tasks checked off my “to do” list. I want also to have enjoyed life that day, and I do not enjoy life while rushing from thing to thing. Slowing down allows beauty and creativity to be cultivated and tended to.
As an artist, I feel deeply. I can’t help that. I have always felt deeply about most everything so I don’t have to try. I have sometimes wished I came with an emotional “on-off switch” so I could turn it off sometimes. However, I came equipped with no such switch, but as time goes by, this emotional awareness is something that really does sensitize me to the beauty around me and when I see it and am in awe of it, I can't help myself...I have to respond. Art is my response.