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I inspire new possibilities to deepen love, intimacy and self-expression. I mainly write articles about that, but you'll also find refrences on design, fitness and finance. More

One of Spain’s most celebrated painters is Francisco Goya and one of his best works is not pleasant. In fact, it’s disturbing. It’s a painting of the god-like figure, named Saturn, devouring his son. To prevent his sons usurping him, he ate every child his wife bore him. Goya chose to make some slight but impactful changes to the well-known Greek myth. So did Rubens, who painted the same scene. Rubens depicted a determined, smug Saturn sucking the life out of the child instead of simply swallowing him whole, as in the myth. Goya went a step further. Instead of a baby, Saturn’s hands dig into the bloody back of a grown child who knew what was happening to him and must have desperately tried to fight back. Also, Saturn looks crazed, startled, as if you, the viewer, were lost and had wandered in and seen something you weren’t supposed to see. It’s horrific, yet no one can deny it took great skill to convey such an emotion that clearly. That’s what makes it beautiful. That’s why this unpleasant painting in a museum.

Art, at its core, is communication. Experiencing something isn’t enough to make art, it has to be conveyed in some form or medium. It has to be communicated, at least to yourself. The possible art forms are too many to list but they all rely on you performing or creating an object that another can receive with their senses. Usually this will be through your choice and delivery of words. Seeing art as communication clears up potential confusion about how individual preferences come into play. Skilful communication says nothing about the content. You can tell your partner something they like in a way they barely hear it or misunderstand it, or tell them something they dislike that they hear loud and clear.

How well do you convey the intended emotion or sentiment in the way you communicate? Are you able to make the other feel what you are feeling? How clear and transparent can you be? Unskillful art fails at this. Whether someone paints you a winter landscape or one of summer, can they make you feel you are there? If you want to be artful in your communication you must ask yourself: Whether you show your pain or delight, are you open to be felt and understood to those who want to connect with you? To be a skillful artist is not about being able to, for example, paint a specific thing, but to have mastered your artform well enough to be able to paint anything. Only showing one side of yourself presents a lie; a deceptive image. As an artist, you don’t try to make another feel anything, but you are making yourself open to be felt by those that want to connect with you.

Contrast this to strategic communication, for example, when art is made as propaganda. When you’re too clear on the intended outcome for your creation it turns from being about your expression and instead to influencing and changing someone else. Like a dream just is, the best art also just is, without intention or self-explanation. The artist isn’t quite sure where it came from or what it means and the production process itself is an exploration and way of understanding themselves. The more strategic you are, the more you compromise the artistic integrity. For instance, as redeeming as Ayn Rand’s novels can be in other ways, artisitcally they fall short because her novels acts more as a vehicle to communicate her ethics. When you start reading you know where she’s going to take you. But when you read, say, Dostoyevski you have no idea where you’ll end up. More to the point, neither did he, which is what made it art. Great artists aren’t that sure of what they’re up to because they’re moving beyond themselves. Ethics is about solving problems but art doesn’t seek to solve anything. Art doesn’t change things, it shows things. Sometimes it leads to change, but that’s not the intention.

Art isn’t only about the expression but the courage and sensitivity to feel fully. Expressing yourself, even just to yourself, magnifies and enriches your experience. Sensitivity, listening and receiving is as much a part of art as the offering. Who you are and the feelings you experience as you interact with the world is unique. Your life is precious, and if your partner and the world will be touched, informed, and even “blessed” by it all depends on your skill and willingness to show yourself.

Last updated 20 October, 2019


I inspire new possibilities to deepen love, intimacy and self-expression. I mainly write articles about that, but you'll also find refrences on design, fitness and finance. More

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