The Happiness of Art

There are two lines in the book The Artist’s Way that read, “A productive artist is quite often a happy person. This can be very threatening as a self-concept to those who are used to getting their needs met by being unhappy.”

Yet we, as a society, continue to hold on to the concept that artists must “suffer” for their art. Why? How can anyone in a down and negative place produce anything of beauty and value for the world? I’m not saying that art always springs from a place of gladness – you can write a great love song after experiencing heartbreak, for example – I’m saying that choosing to suffer for the sake of suffering will get you nowhere.

The other night, I attended a reading given by some author friends. They had also invited a singer to open with a few of her songs and a visual artist to paint something quickly on the stage. And here is what made the night a huge success . . . they were happy. All of them!

The authors read from their work, big smiles on their faces. Their voices rose and fell with the rhythm of their words, as they savored every syllable. The singer picked up her guitar and eased into her songs. Her eyes often looked up at the heavens, as if we were not even there, and she radiated joy as she sang. The artist took to the stage and gingerly picked up her paintbrush. As my friend read, the artist put a few brush strokes on the canvas. Though her time was limited, she was in no hurry. She was enjoying the moment, as were we.

I’m giving away a copy of The Artist’s Way on my newsletter this month because I think it’s a work of genius and every artist or creative should own a copy. Next month, I’m giving away one of the paintings by the artist I saw on stage the other night. And a couple of months later, I’m giving away a CD recorded by the singer. It gave me pleasure to purchase their work and will give me even more pleasure to give it away!  I’m pretty sure you won’t recognize these artists’ names, but I’m just as sure it won’t matter. Because their passion is in their art, and you’ll feel it.  And maybe it will make you happy.

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