I ran across a quote the other day that brought me up short.
An artist is an artist because he is not happy with the world, so he creates his own existence. (Robin Gibb, quoted in Billboard.com, reprinted in The Week, 6/8/12 pg 19.)
I’ve long heard that a great artist has to suffer, and I suppose there is some truth to it. At least an artist has to take risks if he is to lead a varied life. Suffering is one dimension, of course. But happiness another. I don’t mean the happiness of a newborn lacking in experience. I mean the happiness that comes of having feared the worst and survived. The Dali Lama is a classic example of a persecuted man, driven from his homeland because of his religion. Yet he has fitted his experience into a larger framework which has intensified his calling. Not only is he a beacon of hope to his countrymen but to the world.
An artist who has suffered and uses that experience to create a new life from the ashes of the old is, by definition, a happy man. Therefore, I cannot agree with Robin Gibb’s observation. Like anyone else, the artist may not be happy in all aspects of his life, but as it pertains to his art, the creation of it is a good experience and sometimes a spiritual one. A mind drowned in sorrow is too turned in upon itself to create. Art is born of passion and nurtured by reflection. Or so it seems to me.
(courtesy of www.drawinghowtodraw.com)