Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Loneliness, Art, and Understanding Myself

Robert Genn, while explaining artistic creativity yesterday, provided me with an insight that helps me to understand the way I think and behave. Robert is a successful fine artist known internationally to collectors for his landscapes and to artists for his free weekly encouragement. Twice weekly an e-note, 'The Painter's Keys' comes to my mailbox. You can subscribe. Here is an excerpt from yesterday’s piece entitled, ‘Are you lonely this morning?’

“… With the exception of various forms of team art, most of the functioning professional artists I know have come to terms with the strengths and weaknesses of keeping their own company. Although less of a problem for introverts, this art can be learned. The art of effective aloneness includes the understanding that solitude is necessary for creative gain. "Most progress," said self-improvement guru Bruce Barton, "comes out of loneliness." Creative people need to dream and contrive on their own. "Dreams," said Erma Bombeck, "have only one owner at a time. That's why dreamers are lonely."

I spent an entire working career in service to God, Christ, and his church. No apology. No regret. All of that was very public. For half of that time we lived in parsonages owned by the church. One was located beside the church. It was the proverbial goldfish bowl. I did all of the public duties and did them effectively. I was a diligent and creative pastor, crafting words that developed a reputation for predictably good ministry. That required concentration and private time. I received some criticism for the amount of time that required yet I relished such time.

Now as I try to paint, I love being alone. I need to be alone. This is the true me. I train myself to tolerate intrusions. I have struggled to be like most people I know who live to be with people. I have been self critical. Now I understand that innately, my creative DNA has shaped me for loneliness and that’s OK.

GPS Application
Apostle Paul advised, "Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). The counsel is to include God rather than leaving him out of something as ordinary as putting paint on canvas. Then even an artistic endeavour is a sanctified activity.


  1. Ron,
    I appreciate your introspection on the reality of being alone. I too share this and now enjoy (more than I ever have before) the times when I am reading alone or working on a project alone or simply sitting alone. I think this has been born from a need to shift gears, to just relax and enjoy the creation that God has given us.
    I have been a user of creation but now wish to more enjoy it. Carolyn and I have experienced this in vacationing at Tofino in the last few years. But, it is becoming too expensive to continue to go there.
    I enjoyed your blog. Keep it up.
    Bill Norris

  2. Thanks Bill for your encouragement. May your gear shifting locate other equally relaxing spots for re-creation.


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