Artistic Freedom

Ballet on the beach
Ballet on the beach

I was having a conversation with  Nancy (my wife) and Matthew (the poet) about his new poem A Little Winter Sutra. He was explaining the structure that defines his new work, a tanka, an ancient Japanese form. It occurred to me to then to consider how structure and creativity go hand in hand. Think about it. What art form does not have structure? Even jazz, depending totally on improvisation, still hangs its form on song structure.

I think that having unlimited choice when embarking on a new painting can be paralyzing. A blank canvas can be like a blank page. It seems like limiting choice forces you to become more creative in order to move the work forward. Is this why every culture develops different forms and structures to work within?

Nancy, being a former dancer, spoke about the strict form involved in classical ballet. The choreographers work within this form creating a distinct style. But, think of all of the forms of dance that have influenced or descended from ballet.

Of course artists do break the so-called rules all of the time creating new forms and styles. This is creativity at work as well, pushing the boundaries of art. Is this true for your art? I think that I spent the first part of my life learning the rules and forms so that now I can break them to creative effect.

This is artistic freedom. The license to break , at will, the rules that define the art, or not…

Here is Matthew’s new poem:

A Little Winter Sutra

Winter empties this
valley completely. Two miles
of hollow silence.
Just four ounces of songbird
will fill it. A bell, ringing.
“Rut with me and eat!”
Music sells the animal
present while it lasts.
Not even breathless, this thing
returned alive from Brazil.
There is still still air
after. Snow wants nothing.
Is without question.
He considers it. Adjusts
his wings. Makes note. Takes the air.

6 thoughts on “Artistic Freedom

  1. TIna 12/14/2012 / 2:30 pm

    Being in education, I see many teachers who I think are truly art in motion. They work within certain constraints, which are necessary, but what they are able to communicate in so many different ways is amazing and inspiring. Although I am no longer in the classroom, I find that having certain boundaries with whatever I do provides a secure framework that I start from and then can make my own…that’s my way to express my creativity and it’s amazing to think about how many activities I can relate this to. I think we all have unique ways to show expression and creativity in our daily lives…break boundaries in our own way…as long as we have the confidence to do something that takes us beyond the norm.

  2. avidseeker 12/14/2012 / 2:44 pm

    Thank you for sharing Matthew’s lovely poem. For a moment, I was there. I agree with your idea that we have to know the rules of form, whether by formal learning or intuitively, before we can truly and freely express ourselves artistically. Thanks to Nancy for her contribution as well…

  3. avidseeker 12/14/2012 / 2:49 pm

    Roger, you make me think! In music, whether playing an instrument or singing, there are the notes, the time signature, the words, if there are any, and these can all be reinterpreted according to an artist’s expression. Behind the scenes, there is the basic theory propping them up.

  4. Jnana Hodson 12/14/2012 / 5:47 pm

    Igor Stravinsky, I think, once said limitations make art. (A classical dancer, of course, can make the connections.)
    A fine poem, all the same.
    I love those times when the arts overlap.

  5. Whine And Cheers For Wine 12/15/2012 / 10:36 am

    Interestingly, to me at least, I never would have connected structure and creativity. I thought the complete opposite. But you are spot on with your comment; structure and creativity go hand in hand. I had just not ever connected the two. I always thought of creativity as a form of freedom but I see now how that creative freedom can develop from structure.
    I also think Tina’s comment was spot on; we all have unique ways to show expression and creativity in our daily lives. It is so true. We may not all be painters, writers, photographers etc but we can all be creative in our own way when applied to our daily lives.
    Thank you.

  6. Roger 12/15/2012 / 4:53 pm

    So much of what we do in life can be approached in creative ways. I thank you for opening this line of thought. I always feel that my creativity is a state of mind much like worship. An openness or inner calm. To use this inner state no matter what you are doing is the goal and yields creative results.

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