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.