Art for the soul

How To Be A Jewish Artist

how to become a jewish artist
begets the question
how does one be a jew
how does one be an artist
what is art
and all of these questions that seemingly have been discussed for ages, and have never been properly dissected and rearranged for our understanding. 

art is a flow
a flow of ideas, of inspiration, that comes from a superior place, like chochma, above the intellect, in the deep recesses of our soul, nestled between our inner will and our taanug, our desire, there is a kernel of an idea that wants to fly, and become a spring chicken, but it needs us. it needs us as the conduit, using our mind and our cerebral cortexes, not to mention our spinal cord, and soaring through our nervous system, it produces a rapid heartbeat as we start to feel something deeply within us, we start to have the urge to say something, and our fingers twitch and our mind becomes restless, unable to focus on the external conversation, on thepleasantries to our neighbors, as we have one task before us. quick! it sends signals to our brain. focus! find that piece of paper, jot this down! before your forget! and we scramble nervously around, bumping into things, knowcking things over, repeating things under our breath, unaware of the curious looks from pasperbys as we find at last! that piece of paper and the flow is still there and its coming, and as we write, as we paint, as we dance, that little kernel, inplanted within us, begins to sing, and we hold on tight and let it rip. 
that is the process of art and that is the role of the artist. essentially, a conduit. 
so let's all get off our high horses, fellow awesome artists, and admit the truth- it's not really us that's making that art, it's that Higher Power, that's sprinkling those kernels that become implanted within our souls and our nervous systems and our furious fingertips that are banging out our latest prose with all the gusto we can muster. 

but, how do we connect to that flow?

there are two flows going on in our system- one that begins in the heart. no surprises there. it is from this flow that much of the "art" in this world  is produced.   the heart wants and it pleads and it feels and the mind, a dutiful servant, is pulled on after it, creating elaborate intellectual treaties that explain in progressive, persuasive academic style that would please any college professor, the rationalized reasons for its activities. this is our natural flow, that happens automatically within our system, for our heart has a huge hunger and the loudest voice out of any of ours. this is how all of the shmutz in the artworld evolves, from a heart that desires blindly, deeply, and a mind that explains after it "see, this is important that this is said, because..."even if it never should have been said in the first place. 

and the other flow, the meeker, more humble, sturdy voice and mouth, begins in our intellect. this one takes our own effort to initiate. but if we do,  if we allow our intellect to lead with thoughts that engage our mind with invigorating thoughts on emes that calm our hearts and reinforce our sense of purpose and create a clearer picture of the Torah way, this superior flow then channels down into the heart, and the heart beats after it. it is that latter that we must harness, preparing our minds before creating art with a Torah perspective, going at the art with a Jewish mind. 

this is why a jewish artist must first concentrate on being   Jewish. not just doing jewish, but being. preparing  one mind, one's spirit, and connecting to that flow. that is who we really are. 
the problem is that jewish artists feel they must DO Jewish art. there is the being that comes out of doing ( I do, therefore I am) or the doing that comes out of being ( I am, therefore I do). and that funny thing is, is that once one connects to that flow, that Gdly flow, it's easy. the art, is easy. because you're just a conduit and it comes from you. you don't have to think or push after that.  

the former (Jewish art-doer) feels with a heavy heart they must take that Jewish concept and apply it to their art, as if they were two seperate entities. it becomes laborous, seperate from oneself, and, as we all mourn, boring. and above all, a burden. art should never be a burden. it may be intense or scary or confusing, but underlying its energy must always come from a place of grand liberation. of having something important to say. but for those poor Jewish souls who feel they must take about this or that, or they must create, they are as enslaved as the rest of us, their art is just another box on their to do list. sigh. 

but if you are situated in the right place, with your head in the right place, energized, heart pumping from , feeling calm and determined and connected and in love with the Source of Life, that art, that Jewish art, is just going to flow. and it's going to be fantastic. and you're going to look heavenward, and inward, and all around, and know, with that inner knowing that speaks with absolute certainty, that Gd wanted you to say this and He wanted you to say it with all of your personality and wisdom and bright colors and hilarious humor. and with that feeling of inner connection, inner certainty, unstoppable fervor, and a busting smile on your face, His Will has become your will and His desires, your desires, and flowing, and going, and flowing somemore, you will add to the powerful collection that He keeps in His Private Art Collection,that He dances to in His spare time, that He muses over. For there is nothing He wants more from you or that the Jewish people could ask for you than good, true, quality Jewish Art.