-by Jared Adamson-
As I sit at my desk and type this blog post, something catches my eye. It’s been there a while and I see it nearly every day. And it’s kind of hard to miss, as the colors are quite vibrant. It’s not what I’d call ‘large’, though it is larger than the photographs of my kids and grandkid that it hovers above.
“What is it?” you may ask. It is a gift from a friend.
Specifically, it is a painting that was created especially for me. Not a lot of people have seen it, for even if you visit my office, it’s kind of tucked away from view. If you were to pop your head in for a quick hello, you might miss it. And in it, the artist, someone I consider a good friend, tried in his way, to translate, to capture, to portray…me.
And even though I’m 100% sure that this friend will read this post (wink, wink), I’m still going to say what I’m going to say. It is, by NO definition known to humanity, great art. An untrained painter, trying to speak a language he has not studied and likely would not grasp much of it. Imagine visiting Europe. Just because you’ve eaten at the Olive Garden and Taco Bell does not mean you will be able to effectively communicate anything if travelling through Italy or Spain.
And yet to me, this work of art is priceless. Because I get it. I understand what the painter is saying. I hear the tone of voice in his brushstrokes. I see his emotion in his color palette. I can see my friend in his own work. I am the only intended audience and it makes me smile. It means something to me.
I’ve recently been reading the Little House book series to my kids. A character, if you will, that I had nearly forgotten and yet continues to reappear each time the Ingalls family sets up housekeeping, is the shepherdess figurine. Just a small porcelain figure that sits upon the mantle of each new home that Pa built. Today, it could have some historic value; it might have some antique value. It would not likely be considered as great art. But to the authoress, Laura, it always meant “home”. It meant something to her.
There are great themes and ideals in any art form that we could discuss at great length. There is much to be learned about the history, technique, application and implication of any art form. From such an education and/or debate/discussion, much could be applied to our creations. And as I said of my friend, he is untrained/inexperienced in many or all of these themes and ideals. But that doesn’t make him ineffective or undesirable as an artist. I have proof in front of me—a very effective, highly treasured painting.
Here’s what I’m getting at: when creating, “success” is not black and white…but neither is it shades of grey. It is a rainbow of options and opinions. It is a Pantone palette of possibilities. One critic may sit on one side of the fence, while another stands on the other. Then a third critic does a balancing act, walking across the fence. And another one points to the fence and says, “Fence?! I thought you meant Fencing!” (And then everyone gets nervous, because he’s clearly someone that should not be trusted with foil nor sword.)
Does “prolific” equal “success”? Does “profit” equal “success”? Does “propensity” equal “success”? Does “persistant” equal “success”? I don’t intend, or even want, to define success for you. But let me challenge you to find art that means something to you. Whether as Creative or Audience, if it is meaningful to you, you have found great art. Even if, or maybe especially if, it comes from an untrained, uneducated, inexperienced, dear and beloved friend.
Jared Adamson 10/2/2017
Jared Adamson is the Minister of Worship and Creative Arts at Centerville Christian Church in Centerville, IN. Studying voice, composition, organ and improv, he has a Bachelor of Music in Church Music with a double major in Bible and piano from Cincinnati Christian University where he later served as an adjunct professor in the music and worship department.