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The starving artist

In a previous column called “Untamed Passion”, I wrote, “Our own poverty brings us to the moral frontier and the thing that we desire will tame us.”

I received a comment and thought it would be fun to tackle it. I’m not sure if I’m up for the job, but here I go.

“Good morning Slade, I thought about untamed passion all night long. Passion in my mind is me!  It’s a good article. Maybe the Final Brushstroke is negative? Think about this. This is my thought. Poverty! What is it? It exists only in the mind of each person as they view life. I say this based on a question asked of my mother who was born in 1911 and lived during the great depression. ‘Grandma, how hard was the depression for you?’ Grandma answered, ‘What depression?’”


New Mexico

We must define the difference between poverty of finances, soul and spirit. Poverty of finances comes from without, poverty of soul comes from within and poverty of spirit comes from above.

Artists know well the poverty of finances. We laugh and call ourselves “starving artists.” It’s not a laughing matter, but it’s the best way we know how to handle our lack, because it is the career that we have chosen. With years of study, practice, energy, heart, hope and desires, not to say the vast amount of money that we have poured into supplies, frames and workshops we should be making big bucks.

But we aren’t.

Does that stop us?

No way.

I have a friend who has painted for more than 50 years and continues to paint. He was asked, if you are not selling why do you continue to paint? His answer is, “I love to paint and I will always paint.” Even though most of us do not receive in comparison what we have given to the arts, we are not going to stop. So poverty of finances is just the way it is and most of us have come to terms with it.

But poverty of mind or soul, you are so right, “Poverty exists only in the mind of each person according to how he or she views their life.”

I know people who have everything and feel cheated. Artists are notorious for feeling this way, because of their melancholy personalities which lend to self pity, rejection, jealousy, envy, on and on. Then they also put themselves out there being vulnerable, and so often shot down. They nurse their feelings, they feel everything very deeply and believe everything and everyone is against them.

But, then there is poverty of spirit. This poverty is what I was describing in the Untamed Passion. Everyone is looking for themselves in the mist of striving for soulish satisfaction and taming their passion. People who are conscious of their own spiritual deficiency are the ones who humble themselves and receive from the source of their blessing. If they aren’t willing to surrender to the Spirit, they will continue to strive to understand who they are and their place.

Real greatness, goodness and contentment are possessed by those who take no praise of it to themselves, because they are profoundly conscious that it comes from another source. To be “poor in spirit” is being genuinely humble and open to the Creative Spirit. It is not negative at all in fact the person who finally gets it is rich indeed.

Great artists who have left great works behind and have touched a world deeply knew the secret and power and were humble of spirit. Great artists such as Leonardo, Michelangelo, Rembrandt, Titian and Veronese have sought to capture that genius and reality on canvas and in frescoes.

Outside things are strange instruments to frustrate the inside things to bring us to the end of ourselves. When we get out of the way, only then is when we really create. So, it is a long way to the end of one’s self. When the prodigal son came to himself, he had used up life and been used up by life. In poverty of spirit he was then capable to receive the knowledge of where he belonged when he became open to hear his own heart.

Starving artists? Not hardly! We are rich in the little things that truly matter. We have to come to the end of ourselves in poverty of spirit and receive grace and be richly blessed.

The Final Brushstroke: “A journey may be long or short but it must start at the very spot one finds oneself.” — Jim Stovall.

Artist’s Quote

“Look into the depths of another’s soul and listen not only with your ears, but with your hearts and imagination, and your silent love.” — Joyce Kanelokos.