Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Does Art Make the Life? Or Life Make the Art?

"Nothing very extraordinary happened really. 
But the life we lived was amazing." 
~Angelica Bell

(Angelica Bell and friend, Charleston House, 1978. Photo by Howard Grey.)

We are all artists, every single one of us. 
Our canvas is our lives.  
Every choice we make is a dot that goes onto our canvas.
At first, the dots are tiny and scattered and seemingly unconnected.
But gradually, over time, a picture appears. 

Living is an art.

Don't let anyone tell you differently.
(And don't let anyone tell you it's easy.)
It takes hard work to keep life simple.
It requires focus to make it meaningful.
Sometimes it feels like a balancing act between learning to hang on and learning to let go. 
But your art is your life. 

"It takes a lot of time to be a genius. You have to sit around so much, doing nothing, really doing nothing."  
~Gertrude Stein

(Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas with their poodle Basket, 1938. 
Photo by Cecil Beaton.)
Creating a good work of art takes time.
It demands patience.
It can't be rushed.
There will be days, months, years even, when you look at your canvas and think all the time you've spent on it has been for nothing.
But that's just exactly when you have to keep on going.
Because the day will arrive when you realize that all those insignificant little dots were adding up to something extraordinary.

"There are some things that cannot be learned quickly, and time, which is all we have, must be paid heavily for their acquiring. They are the very simplest things, and because it takes a man’s life to know them the little new that each man gets from life is very costly and the only heritage he has to leave."  
~Ernest Hemingway

(Ernest Hemingway in Cuba, date unknown, via)


Michelle said...

Strange coincidence, because I was just discussing something very similar with my daughter today, how living is an art. Only your post expresses it much better and so true. I don't know if art makes the life, or if life makes the art. But I do know that I wish I had had this insight when I was young. So I try to pass it on to my twenty-five year old daughter. But like ol' Hem said, "There are some things that cannot be learned quickly." And for me anyway, life as well as art, seems to march at its own pace. Thanks again for another great post. Your blog is my favorite.

WendyMcLeodMacKnight said...

Lisa - I love this! I have been holed up in a room writing for the last month, creeping out now and then to watch a good movie, read a good book, laugh with friends. I was thinking yesterday how lucky I am to have this life, my own little "masterpiece", perhaps only exciting to me. The older I get I realize that the key to happiness is to surround yourself with family friends who are of a like mind, surround yourself in the things that you personally think are beautiful, and be in the moment to the joy of the moment. Thank you for a lovely morning gift!

Emily said...

My very favorite line in this whole post:

"It takes hard work to keep life simple".

It spoke volumes to me!

Cait O'Connor said...

I too loved the line about keeping life simple - this is an art form in itself and a pleasurable one.

Jenny said...

I love this post, too! I'm a writer, too and completely agree with what Wendy said. Thank you for your posts, Lisa, they're wonderful!

donna baker said...

Funny that I just posted yesterday about my muse being frozen outside somewhere in the snow. I am making myself paint anyway, because it is too cold to go out and find her.

Lisa Thomson said...

Thank you for this beautiful reminder, Lisa! I admire your choices of quotes (all amazing writers). We must be thinking along the same lines as I posted about the nonrenewable resource that is TIME.

Living life is an art! Thanks again for this beautiful sentiment today :)

dr spinster said...

everything about this is perfect. this post could be used as a commentary and explanation of how I teach ethics and why I think it matters.

katy gilmore said...

All true, all true Lisa, art life, life art - and aren't we lucky! Wonderful encouragement and reminder from you - your posts a present and a pleasure - thank you!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Michelle: Such a lovely comment...thank you so much!

Glad it could help...keep on writing!

You're not the only one. :)

Cait O'Connor:
It requires constant maintenance though, doesn't it? :)

Donna Baker:
You make me laugh. :)

Lisa Thomson:
The idea certainly seems to be in the air, doesn't it? I love that it resounded with you.

Wow. Thank you so much! I am honored by your comment.

katy gilmore:
thank you, katie! being an artist yourself, I'm thrilled this post spoke to you. xx

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

And (whoops) Jenny:
Thank you so much -- that means a lot! xx

Hollywood forever, Kevin said...

Hear! Hear!

Frances said...

Lisa, seeing this post with its varied quote as we near the end of the first week of February, always a challenging month, has been a delight.

I think that both questions in your post's title could have yes as an answer.

What's really grand (to me anyhow) is that questions about art are still be asked!


L said...

It's pointillism!

Unknown said...

How lucky I am to have found your blog as a link from my friend's blog, A Silken Swoon. Each time I see A Bloomsbury Life in my In Box I light up with the anticipation and I'm never disappointed. I savor your posts when I have time to sit with them. This post is something that I've been trying to express to others and you have worded it so perfectly. So many don't realize that their life is art. There actions are creations and affect the creations of others around them. The simplest things can be beautiful. Thank you for your writings, thoughts and pictures.

Unknown said...

Thank you for this great post Lisa. It all looks amazing. I have loved that light from Ikea it is so cute and it looks cute where you have it hanging. Love the basket for blankets too in front of the fireplace. Everything looks beautiful. Your Bathroom Without Breaking

Anonymous said...

Art takes time and that's alright with me. I used to be the kind of person who needed something RIGHT NOW, but I've learned over the last few years that it's not about getting what you want, it's the journey of self-discovery that it takes to get there. Neat little blog post! :)

Unknown said...

ha - was just searching for a good quote about a masterpiece today and saw some very similar ones about life and how living is the real masterpiece. Happy monday!

Unknown said...


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Acanthus and Acorn said...

A beautiful reminder for any age at any time! The other day i spent an afternoon cooking and listening to French music and while I do this from time to time, it's usually on the weekends. Somehow on a Wednesday it felt decadent ending with art on the plate and a wonderful surprise for my family.
Happy Valentine's Day!

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pve design said...

more please. more food for thought in regard to creating art and living life with art.

Rebecca Rose Cepeda said...

Yes. And yes....Gertrude Stein's quote was particularly empowering; if that is the right word? Loved this, thank you. Rebecca

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