Finding the muse

 

I was looking for a meaningful subject to make art about.

It seems these things come in trends like anything else. But I was worried that I would be mistaking the value of the work with the importance or popularity of the cause.

 

The idea took hold to take the muse as a subject. In my mind the definition of a muse was a personal thing or person to make meaningful art about. So I basically took a metaphor for what I was looking for as a subject to find what I was looking for.

 

 Discovering the metaphor came as quite a relief because the more I searched for a meaningful subject the more I was convinced that all subjects were meaningless. Which did nothing to spark interest or creativity.

 

What ensued after the decision was made to discover the muse was a series of thoughts and images. A journey in which I tried to understand her and to understand her significance to me.

 

If you want to know more about my journey in which I was discovering the muse then please enjoy reading the next paragraphs and looking at the accompanying illustrations. At the end of the text I will reveal what I have learned in the process of making these pictures beneath the surface information.

 

 I often look to the past for inspiration. When we look at history we can decide which events where meaningful, construct truths around them, identify with them and just make sense of things.

So I started researching the muse by reading about her history.

 

 

Ancient origins

 

There are many accounts of the ancient Greek deities to which the muses belong and some accounts that precede the Greeks. I caught myself looking for which account was real and remembered that they where myths and decided to go for the account that started with Uranus and Gaia.

 

Uranus was the god that embodied heaven and Gaia embodied the earth. Together they conceived other gods including Mnemosyne the goddess of memory and Cronus who castrated his father and took his seat of power. Cronus was afraid that his own offspring would do the same to him and so he took them from his wife Rhea as soon as they where born and swallowed them whole. One baby however survived when Cronus was tricked by Rea. She led him to believe a rock was the baby which led him to swallow that instead. The baby was called Zeus and he would later exact his vengeance by murdering his father and liberating his siblings.

 

 

Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for 9 consecutive nights after which she conceived 9 children.

These children were the 9 muses and each one was the embodiment of a specific art form.

 

Calliope for Epic poetry

Clio for History

Euterpe for Music, Song, and Lyric Poetry

Erato for Love poetry

Melpomene for Tragedy

Polyhymnia for Hymns and agriculture ( I love this)

Terpsichore for Dance

Thalia for Comedy

and Urania for Astronomy.

 

Each muse can be called on by artists to aid them in the practice or performance of their art.

 

So far so good. I had an interesting subject with a rich and accessible history which inspired a range of drawings.

 

 

Disillusion

 

After giving form to 9 Greek muses I  played with the fact that I was musing about muses but that just seemed unimportant and I set it aside as more of an etymological game.

 

What seemed significant, exciting and also upsetting was the realization that visual art didn't have a muse.

 

I found out that Artists were held in low esteem by the ancient Greeks. So much so that they where placed between slaves and freemen. This had roots in Greek philosophy in which Plato argues that we are fooled by our senses. What we perceive to be true is less real than what we can reason to be true. So what we perceive is an illusion and artists are creating copies of illusions and are therefore much less practical than by example a carpenter. A carpenter could build a chair you could sit on. An artist could draw a chair you could not sit on.

 

I have always been so convinced that art was something elevated from everything else, that it needed to be deeply meaningful to have a right to be called art. But if art was simply a skill used for either deception or entertainment then I was  fooling myself into thinking that I could use it to find something meaningful.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on

 

Moving on from this dark place I reminded myself that the believes of the ancient Greeks didn't stop Picasso from finding and creating art around muses. Allthough I am sure he didn't think of them as ancient Greek deities but as something else. I decided to look into the modern muse.

 

I read a description of the artists muse  by Frank Servaes which read:

 

" All she had to do was look at a man, place her hand on his arm, and immediately he found the proper expression for something  over which he had been brooding helplessly, unable to give it artistic form for some time. It was she who released the thoughts of these bards struggling to create in pain and suffering.".

 

Being in a dark place I was skeptic of this description as  it seemed to have little to do with being a muse. You see I had unconsciously let go of the possibility that a muse was anything meaningful and was looking for similarities between the ancient muse who was the embodiment of an art form and the modern muse who didn't seem to embody painting. In fact the modern muse seemed to me to simply be a model for the artist to project on. I wandered if the term Muse was used incorrectly to flatter the model or to elevate the artwork. Perhaps the artist used the term to elevate work that was about possessing female beauty. after all People have been depicting what they want most since we dwelt in caves.

 

Or maybe they simply enjoyed female beauty and I am judging them to harshly.

 

 

But what is the truth?

 

I was coming up with possibility after possibility with no way of finding the truth and I don't think I was certain what I was looking for anymore.

 

I felt a sense of confusion and desperation as my mind latched onto all kinds of insights, some useful and some destructive. I decided to go back and try to create structure from these confusing ideas and possibilities.

 

I decided that a Greek muse was an embodiment of an art form, but what she does is aid the artist in performing his or her art.

 

The painted muse is a person, not an embodiment, but what she does is aid the artist in performing his art. How she aids  in the practice of art could be linked to the artists desire to impress,posses, be elevated by or to admire her beauty.

But these ideas weren't bringing me closer to the muse. They were deromanticizing her, reducing her to a list of facts.

Like knowing the composition of the human body tells you what a human is by reducing it to a shopping list. This list isn't enough to enable you to understand what it is to be human, because it ignores the things that make it important.

 

It seemed that the more I tried to reason what a muse was the further I got from understanding what she was.

 

 I decided that drawing and painting her would perhaps bring me closer to understanding than reasoning would. After all, the person or model was simply him or herself until the artist made the painting. The process of this action allowed the model to become a muse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back

 

I was looking for a meaningful subject, but subjects aren't meaningful. Just as a muse is maid by painting her, meaning is created by devoting yourself to something.

 

Truth is not absolute. The truth can change or be one of many possible truths. Therefore you might as well choose the truth that serves you best.

 

Looking back at the pictures I don't see the confident goddesses embodying art that I thought I was drawing. They look like they are trying to be, but are actually  unsure of what they are supposed to be. Perhaps I think that I am looking for meaning, when I am actually looking for a reason to be confident in my work.

 

In the end I can't say that I have found a muse, but now at least I know where to look.

 

 

 

Finding the muse

 

I was looking for a meaningful subject to make art about.

It seems these things come in trends like anything else. But I was worried that I would be mistaking the value of the work with the importance or popularity of the cause.

 

The idea took hold to take the muse as a subject. In my mind the definition of a muse was a personal thing or person to make meaningful art about. So I basically took a metaphor for what I was looking for as a subject to find what I was looking for.

 

 Discovering the metaphor came as quite a relief because the more I searched for a meaningful subject the more I was convinced that all subjects were meaningless. Which did nothing to spark interest or creativity.

 

What ensued after the decision was made to discover the muse was a series of thoughts and images. A journey in which I tried to understand her and to understand her significance to me.

 

If you want to know more about my journey in which I was discovering the muse then please enjoy reading the next paragraphs and looking at the accompanying illustrations. At the end of the text I will reveal what I have learned in the process of making these pictures beneath the surface information.

 

 I often look to the past for inspiration. When we look at history we can decide which events where meaningful, construct truths around them, identify with them and just make sense of things.

So I started researching the muse by reading about her history.

 

 

Ancient origins

 

There are many accounts of the ancient Greek deities to which the muses belong and some accounts that precede the Greeks. I caught myself looking for which account was real and remembered that they where myths and decided to go for the account that started with Uranus and Gaia.

 

Uranus was the god that embodied heaven and Gaia embodied the earth. Together they conceived other gods including Mnemosyne the goddess of memory and Cronus who castrated his father and took his seat of power. Cronus was afraid that his own offspring would do the same to him and so he took them from his wife Rhea as soon as they where born and swallowed them whole. One baby however survived when Cronus was tricked by Rea. She led him to believe a rock was the baby which led him to swallow that instead. The baby was called Zeus and he would later exact his vengeance by murdering his father and liberating his siblings.

 

 

Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for 9 consecutive nights after which she conceived 9 children.

These children were the 9 muses and each one was the embodiment of a specific art form.

 

Calliope for Epic poetry

Clio for History

Euterpe for Music, Song, and Lyric Poetry

Erato for Love poetry

Melpomene for Tragedy

Polyhymnia for Hymns and agriculture ( I love this)

Terpsichore for Dance

Thalia for Comedy

and Urania for Astronomy.

 

Each muse can be called on by artists to aid them in the practice or performance of their art.

 

So far so good. I had an interesting subject with a rich and accessible history which inspired a range of drawings.

 

 

Disillusion

 

After giving form to 9 Greek muses I  played with the fact that I was musing about muses but that just seemed unimportant and I set it aside as more of an etymological game.

 

What seemed significant, exciting and also upsetting was the realization that visual art didn't have a muse.

 

I found out that Artists were held in low esteem by the ancient Greeks. So much so that they where placed between slaves and freemen. This had roots in Greek philosophy in which Plato argues that we are fooled by our senses. What we perceive to be true is less real than what we can reason to be true. So what we perceive is an illusion and artists are creating copies of illusions and are therefore much less practical than by example a carpenter. A carpenter could build a chair you could sit on. An artist could draw a chair you could not sit on.

 

I have always been so convinced that art was something elevated from everything else, that it needed to be deeply meaningful to have a right to be called art. But if art was simply a skill used for either deception or entertainment then I was  fooling myself into thinking that I could use it to find something meaningful.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on

 

Moving on from this dark place I reminded myself that the believes of the ancient Greeks didn't stop Picasso from finding and creating art around muses. Allthough I am sure he didn't think of them as ancient Greek deities but as something else. I decided to look into the modern muse.

 

I read a description of the artists muse  by Frank Servaes which read:

 

" All she had to do was look at a man, place her hand on his arm, and immediately he found the proper expression for something  over which he had been brooding helplessly, unable to give it artistic form for some time. It was she who released the thoughts of these bards struggling to create in pain and suffering.".

 

Being in a dark place I was skeptic of this description as  it seemed to have little to do with being a muse. You see I had unconsciously let go of the possibility that a muse was anything meaningful and was looking for similarities between the ancient muse who was the embodiment of an art form and the modern muse who didn't seem to embody painting. In fact the modern muse seemed to me to simply be a model for the artist to project on. I wandered if the term Muse was used incorrectly to flatter the model or to elevate the artwork. Perhaps the artist used the term to elevate work that was about possessing female beauty. after all People have been depicting what they want most since we dwelt in caves.

 

Or maybe they simply enjoyed female beauty and I am judging them to harshly.

 

 

But what is the truth?

 

I was coming up with possibility after possibility with no way of finding the truth and I don't think I was certain what I was looking for anymore.

 

I felt a sense of confusion and desperation as my mind latched onto all kinds of insights, some useful and some destructive. I decided to go back and try to create structure from these confusing ideas and possibilities.

 

I decided that a Greek muse was an embodiment of an art form, but what she does is aid the artist in performing his or her art.

 

The painted muse is a person, not an embodiment, but what she does is aid the artist in performing his art. How she aids  in the practice of art could be linked to the artists desire to impress,posses, be elevated by or to admire her beauty.

But these ideas weren't bringing me closer to the muse. They were deromanticizing her, reducing her to a list of facts.

Like knowing the composition of the human body tells you what a human is by reducing it to a shopping list. This list isn't enough to enable you to understand what it is to be human, because it ignores the things that make it important.

 

It seemed that the more I tried to reason what a muse was the further I got from understanding what she was.

 

 I decided that drawing and painting her would perhaps bring me closer to understanding than reasoning would. After all, the person or model was simply him or herself until the artist made the painting. The process of this action allowed the model to become a muse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back

 

I was looking for a meaningful subject, but subjects aren't meaningful. Just as a muse is maid by painting her, meaning is created by devoting yourself to something.

 

Truth is not absolute. The truth can change or be one of many possible truths. Therefore you might as well choose the truth that serves you best.

 

Looking back at the pictures I don't see the confident goddesses embodying art that I thought I was drawing. They look like they are trying to be, but are actually  unsure of what they are supposed to be. Perhaps I think that I am looking for meaning, when I am actually looking for a reason to be confident in my work.

 

In the end I can't say that I have found a muse, but now at least I know where to look.

 

 

 

Finding the muse

 

I was looking for a meaningful subject to make art about.

It seems these things come in trends like anything else. But I was worried that I would be mistaking the value of the work with the importance or popularity of the cause.

 

The idea took hold to take the muse as a subject. In my mind the definition of a muse was a personal thing or person to make meaningful art about. So I basically took a metaphor for what I was looking for as a subject to find what I was looking for.

 

 Discovering the metaphor came as quite a relief because the more I searched for a meaningful subject the more I was convinced that all subjects were meaningless. Which did nothing to spark interest or creativity.

 

What ensued after the decision was made to discover the muse was a series of thoughts and images. A journey in which I tried to understand her and to understand her significance to me.

 

 

 I often look to the past for inspiration. When we look at history we can decide which events where meaningful, construct truths around them, identify with them and just make sense of things.

So I started researching the muse by reading about her history.

 

 

Ancient origins

 

There are many accounts of the ancient Greek deities to which the muses belong and some accounts that precede the Greeks. I caught myself looking for which account was real and remembered that they where myths and decided to go for the account that started with Uranus and Gaia.

 

Uranus was the god that embodied heaven and Gaia embodied the earth. Together they conceived other gods including Mnemosyne the goddess of memory and Cronus who castrated his father and took his seat of power. Cronus was afraid that his own offspring would do the same to him and so he took them from his wife Rhea as soon as they where born and swallowed them whole. One baby however survived when Cronus was tricked by Rea. She led him to believe a rock was the baby which led him to swallow that instead. The baby was called Zeus and he would later exact his vengeance by murdering his father and liberating his siblings.

 

 

Zeus and Mnemosyne slept together for 9 consecutive nights after which she conceived 9 children.

These children were the 9 muses and each one was the embodiment of a specific art form.

 

Calliope for Epic poetry

Clio for History

Euterpe for Music, Song, and Lyric Poetry

Erato for Love poetry

Melpomene for Tragedy

Polyhymnia for Hymns and agriculture ( I love this)

Terpsichore for Dance

Thalia for Comedy

and Urania for Astronomy.

 

Each muse can be called on by artists to aid them in the practice or performance of their art.

 

So far so good. I had an interesting subject with a rich and accessible history which inspired a range of drawings.

 

 

Disillusion

 

After giving form to 9 Greek muses I  played with the fact that I was musing about muses but that just seemed unimportant and I set it aside as more of an etymological game.

 

What seemed significant, exciting and also upsetting was the realization that visual art didn't have a muse.

 

I found out that Artists were held in low esteem by the ancient Greeks. So much so that they where placed between slaves and freemen. This had roots in Greek philosophy in which Plato argues that we are fooled by our senses. What we perceive to be true is less real than what we can reason to be true. So what we perceive is an illusion and artists are creating copies of illusions and are therefore much less practical than by example a carpenter. A carpenter could build a chair you could sit on. An artist could draw a chair you could not sit on.

 

I have always been so convinced that art was something elevated from everything else, that it needed to be deeply meaningful to have a right to be called art. But if art was simply a skill used for either deception or entertainment then I was  fooling myself into thinking that I could use it to find something meaningful.

 

 

 

 

 

Moving on

 

Moving on from this dark place I reminded myself that the believes of the ancient Greeks didn't stop Picasso from finding and creating art around muses. Allthough I am sure he didn't think of them as ancient Greek deities but as something else. I decided to look into the modern muse.

 

I read a description of the artists muse  by Frank Servaes which read:

 

" All she had to do was look at a man, place her hand on his arm, and immediately he found the proper expression for something  over which he had been brooding helplessly, unable to give it artistic form for some time. It was she who released the thoughts of these bards struggling to create in pain and suffering.".

 

Being in a dark place I was skeptic of this description as  it seemed to have little to do with being a muse. You see I had unconsciously let go of the possibility that a muse was anything meaningful and was looking for similarities between the ancient muse who was the embodiment of an art form and the modern muse who didn't seem to embody painting. In fact the modern muse seemed to me to simply be a model for the artist to project on. I wandered if the term Muse was used incorrectly to flatter the model or to elevate the artwork. Perhaps the artist used the term to elevate work that was about possessing female beauty. after all People have been depicting what they want most since we dwelt in caves.

 

Or maybe they simply enjoyed female beauty and I am judging them to harshly.

 

 

But what is the truth?

 

I was coming up with possibility after possibility with no way of finding the truth and I don't think I was certain what I was looking for anymore.

 

I felt a sense of confusion and desperation as my mind latched onto all kinds of insights, some useful and some destructive. I decided to go back and try to create structure from these confusing ideas and possibilities.

 

I decided that a Greek muse was an embodiment of an art form, but what she does is aid the artist in performing his or her art.

 

The painted muse is a person, not an embodiment, but what she does is aid the artist in performing his art. How she aids  in the practice of art could be linked to the artists desire to impress,posses, be elevated by or to admire her beauty.

But these ideas weren't bringing me closer to the muse. They were deromanticizing her, reducing her to a list of facts.

Like knowing the composition of the human body tells you what a human is by reducing it to a shopping list. This list isn't enough to enable you to understand what it is to be human, because it ignores the things that make it important.

 

It seemed that the more I tried to reason what a muse was the further I got from understanding what she was.

 

 I decided that drawing and painting her would perhaps bring me closer to understanding than reasoning would. After all, the person or model was simply him or herself until the artist made the painting. The process of this action allowed the model to become a muse.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back

 

I was looking for a meaningful subject, but subjects aren't meaningful. Just as a muse is maid by painting her, meaning is created by devoting yourself to something.

 

Truth is not absolute. The truth can change or be one of many possible truths. Therefore you might as well choose the truth that serves you best.

 

Looking back at the pictures I don't see the confident goddesses embodying art that I thought I was drawing. They look like they are trying to be, but are actually  unsure of what they are supposed to be. Perhaps I think that I am looking for meaning, when I am actually looking for a reason to be confident in my work.

 

In the end I can't say that I have found a muse, but now at least I know where to look.