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Tree of Life with Angels and Rivers

Many creators hold their artistic vision with religious zeal.

Artists must develop over time, and they do this by examining and exploring the implications and ramifications of their personal vision of existence. In other words, they explore their philosophy of life. When the artist combines this activity with their view of a particular branch of the arts, what emerges is their artistic vision; the artist’s preferred subject matter and style. The combination is sometimes so unique that the artist’s works, whatever they may be, are instantly recognizable.

Artists create because they want to express their vision. Their powerful need to make sense of life  means they create for their own edification as much as anyone else’s. Yet each artist has his own way of thinking about the nature of vision. Joseph Conrad described vision as, “the inward voice that decides.” Things were more fluid for Virginia Woolf who declared, “The vision must be perpetually remade.”

No matter what the artist thinks about vision, it is vital that they remain true to their own ideas. William Blake saw the artist’s vision as their “genius,” and believed vehemently that, “He knows himself greatly who never opposes his genius.” Blake was something of a creative fanatic. He stood foursquare against creative caution. In his view, “Prudence is a rich, ugly, old maid courted by incapacity.” He was even against reason and deliberation: “I will not reason and compare, my business is to create.”

American writer and editor, Brenda Ueland, a great admirer of Blake, claims that he abhorred the conceit and cowardice that thinks it is modesty. She writes, “It is just fear of acting and making mistakes. It is a refusal to follow one’s vision. It is a wish to get everybody’s approval by being utterly harmless, a zero.” These are strong words, but most serious creators would agree with her.

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