The 10th Muse

Probably everyone who visits an art museum more than once is a closet or out-in-the-open visual artist of some sort or another.  Look at artwork by Picasso – the comments might be “so childish” or “so perceptive!” depending upon who they are with, but the underlying message is the same = I could do that!

And they could.  Picasso’s daughter at age 5 did a finger painting that sold for $250,000.00 because it was signed (honestly), Picasso.  Pablo laughed uproariously when it sold for such a high price, but kept the money.

Okay not everyone.  Classes of students being dragged against their will to the art museum might not have everyone enthralled within the first few minutes.  But those who return of their own volition?  Yes.  They are artists every one of them.  No exceptions.  Untrained. Possibly.  Without practiced eye-hand coordination.  Very possible.  Not thinking about how they might create something beautiful or clever themselves.  Not a chance.  Every one of them is an artist wannabee, if not an artist in fact.

This could be the salvation of humanity.

Caravaggio turned the traditional protocols of how to do paintings of human bodies on their heads by painting directly from the model.  No sketch. No preliminary.  Just bang. Go for it…  If he wasn’t nursing a hangover or a wound from brawling.  Painted a phenomenal number of paintings in his short-cheated life of 38 years.  Those inspired by his audacity, perspicacity, insight, bravery – may have painted better paintings than he did (if better means anything when it comes to art) but it was his genius that transformed the art.  Not everyone is a Caravaggio.  But, I’ll bet you everyone who visits an art museum would love to be able to paint human forms with the skill he did, even those who deny it verbally.  Who doesn’t want to be a magician?  Trick the eye of the beholder into seeing a 3D human body with conflicted emotions when looking at some minerals embedded in oil resins stuck to some plant fibers?  So cool!

Back to the museum visitors:  What about turning museums into teaching learning centers?  If all the visitors are budding painters, draughtspersons, and so on – why not couple training in how to do this stuff.  Drawing improves your ability to see.  That is not hyperbole or PR or whatever.  Painting improves your ability to see.  so does intentional art photography.  Any of these visual arts require that you be in the present and pay attention and focus.  This is not fluff.  You can measure the changes in the brain with an MRI.  You can assess the improvement in a biology exam.  If students draw in detail what it is that they see under the microscope, they see more and do better on tests about those organisms or cell structures.  If they do not draw WITH ATTENTION TO DETAIL –  their grades reflect it.

So, you join the museum.  Pay your annual dues.  But instead of just dropping by every once in a while to see a new exhibit, what if there were drawing instructors there every day of the week?  Painters standing by?  Several classes a day.  Not as some high priced “add on” but part of what the museum did?  Would you go?  I would.

There were nine muses according to the ancient Greeks.  One for history, one for dance, and so on.  I was sure there was one for painting or drawing or the visual arts.  Nope, just looked it up: Calliope -epic poetry; Clio -history; Euterpe -flutes and lyric poetry; Thalia -comedy and pastoral poetry; Melpomene -tragedy; Terpsichore -dance; Erato -love poetry; Polyhymnia -sacred poetry; Urania -astronomy.  I was wrong.  Despite there being art museums, there was no muse for the visual arts.  So we need a tenth muse!  No big deal.  The Greeks didn’t have everything figured out for all time in the 3rd century BC.   How about Perceptione, muse of painting, drawing, and photography.  Or maybe that territory is already staked out by some other Goddess?


One thought on “The 10th Muse

  1. In Stephen Cope’s book on the Bhagavad Gita “The Greatest Work of your Life” -all about finding your dharma, the process of mastery. And how dharma changes – there’s a whole section on Carravaggio. It’s pretty fascinating and beautiful.
    You should read it, for so many reasons. Put it as number 1 on your reading list.

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