The Beauty of Creating Art

The Beauty of Creating Art January 15, 2024

People love to create artwork. Give any child a box of crayons and they will immediately begin to create a masterpiece for the refrigerator. There is a joy that comes with painting or sculpting and the fruit of that is found in the various art museums all over the world.  People who produce art are imitating God who is the supreme artisan.  Our love of creating art has been given to us by Him. God immensely enjoys creating things and has shown this by crafting works of matchless art throughout the entire universe.  The highlight of all his created works is man.

Man takes after his creator by wanting to create.  The inspiration to create is ingrained in our very being. “That desire is built into us: to take something imprinted within us and make it manifest. To incarnate. Made in God’s image, we share His compulsion to create. J.R.R. Tolkien wrote that we are “co-creators with God.” [1]
Samantha Whitney | Flickr

Although no human artist has or ever will come close to creating a masterpiece as wonderful as creation, we can still create inspiring art that justly reflects the artistry He has ingrained in us to share with others. We create art out of all ready pre-existening material left by our heavenly father; the way a child builds a house out of legos left by his earthly father.

‘The Wright Brothers created their airplane out of wood and metal. Shakespeare created out of words and older stories. Beethoven created out of musical notes. God created works of art from nothing at all.’ [2]

A human artisan makes from a given material whatever he wants, while God shows his power by starting from nothing to make all he wants.” (CCC 296)

Even though man creates out of something and God nothing, there is one common similarity between their creative endeavors. Both artists are taking non-material reality and turning it into a tangible and material object for all to enjoy.  The non-material entity that both God and man bring to their artwork is beauty.  Sometimes partakers of art mistakenly believe that the beauty found in it, is subjective to each individual. A common belief is that all works of art that express the beautiful are thought so, only because a person’s opinion finds it beautiful.  However the beauty that is found in human art and in nature is not a subjective opinion any more then math or logic are the whim and fancy of a mere individual.  Beauty is a real objective non-material reality.  It exists whether we recognize its beauty or not. Beauty flows from God’s very being and is communicated in a material way, as shown in planets, mountains and snowflakes. The beauty expressed in this art reveals His very nature, which is supremely beautiful.

Any human art that is beautiful has tapped into the supreme source of beauty and has let it flow into their material reality in the forms of symphonies, paintings, and sculptures. The beauty expressed in this art reveals the source of all beauty which is God. From this source of all beauty, we create little beauties made in its image. God’s artwork flows out of who he is and our artwork flows out of who we are because man is made in the image and likeness of God. He has given us the ability and skills to imitate Him by being able to make beautiful things.

One of the most easily perceived tangible aspects of beauty is its power to stir wonder and awe in the human soul. It causes us to step outside ourselves and ponder and gaze upon an object that is bigger then we are.  Authentic beauty when properly perceived should cause us to quiver because through beauty we can see reflections of God, from whom all beauty comes.[3]  Any piece of art that reflects beauty also rings out his voice in the object perceived and beckons us to come and wonder.

When certain past cultures ended up mistakenly worshiping God’s works of art as opposed to the artist who made them, they were lead to worship these things by the sheer beauty of the objects they perceived.  It wasn’t just a mere subjective opinion that the sun, moon, and ocean inspired wonder and awe amongst those that believed them to be God. The wonder and awe radiated fourth from the objective beauty weaved in by the artist. Created natural objects, “if they, being delighted, took them to be gods: let them know how much the Lord of them is more beautiful than they: for the first [artist] of beauty made all those things. For by the greatness of the beauty, and of the creature, the creator of them may be seen, so as to be known thereby.” Wis. 13:  3, 5

Tammy McGary | Flickr

Throughout church history, individuals have tapped into the source of beauty and let it flow into their art.  It is God himself who places this seed of creativity within a person, leading them to use it to communicate God’s reality through beautiful objects shown in music, buildings and paintings. Even if artists don’t believe in God, they are none the less giving evidence to Him through creating beautiful works of art, be it a sculpture or a well shot photograph. Unbelief does not block the rays of God’s reality from shining fourth through beauty crafted by unbelievers, because they are still made in His image and likeness and their creative inspiration to create beautiful works of art comes from Him made them with this desire.

Several painters including Fra Angelico and Michael Angelo have created artwork that shows beauty and stirs the soul to contemplation about the divine artist.

Beautiful music has done an equally good job of leading one to stand in God’s presence including Mozart and Bach. Peter Kreeft finds Bach’s music so inspiring that he included this argument in his ‘Handbook on Apologetics’ for the existence of God. “There is the music of John Sebastian Bach. There fore there is a God.  You either see this one or you don’t.”  Music and Paintings are some of the best examples of human created beauty, but are not the only mediums used for bringing it fourth.  There is also beauty to be found in written words.

Great writing can move the soul as powerfully as a sunset or the Pieta.  God reveals his beautiful words to humanity in the printed words of the bible. Great poets, playwrights, and novelists through the centuries have captured the beauty of the human person in their poems, plays and novels. As God incarnated his word in human flesh, people have incarnated their words in books.  Good books carry around the essence of human beauty in its pages.  Books can create beautiful works of art that only the imagination can bring to life.  Books are another way humans can express and capture beauty in a tangible way for all to enjoy at anytime.

“Atticus said to Jem one day, “I’d rather you shot at tin cans in the backyard, but I know you’ll go after birds. Shoot all the blue jays you want, if you can hit ‘em, but remember it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.” That was the only time I ever heard Atticus say it was a sin to do something, and I asked Miss Maudie about it. “Your father’s right,” she said. “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing except make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corn cribs, they don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out for us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”
― Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird

For centuries humans have expressed their God-given talent for creating beauty in music, pictures, and words. In the last 100 years or so, there has developed a rather underappreciated art form that can express beauty by combining all these mediums and more and that is the art of filmmaking.

‘Filmmaking is the art of choice for most of people living today. It combines several unique combinations of things including acting, musical composition, photography and a careful arrangement of visual imagery. The different camera angles in a film show a careful arrangement of different camera shots brought together to create a sequence of images with meaning.’ [4]

A film can capture the beauty of God’s creation and combine it with the beauty of good music and compulsive story telling as it did in the film ‘The Mission’, which tells the story of two Jesuits who interact with a tribe of Indians in the beautiful mountains of South America. Mel Gibson captured the beauty of God’s love manifested in Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross in ‘The Passion of the Christ’.  If Michael Angelo had made a movie, that would have been it. As the men run down the beach in ‘Chariots of Fire’, the unforgettable musical score brings a sense of awe as the combined beauty of image and music flow together. Beauty can also be found when filmmakers imitate God by creating entire new worlds that don’t exist in our universe, but do in the world of cinema.  It took long work and real artistry to create the planets in Star Wars or the lands of middle earth in ‘Lord of the Rings’. These films show fourth the beautiful creativity of the filmmaker.

Beauty is an attribute of God that flows from his invisible nature into His created artwork of creation. His masterpiece of art made in his image and likeness, imitate their creator by letting the beauty that has been formed in them flow out into their paintings, sculptures, music, literature and film. God enjoys creating things that display His beauty and people also enjoy creating things that display God’s beauty, whether they know it or not. The Beauty that shines fourth always brings with it the power to stimulate awe and wonder because it always points to the God, from whom all beauty flows. May our love of God’s beauty always inspire to beget more beauty as gratitude for the beauty he has so lovingly given us to enjoy.

[1]  Jeffrey Overstreet, Through a Screen Darkly, Pg. 110

[2] Peter Kreeft, Because God is Real.

[3] Thomas Dubay, The Evidential Power of Beauty.

[4] Barbara Nicolosi, Cinema: The power of Visual Imagery, The Catholic Imagination.

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