I wish I had written down a great quote someone posted on Twitter the other day. It went something like this: What a blank canvas is to the artist and empty paper is to the writer, silence is to the musician. Since my creative interests carry me into the realms of art and music as well as writing, I’ve faced all three – most recently, the blank canvas.
This morning I started the painting that I hope will turn into the cover art for The Darcys of Pemberley. As I mentioned before (see Pemberley, the Picturesque), it will be loosely based on a view of Lyme House from the ’95 BBC production of Pride and Prejudice. Here’s the work-in-progress.
It has a long way to go. The house looks a little cold and lonely right now. I need to warm up the color, get the water looking like water, and do the entire foreground. But at least all that white canvas is gone. So, I’ve made it over the first hurdle.
It’s the same for writing and singing; the hardest part is getting started. Staring at that ream of blank paper (or computer screen) is intimidating. Venturing out into an empty, expectant silence can be scary. That sensible, timid voice in my head tells me, “It’s too risky. Safer not to try. Public humiliation awaits.” Right now, for instance, I’m guessing you’re not all that impressed with my artistic abilities (and I’m not all that confident in them either, to tell you the truth).
So, why do people keep painting, writing, and making music? Not for any tangible reward; most artists/writers/musicians will never see big fame or fortune. I think we’re simply compelled to fill the void. We can’t NOT do it. Seen in proper perspective, those blank canvases, empty pages, and vacant silences are not foreboding. Each one is an open invitation that’s too good to bypass, an irresistible opportunity to share a creative vision with others, the chance to make daily life a little richer.
I would rarely agree with Mrs. Elton, but she makes a good point here (which applies to all the arts, not only music): “I honestly said that…the world was not necessary to me…Certainly I had been accustomed to every luxury at Maple Grove; but I did assure him that two carriages were not necessary to my happiness, nor were spacious apartments. ‘But,’ said I, ‘I do not think I can live without something of a musical society. I condition for nothing else; but without music, life would be a blank to me.'” (Emma, chapter 32)
Blank: Not marked; lacking features or interest; uneventful or unproductive; emptiness of mind. Now, we can’t have that, can we?