2. Imagination and sin.

Flora with Snake, oil on linen, 20 x 18 inches (copyright Steven Kenny)

Flora with Snake, oil on linen, 20 x 18 inches (copyright Steven Kenny)

William Blake (1757-1827), the English poet, painter and printmaker, had a lot to say about imagination. He believed that the world we desire and create is better and more real than the world we see. To put it very clumsily without going deeply into his personal philosophy, Blake believed that God's essence is creative, we are inseparable from God, so we are creative by nature. If there is such a thing as sin, Blake believed, it would be sinful to live an unimaginative life. Luckily, our creativity comes naturally. To live otherwise would be unnatural. I'm not a practicing Catholic but having been raised one I have an inbred aversion to sin. I may not agree entirely with Blake's views but I do take comfort in the idea of creativeness being our natural state.

Treelady, 1998, oil on panel, 25 x 16 inches, private collection (copyright Steven Kenny)

Treelady, 1998, oil on panel, 25 x 16 inches, private collection (copyright Steven Kenny)

I've spent a lot of time thinking about, looking at, and drawing inspiration from Nature. In truth, Nature is ALWAYS in the act of creating. For instance, as a child it was a revelation to learn that trees in winter are not asleep; their roots are still busy below ground, albeit at a slowed pace. Unfortunately, in today's fast-moving world, we often tend to evaluate "slow" as unproductive. When we are unable to perceive change we assume that nothing is happening. Yet, mountains are constantly being eroded while seeming immutable. Deserts appear lifeless but are teeming with activity. Likewise, artistic creativity continues at all times regardless of the number of hours spent in the studio.

Death Before Birth, 2013, oil on canvas, 38 x 24 inches (copyright Steven Kenny)

Death Before Birth, 2013, oil on canvas, 38 x 24 inches (copyright Steven Kenny)

Death also plays an important role. I've come to believe that death is as creative an event as birth. Without it life wouldn't move forward or evolve. It's just one of many points on that unseen wheel that continually spins. So many of my artistic ideas lead to dead ends and are never brought to fruition. Still, they have real value and help me grow as an artist.  The only "sin" in art is to believe that you are not being creative at any given time. Now, take a little creativity-building advice from Einstein, Aristotle, and Salvador Dali and go take a nap.

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