choosing an artistic vision

I've been thinking lately about art, about what I think makes good art. It seems obvious that the highly accomplished photographic masterpieces and the prize-winning novels are good art. But the pictures and stories I myself think are best are those which truly inspire and touch my heart, not just my locus of aesthetic appreciation : the photographs of domestic charm which encourage me to make a little more effort in my life, the old, scruffy novels which I always reach for when I'm feeling sick.

Of course, great artists can achieve this too - although in my experience there seems to be a slight aloofness to the masterpiece, as if what makes it superior is its transcendence of the commonplace. I stand in wonder and reverence before great art. It inspires me on higher levels. This is art for the spirit. But just as valuable, just as good, is the art for the heart.

All that I know
Of a certain star,
Is, it can throw
(Like the angled spar)
Now a dart of red,
Now a dart of blue,
Till my friends have said
They would fain see, too,
My star that dartles the red and the blue!

Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled:
They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it.
What matter to me if their star is a world?
Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it. 

Robert Browning

When I ask myself what kind of art I want to create, I naturally wish I had the talent to write or photograph a masterpiece. And I am often tempted to favour darker, grittier photographs rather than those of flowers, lace dresses, willow trees, because they are more properly artistic. But my dearest goal is to create something which makes another person connect with their own sense of beauty, comfort, and dreams.

I'd love to encourage people, through my writing or pictures, to gather wildflowers, or bake themselves a cake for lunch just because they deserve loveliness, or daydream their own magical stories. Small, domestic art for the ordinary heart. Because small is just as important as greatness. And ordinary is mostly what we have, so why not cherish and honour it?

I've used photographs by Kerri Anne Pink of Gingerlillytea (copied from pinterest) to illustrate this post because, while there are many artists and photographers I deeply admire, I have always, over many years now, found myself going to her gallery first. The wildflower meadows, the dreamy peace ... this is the art of the beautiful word, and Kerri captures it with true sympathy.


  1. I'm so glad I came to visit you here before I headed off to work. Because you have said so much that's in my heart.

    What you speak of is one of the reasons I've chosen faith and self-belief, not as hubris, but as hope. And as a genuine desire to give, even a small, quiet dose of heart-medicine. There are masterpieces, and great Art, and there are also the healing arts. Beauty and hope can be unassuming, and quietly encountered. Blessings to you. xx

  2. Yes. To both you and Antoinette. This kind of gentle outsider art/ needed right now as everything whizzes around us. Thank you for this and all your work. X

  3. Oh I love what you're saying. And I love your pictures. To me they're a reminded to see the beauty around me, in little things. I think we can bring something good to the world like this, by inspiring others in our own unique way. And sometimes pictures have a feeling behind them, as though they carry the energy of the person who took them.

  4. Art is everywhere, all around us, in us. It is hope and life and love. It is of the soul.
    Wonderful post, Sarah.

  5. i think---no, i know---that we need both styles of art. the dark and grand and piercing kind, and the gentle and humble and heart-warming kind. our souls feed on both. i have a great fondness for japanese art and architecture, much of which celebrate the beauty of nature and quietude...inspiration comes in numerous forms, not all of which are transcendent. the beauty of a willow tree by a river or stream shakes me through and through, no less than great artworks do.

    i know that star from the browning poem! i've always wondered what its name is, and why other people i point it out to don't see the red and blue flickers...

  6. I love the pictures you have selected, they are very much what I would have expected you to choose, as is the poem, which I had not heard of before. Recently on Pinterest I have found some beautiful photographs from a Russian mother who photographs her children with animals - they are absolutely mesmeric and beautifully shot, with such tenderness - it makes me so envious when I see what really talented people can produce which make my efforts seem rather poor in comparison.

  7. This is just what my heart needed today.. this is what I have been seeking.. I am deeply longing for creative growth.. in the tiniest of ways, but in the most meaningful. A new way to see is what I yearn for. Perhaps a new way to be.