The Profound Artist

“To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.”
Jasper Johns

The Profound Artist

When someone says, “He’s elevated that to an art form”, I believe it. I think that there are more things that can be an art form than we normally imagine. And, you do hear it all around you, maybe you are at the salon and someone says, “She’s an artist with those scissors”.

Art making has two elements; the technique and the crafting. That is it! We academics try to layer on things like “intention” or “process” but that stuff all sits on top and only if you want to talk about it; which is something that I enjoy doing very much.

The Profound Artist is not looking to make profound art. In fact, I am not sure that there is such a thing except when experienced by the consumer of that art, they may feel a profound thing. The Profound Artist is looking for their own profound moments and experiences with in the making of their art.

The Technique side of art making can get over-looked easily. We consumers look at the crafted piece. However, the artist when crafting is all about the technique. How often when learning about a painter, like Jasper Johns, does the learning include studying the brush strokes?

Sometimes I wonder about, back in the 1700s, when and if a person asked a dancer how they did what they did and could they teach it. Of course, that dancer would want to say “you just go dance”. But, when forced, will have to break it down. “Well, first you have bend your knees and since that sounds overly simple, lets use French and call it a plié.”

Asking an artist to break down their technique for the purpose of teaching is totally clumsy. Learning to dice onions and practicing that technique ultimately has little to do with cooking. But, if you have to teach it, you start with learning the tools whether it is a paint brush, a knife, a guitar or your own body. It is a long (long) step from technique to crafting.

How many people have gotten stuck in the technique and have never stepped beyond it? We call them studio musicians and assistant directors and brush washers and accountants and editors! Serving a master is a noble thing too.

The Profound Artist strives to be inside of that technique and not let the brain wander. Getting into the depth of playing a chord or stirring the perfect sauce or performing a plié keeps the artist balanced when applying the technique to craft. This forces an inherent honesty in the work and honesty is the first true step in being an artist.

Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead used to talk about the need of carpets on the stage. He’s ask the question of how could he get into his guitar and connect with his band mates if his feet hurt?

The Profound Artist is looking for those profound moments in the technique. Those moments of sudden clarity and acceleration and new vision inside of the technique to then apply to the craft.


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