Success within the artistic world of expression and communication is often elusive, even to those creating and speaking in it.

Create something so abstract that people don’t know what you’re trying to say, and you’ve missed the point of that art form; create something so generic for the sake of making a buck, and life gets–well–boring.

But creating something that speaks to a collective heartbeat, while still making individuals feel uniquely awed, is one of the greatest successes a creator can have.

I’ve seen paintings so terribly abstract that I’m convinced not even the artist knows what he was trying to paint (mostly likely because he was on some bad hippie lettuce). I’ve also seen song writers throw out their classical training and write the most predictably pathetic worship sings simply because they knew the mass-market would buy it and everybody could sing it.

The earlier drug reference aside, both scenarios are faulted.

For one, artists need to be thoughtfully specific. They need to have an audience in mind. “I’m creating for __________.” And secondly they must have a motive. A destination in mind. “Before he or she experienced my piece, the person was at point A, but after my offering, he or she should at least be on their way to point B.”

This is the business side. Art must connect with people if it is to be sellable, if it is going to reach a wider audience than just someone’s grandma or college roommates. It needs to have a certain packability that can be simply expressed and communicated in such a way that the public wants more.

But too obvious, and art risks its greatest foe: being cliché.

All artists I know, whether audio or visual, want to be original. They want to be ahead of the curve, authentic, and pushing boundaries.

This is the artistic side.

Art displays life as it could be, in a more perfect sense. A well written and executed worship song elevates our perception of and experience with God (arguably all good art does this); a powerful painting depicts a brighter sky than the one we are presently under; a moving dance stirs the core of a person’s soul to love their spouse more deeply; a drama convicts us of error and endorses a more steadfast line of integrity.

The problem? Art was never meant for your sketch book. Such a terminally ill condition is the lifelong lot of some humanity’s great creative ideas. In short, your art has to sell. Whether it’s your lack of motivation or your unrelenting pursuit of the obscure, you’ve get to bend to the fact that your gift needs to be shared if it is to ultimately glorify its Creator.

We all know our fair share of “broke artists.” But more often that’s the case of an artist that doesn’t know how to “market” themselves than a public who’s unwilling to purchase. Or it’s the case of an artist who has never fully embraced the confidence that God has in them to create meaningful works of art.

He should know. He put it there.

Because God made us to create life-symphonies that impact the whole world just like His have. ch:



Christian Fahey · 16 Jul ’11 at 8:28 am

“I’ve also seen song writers throw out their classical training and write the most predictably pathetic worship sings simply because they knew the mass-market would buy it and everybody could sing it.” Word. No, double Word. Headed back to my own classical roots for similar reasons. Word also on pointless abstractionism. Good thoughts C. Thax.

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Jul ’11 at 8:35 am

    Oooo, excited to hear what your brilliant mind will create next. Glad I could spur you on. Do it! (And show me first!)

Christian Fahey · 16 Jul ’11 at 8:51 am

Thanks bro. Will do. The classical training has helped more times than I can count (more in performance and versatility with other music forms with guitar or piano in hand). I shall have to write!

Melissa Berrien · 16 Jul ’11 at 3:59 pm

This is sooo true.I would get so frustrated during various art classes when we would discuss certain ” masters”….and I would definitely challenge the art as a masterpiece- based on talent and intent verses a product of a popular “artist”.Thanks for sharing!As someone that creates in so many ways, I am still very private with my art, music, writings; but whenever I share them with someone, they are touched, inspired and amazed.I never really thought of my writing for an example as a gift from God…to impact the kingdom….hmmmmm……just as I was about to break out the easel…I am challenged to view my artistic self a bit differently……:)

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Jul ’11 at 4:56 pm

    Awesome, Melissa.

    Another thought to consider is the fundamental ideology that gifts are never solely for the one they are bestowed upon; the intrinsic nature of a gift from God is that it is used to bless others. So more often than not, the sin we’re guilty of–either willingly or by ignorance–is that of thievery. We are, in affect, robbing people of an experience that could possibly point them to God when we do not share what God has given us to share.

    So go create something great!

Melissa Berrien · 16 Jul ’11 at 4:00 pm

“Or it’s the case of an artist who has never fully embraced the confidence that God has in them to create meaningful works of art.”-well put…I can identify

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Jul ’11 at 4:57 pm

    Hear His words over you! You are fearfully and wonderfully made!

Katie · 16 Jul ’11 at 4:51 pm

Hmmm. Very cool. Love the ending point. I’ve been considering getting back into art… Thanks CH

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Jul ’11 at 4:57 pm

    Consider no more, Katie. LEAP BACK IN! The world needs your artistic finger print upon it.

Melissa Berrien · 16 Jul ’11 at 5:56 pm

*shaking my head in acknowledgment* Dusting off the blog, setting up the easel and starting those books….*sigh* Lord it was never my intention to rob your people….help me birth these ideas…..I AM fearfully an wonderfully made!!!
Thanks again…:)

Maegan · 16 Jul ’11 at 6:22 pm

Wow, thanks for the advice, Sir Hopper! That advice helps with more than just the painting type of art. All writers here can probably use it in THEIR art, too! Myself included 🙂
I must say that Merriam Webster is deluded about art:

art-the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively, as paintings, sculptures, or drawings

WHAT?!?! That’s like saying that a human being is nothing but blood, bone and muscle! Thank you for your advice! *disappears, carrying pens and paintbrushes*

    Christopher Hopper · 16 Jul ’11 at 7:11 pm

    I like the sound I hear of your instruments of art-making rattling around in a tin bucket. Do it up girly!

rachel · 16 Jul ’11 at 9:09 pm

Thanks for the advice! I think a) I need to fix my current book, and b) I need to start writing songs again!

Vrenith · 17 Jul ’11 at 4:02 pm

O_o Love this post.

I am an artist–the drawing and painting kind (though I do write as well). I’ve been trying to draw pictures that have emotion in them–a playful puppy, a solemn lion, a horse that has a look of freedom in his eye. But I still have problems with showing people because I think of all the flaws in it instead of all the good things. 😛 I need to learn to embrace it, like you said. I give away drawings to waitresses and such sometimes. I want to someday sell my art, and I hope that comes true.

I am a realism painter, though I do like abstract art. But when it pushes over the edge, it just shows confusion. Your eyes can’t really take it in, and it bothers me because there’s not anything meaningful in it. I chose realism because, even though sometimes its harder, I can put my emotions into it. I want to CRY when I do a sad picture, I want to smile when its happy. And I want others to feel the same. In abstract art, a lot of the time, its just shapes and strange, alien shapes that you can’t relate with. The Mona Lisa painting is so famous because she has emotion–mysterious emotion.

So, those are my thoughts. 🙂


    Christopher Hopper · 18 Jul ’11 at 2:44 am

    Vrenith: cool name, yo!

    I love your missional attitude with your art (giving drawings away to waitresses, etc). I think you have something beautifully original just in that right there that God can use immensely! Keep those kinds of selfless-giving ideas rolling.

    Remember that art is only supposed to document where you are today, not where you wish you were. Relax in your gifts today, and create with them. Then you’ll see less of what you think are mistakes, and more of your present piece’s beauty. And be sure not to rob people of experiencing your art simply because you’re worried about it’s flaws; such an attitude can become dangerous (and painful for them!).

    Go create and share! Love your heart.

Sarah Rice · 17 Jul ’11 at 11:14 pm

WOW.. thanx for the encouragment… My paintings just stay in my room in a folder.
Maybe its time to get my paints out and see what God brings. And do something with the paintings, no idea what… lol

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Jul ’11 at 2:45 am


    The whole point of trust is not knowing! Let’s see!

      Sarah Rice · 18 Jul ’11 at 10:46 pm

      Well said…
      I LOVE to paint… But I want them to mean something….to tell a story. I want there to be more then just color on a page. But I dont know how to accomplish something like that. Im basically a self taught artist. So, it would really have to be an “all God” thing…

        Christopher Hopper · 19 Jul ’11 at 8:19 am

        Absolutely a “God thing.” Though don’t discount lessons. One of the reasons we read books about the Bible written by other people who have a deeper knowledge of it is simply because what we presently know is not enough. Same goes for the rest of life. I need to mix into my artistic “appetite” not only seasons of fasting from other artists, but also seasons where I’m taught skills directly.

          Sarah Rice · 20 Jul ’11 at 3:59 am

          I have wanted to take art lessons for years… There are A LOT of artist’s, galleries, and places to get lessons around here. But honestly I cant afford it. 🙁 So, Im just simply “winging it” on my own. Right now my dream would be to enter the “Plein Air” contest here. And then try to get my art in a local gallery…

          Christopher Hopper · 20 Jul ’11 at 7:48 am

          I love plein air! Did a few pieces during one in my town that still hang in my home today.

          As for lessons, I bet you could find some good free video tutorials online (YouTube) in your desired medium. Just a thought.

          Sarah Rice · 22 Jul ’11 at 5:57 pm

          Yes Plein Air is very cool!! Do you have pics of your art antwhere? FB or on here? Would love to see them…
          Videos are a good idea. I would have to go somewhere with wifi though. We dont have good access to internet at my house. I’ll get lessons someday…until then I do have books. 🙂

          Christopher Hopper · 22 Jul ’11 at 8:30 pm

          Oooo maybe I’ll post some pics since you mentioned it!

          Sarah Rice · 23 Jul ’11 at 10:12 pm

          ooooo… YAY!!!

          Guess what?!?!?! A lady I know owns a gallery and might feature and sell my art!!!!!!!!!

          Christopher Hopper · 23 Jul ’11 at 10:56 pm

          Come on now! That ROCKS!

          Sarah Rice · 24 Jul ’11 at 8:35 pm

          I’M TOTALLY SERIOUS!!!!!!! It’s not 100% yet, I have to wait until we clear out some stuff in her gallery. But she likes my art so… yeah.
          I’M EXCITED!!!!

          Christopher Hopper · 25 Jul ’11 at 7:42 am

          So stoked for you!

          Sarah Rice · 25 Jul ’11 at 8:45 pm

          Thank You!!! 🙂
          I’m SO excited!!! I’m going to her house/gallery tomorow.

Nathan R. · 18 Jul ’11 at 9:01 am

My mom has been painting all her life, sold a few here and there, but mostly for friends and family. This past year she decided to try selling her prints of a series she’s painted recently. Then she asked me to make a website so people can order online. It’s 98% done, (Feedback welcome)

I’m really proud of my mom taking this leap of faith.

    Christopher Hopper · 18 Jul ’11 at 9:09 am

    Man, good for her! This is a fabulous move indeed.

    Site is clean, simple. She have more paintings coming?

      Nathan R. · 18 Jul ’11 at 11:15 pm

      Thanks. She has 4 more of the same series (I think). These are ideal for a church foyer/office (hint, hint).

Vrenith · 18 Jul ’11 at 5:57 pm

Heh, thanks, CH. 🙂 Encouragement is the best form of kindness. I really want to learn to draw Jesus, and I’ve been trying. My work is getting better, and I’m really thankful for my art because its what keeps me connected with Him.

Thanks, CH. The encouragement is the best part. The more I like what I draw, put my heart into it, the less I see the flaws. Don’t get me wrong–there are still flaws. I’ll learn to fix ’em with time, I guess. But time isn’t something you can change, so thanks. And anyways, what good is it if I always see the flaws? After all, there always *will* be flaws. THANKS!!

And I’m going to try to eventually sell my art–once I get enough pieces to do it properly. 🙂 I’m actually getting lessons from an artist that I’d read about–and found out she lives fifteen minutes from my house. 🙂

Thanks for the encouragement, (to say so again, ;))

    Christopher Hopper · 19 Jul ’11 at 8:16 am

    You’re so welcome! And how cool is that about your new artist teacher? 15min away? Cool!

Venaril NightBlade · 20 Nov ’14 at 12:50 am

Good stuff, Sir Hopper! If I may be a few years behind in saying so…x)

    Christopher Hopper · 20 Nov ’14 at 2:45 pm

    It’s never too late for a kind word, bro.

    How’d you stumble on this one anyway?

      Venaril NightBlade · 20 Nov ’14 at 9:23 pm


      Well, I was digging through old Underground posts and saw one about art, which piqued my interest of course, and here it led me!

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