Beware. You are approaching dogma. Not that this is set in stone. I have put out many extended versions of the list you are about to see. But this one has been my core list for more than a decade, and I can’t imagine teaching this concept without these three items. They help to define a paradigm. There are countless various on the theme that are delightful as art that in various ways represent or seem to represent counterexamples, but my model has these features.
- Appreciation of others’ handiwork
- Intelligent design
- Spontaneous performance
Let me explain these three. The beauties of nature are a resource for the artist. God’s handiwork is all around us, even in the materials in the buildings we spend time in and in our bodies, which we may have polluted. And we learn much from the work of gifted and accomplished artists whose work expresses art’s high mission (art has other legitimate missions—the fun arts, the practical arts—but my concept emphasizes art that ennobles us).
Art is not a creature of impulse, but of design. This does not mean that explicit design must precede each creation; not at all. But some basic decisions at least are needed to order the field of possibilities.
When I speak of performance, I do not limit myself to what are called the performing arts of theater, dance, and music) are not produced mechanically. If mechanisms are involved, there is artistic creation, calibration, and use of the mechanisms. Excellent performance is not nervous and tense but liberated. Even when a musician or actor is performing the same music or the same role over and over again, excellence requires a sincerity of engagement that may well make a noticeable difference in the performance from one occasion to the next.
Here are some of my songs.
And here are some blog posts with an arts emphasis.