Michelangelo was an artist. He painted the Genesis scene on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in Rome, sculpted the Pietà, made a name in architecture with his involvement in St Peter’s Basilica and wrote poetry. To this day still he is regarded as the quintessential Renaissance man. He is regarded as an artist. But art isn’t exclusive to just painting, music, writing or being creative. Art is everything.
When you generally think of art you think of Monet, Picasso, something that is put up in a frame in a museum, something that is painted, something that is beautiful. When you think of art, you might think of art classes in primary school, getting messy, doing finger paint or messing paint on your school shirt. But is art about pencil or brush meeting paper? Is art just about creating something beautiful?
There is an art of doing. Regardless of the occupation you have chosen, there exists an art of mastering your craft, through the sheer determination and patience of an individual who strives to be a master. How the intricate mechanics of an engine work or how a chef makes a beautiful cake or how a gardener tends a garden. The pursuit of excellence and the creation of a masterpiece of your trade lends itself to being an art.
Creativity is the reason we have bridges, cars, medical equipment saving lives, telecommunication systems. Self-expression of the human mind is more often than not limited by the amount of fear the individual has of failure. The gauging of a situation, estimating what the possible outcome could be and the innate fear of failure. Mastery of art is created by failing. Failing over and over again. Failing until you realise where you made a mistake and where you had a stroke of genius. True artists persist. They never give up. They have doors slammed in their faces, they receive rejection constantly, but they never give up. By honing their craft and becoming aware of their strengths and limitations, fear starts falling away. A pioneering spirit will emerge.
Art is about pushing boundaries, not only in terms of creativity or thought or feeling or opinion. Art is about becoming a master at your trade, obsessively creating a career that is a masterpiece. There was a time when Michelangelo was afraid. But he got over that. He started painting early in his life and built an illustrious legacy. There was also a time when Henry Ford was afraid, or Nikola Tesla or Isaac Newton. They also kept going, chipping away and eventually changing the world. Michelangelo gave us grand paintings, awe-inspiring architecture and stunning sculptures. But he could also have created a car, built an aeroplane or designed a city, if he put his mind to it, because he is an artist. I’m even sure he would have been able to bake a kick-ass cake.