"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,"
~Luke 1:46-47, ESV
"Finally, brothers, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."
I took a walk outside with a friend yesterday and we began to discuss the subject of artistic beauty. It started off as a discussion of colors, but then became an examination of where and how artists can find beauty.
We spoke of Tolkien's explanation of subcreation, and how man (artists) create because we are made in the image of God, and since God is a creator, we cannot help but imitate him by creating things.
And then we talked about beauty. Man cannot create beauty, he can only replicate something that God has already made.
However, I pointed out that sometimes a human work of art can seem even more beautiful than the original. For instance, we were walking around my yard behind my barn. It's spring and it's muddy and the leaves aren't out yet so it's pretty drab. If one was just walking, there wouldn't be much beauty in the sights around us. Yet just the day before, I had taken a camera and managed to find dozens of spots of beauty in the exact same drab places we were walking now.
What an artist really does, we then concluded, is to put a magnifying glass over the beauty that already exists. To draw it into focus, to illuminate it, to magnify God's creation. Whether it is a "Snapshot of random beauty," a painting, a song, or a piece of writing, what an artist does is to draw our attention to and highlight some beauty, truth, or even ugliness of the world.
We do not create these things (although we might create original paintings or clothing or music or stories, they are all based on things that already exist). Yet God gave us eyes, minds and an understanding of his creation so that we might highlight such things. That we might find the beauty in an old chain, the truth in a great tragedy, the ugliness in a life without meaning.