Sometimes we are clumsy and grouchy, sometimes skillful and grouchy, sometimes clumsy and joyous. Artistic living is skillful and joyous. Artistic living is our contribution to making the world more beautiful.
Artistic living means, first of all, getting involved with the arts, and today that’s easy to do. Much of the arts can be found on the internet, and there are many opportunities to hear live music and see real paintings in galleries and three-dimensional sculptures in the round. Museums around the world draw increasing numbers of people, and the interest in contemporary art is soaring. Theater is readily available.
At their best, the arts uplift us: painting, sculpture, and literature expand our capacity to perceive and understand; music cultivates our feeling. Without being preachy, dance can uplift our posture, gesture, and movement, architecture our dwelling, and drama our action and character. Charmed, we listen, read, or watch, caught up in the aesthetic object that addresses our senses and intellect. We are touched by portrayals so subtle and complex that we could never adequately put into words their nuances of feeling. In society, joy may become a cliché; but the arts function as a school of feeling that saves us from fixed and frozen stereotypes of feeling.
Artistic living takes inspiration from the arts and applies to daily life the virtues that great artists (known and unknown) apply in their work. Here are a few of the key principles of artistic living. It avoids aestheticism by honoring beauty’s bonds with truth and goodness. It involves design and performance. It embraces humor, play, sports, gardening, crafts. It composes the things we need to do into a reasonable, harmonious order, so that we don’t overburden ourselves with unreasonable expectations.