Ironically, the classic bio of my favorite painter is called Lust for Life. But lust is a sin that has sabotaged loads of great artists too. Lust is any intense sort of intense and uncontrolled desire — be it for sex, food, drugs, money, fame, power or freshly-poured, frosty lager. Society loves to depict the artist as a lusty, carnal creature — snorting, boozing, copulating, and then self-destructing at 27.
Uncontrolled. Undisciplined. Lust replaces thoughtfulness with raw impulse. You cave in to self-destructive abandon. Instead of doing the necessary work you are distracted. Instead of drawing the model, you drool on him.
Lust makes you myopic. It distorts your normal perspective and gives you tunnel vision, tuning out everything but the object of your desire. And what you see is not real. It’s a thickly veiled concoction of your fevered mind.
Perhaps you are slender and celibate and sugar-free and believe lust is a sin that doesn’t apply to you…
At the heart of sexual lust is a form of depersonalization. Instead of seeing people as human beings, they become sex symbols. Lust for money isn’t about acquiring the things you need. It’s about the symbolic value of wealth, the illusion that it will provide security and satisfy all your needs. You want gazillions you’d probably never spend. Lust for power makes you ruthless, disconnected from the effects of your actions, reduces people to symbols, to pawns on your board. Mwahahahah!
Lust turns reality into abstraction, turns people into symbols, replaces authentic needs with insatiable hunger. And an artist who cannot see or feel or connect is lost. An artist who only deals in symbols cannot find her way to truth.
Lust is obsessiveness. Lust is abstraction. Lust is infantile, sacrificing your higher goals to your basest weakness. Lust is lost in the future, a future of quelled desire that may never come, a future you cannot control.
But creativity requires control. Control over your skills, your materials, but most of all over your vision of the world you are creating.
Perhaps you are slender and celibate and sugar-free and believe lust is a sin that doesn’t apply to you. But look deep and honestly within and look for those impulses that cloud your objectivity, that distort your actions, and color your perceptions.
Really, what about you? Do you lust for perfection? For acknowledgement? For a Winsor & Newton Series 7 Kolinsky Sable Pointed Round #10 watercolor brush with a seamless, cupro-nickel ferrule (list $499.99)?
Fifth in a series on seven deadly creative sins.