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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Magnificent Obsession or Compulsive Fixation -- It’s all in your Point of View

"Flash Dance" 16 x 20 mixed media on canvas

Long before I was born, Lloyd C. Douglas wrote a book called "Magnificent Obsession" that was made into several movies. The theme of the book and of the 1954 adaptation starring Jane Wyman and Rock Hudson was that doing good for others, especially if done in secret or without praise or recognition, could become an obsession; a magnificent obsession.

When I read “The Agony and the Ecstasy,” a book written by Irving Stone about the life of Michelangelo I thought of that movie. The book described the life of the early masters: their struggles, their weaknesses, their triumphs over hunger, temptation and difficulty and their obsession with their craft.

"With These Hands -- Wonder" oil on 18 x 24 canvas
This painting has sold more prints than any of my other paintings.
They learned how to draw the figure by studying cadavers; a gruesome exercise that proved enlightening. Michelangelo’s painting of the Sistine Chapel was the triumph of his career. But his greatest personal achievement his “Magnificent Obsession” his “Agony and Ecstasy” was the Pieta, a sculpture of Mary holding the crucified Christ.

The word magnificent perfectly describes the results of his work: superb, wonderful, splendid, glorious, brilliant, marvelous, grand. He used his gifts to portray Biblical scenes and make them come alive.
"Beach Buddies" 18 x 24 mixed media on canvas
This is the next best seller in my portfolio
The word “obsession” describes Michelangelo’s passion for his work. The synonym “fixation” has both negative and positive meanings: fascination and addiction. There is a difference between obsession or passion and addiction. The synonym “compulsive” says it best: obsessive, neurotic, habitual, irrational, and uncontrollable.

If we have a passion or obsession for our work, there is joy and love that flows from our heart into our fingertips, and into our work. We are in control of what we do. Our emotions emanate through our thought processes and into the finished product.

If our behavior and our work are compulsive, obsessive and uncontrollable, our work will lack consistency and cohesiveness. It will reflect our inner state of being and appear irrational or neurotic.

"He Lives" 16 x 20 mixed media on wrapped canvas
When we harness our own passion or “magnificent obsession” our work becomes compelling, attention grabbing and interesting. Our work flows freely, our thoughts are uninhibited, and we become one with the canvas rather than dominating it, forcing it, or thrashing it to death.

When we recognize our own strength, we reach a pinnacle and there’s no turning back. Like climbing a mountain, we rise to new levels. We reach the heights of all that we are. When the project, the book or the canvas is finished, we are sad.

The journey begins again when we start afresh, not because we have to or because we can’t stop, but because our life is fulfilled when we practice our craft, touch brush to canvas and share our joy with the world.