What It Takes To Create A Work Of Art

Last week I went to the Tate to see an exhibition on the work of the French sculptor, Rodin.

He produced some fantastic works of art including, The Kiss and The Thinker. Although, my favourite is The Burghers Of Calais.

It’s a sculpture of six men with ropes around their necks. It was based on the story that in 1346, Calais was besieged by King Edward III of England. He agreed to spare the townspeople if six of their leaders surrendered with ropes around their necks, ready for execution. Ultimately they were spared, but the sculpture captures the moment when they are standing with the ropes around their necks in readiness for their execution.

The detail is astounding. They look entirely lifelike. The expression and detail on their faces is unnerving.

Now, what did it take to create this?

Well, apart from years of dedication to his craft, it took a great deal of patience. You can’t rush pieces of art like this.

Rodin had a saying about patience:

“Patience is also a form of action.”

It can be easy to get swept along in the daily chaos of modern life, but if you want to create a work of art, you need to slow down.

For the actor, this means taking the time to sculpt their instrument – their mind and body.

Becoming a great actor is not an overnight experience it takes time and patience.

When I looked at Rodin’s work, I wondered how many days, weeks or even months he spent on one aspect of the human body.

For the actor, sometimes you just need to focus and practice on one aspect at a time, perfecting it. Then one day, the instrument is ready for performance.

If you want to be an acting artist, which is the highest form of acting, you need to demonstrate patience.

We live in a society where people don’t need to be patient anymore, and increasingly many don’t like being patient.

If you want a movie, you can download it instantly.

When I was a teenager (pre tinternet), you had to go to a video store and rent a videotape. If it was a popular movie, the chances are it wasn’t available as someone else had rented it. Then you would rent another one (probably not as good, but there was no way of knowing as there were no online reviews) and waste two hours of your life watching it. Then you had to return it a day or two later, and if you forgot (this happened to me so many times it wasn’t funny), you got charged again!

Different times.

The good news is that if you embrace patience, you will stand out from the crowd.

While the impatient look for their next quick fix of ‘instant’, you will be slowly and patiently chiselling away at your craft.

Then one day, the impatient will look at your work and wonder how you did it before they become distracted by something new and shiny.