"They were looking at the same thing the painter was looking at, but did not notice its beauty…"
The vocation of the painter, indeed the vocation of any artist, is first and foremost, to create beauty. Even evil, when depicted in their work, must depicted beautifully. Art that is ugly and shallow, with no Truth behind it, shows us a world without God.
The role of the artist is to draw people beyond their work, to reflect upon the Truth that underlies the image. This is beautifully expressed in the following parable.
There was a painter who had an ability to see and depict the Beauty. This ability surprised other people! They were looking at the same thing the painter was looking at, but did not notice its beauty… They had not noticed it until the painter turned that which was seen by him and by them — into a perfect picture!
The painter was the great Master of Beauty. He touched with the sight of the soul what he observed — and depicted beautiful moments of the Eternal Existence on his canvases. And then a miracle happened: the Beauty unnoticeable before — became clearly visible for anyone who looked at the picture of the Master!
Once he started to draw a portrait of a thin and unremarkable girl, whom no one had considered beautiful before. And she also felt shy because of her subtlety and tenderness, because of her fragile figure — and always cast her eyes down shyly… “She is so ugly and thin… but you are going to draw her!…” — people said to the painter.
But he did not listen to those who were saying that — and kept drawing. Suddenly, subtlety, grace, the tender oval of her face, and the depth of her eyes appeared on the canvas, creating a beautiful image.
She observed it almost breathlessly: “This can’t be me… The picture is so beautiful!…”
“I’m only a mirror!” — the painter replied with a smile. — “I only revealed your beauty of the soul to you! And now you should live without concealing it from the world!”
Another day he saw an old woman — and began to draw her portrait. And again people were wondering what he had found in this old woman.
But the painter drew every wrinkle on her hands as annals. And those annals were telling stories about a long and difficult life, about kindness and love for children, who had been brought up with her heart care, about grandchildren nourished with her deep wisdom… And rays began to shine from her eyes towards those people who were around and far away… The light of those rays was like a river that had its source in the kindness of the heart.
Through this portrait, love, wisdom, and calm were telling everyone about a kind life and about a great soul! And a lot of people stood still — in admiration — in front of this picture! And they saw the essence of a life that was not lived in vain. And the love of the great soul embraced them like a gentle evening glow…
The painter represented her life in such a way that people bowed with respect before this old woman…
Then he painted a dancer. And in the moment he depicted — the dance and the dancer were merged. The wave of hand, the music, and the dancer’s eyes — now could be seen and heard on the canvas! And everyone who looked at that picture could experience oneself as a person who is contemplating the canvas and as the one who — in dance — is singing a hymn of love for God!
The painter drew a drop of early-dew on a thin blade of grass:
It was just a drop of water shining in the sunlight. But this drop seemed to be saying: “I am a drop in the Vastness of Love! And the beauty of the sun is reflecting in me! And peace and beauty of the land are now shining in me as in a mirror of my love!”
The painter depicted with his brush one more instant of the Eternal Existence:
He drew: the sun extending its rays above the sea and reflecting in the clouds, birds flying from a faraway land towards the native one, the seashore full of golden sand!… The Creation of the Creator and the creation of a human have combined on one canvas! Eternity has revealed Itself in a single moment of the Beauty! Boundless Light of the Ocean of God has illuminated souls with the light of the rising sun! And the Invisible Traits of the Creator have manifested themselves in the greatness of this Beauty!
This painter had the miraculous sight that allowed him to see the Creator behind His Beauty!
And he was able to transmit to people the ability to see and to love!
(I have not been able to find out much, nothing really, about Yamamuto. If any can share some information, I would be grateful.)
this article originally appeared at www.DeaconLawrence.org
Pontifex University is an online university offering a Master’s Degree in Sacred Arts. For more information visit the website at www.pontifex.university
Lawrence Klimecki, MSA, is a deacon in the Diocese of Sacramento. He is a public speaker, writer, and artist, reflecting on the intersection of art and faith and the spiritual “hero’s journey” that is part of every person’s life. He maintains a blog at www.DeaconLawrence.org