Water Cooler Wednesday-The Artistic Temperament


It's Water Cooler Wednesday--time for the creatives to gather around the drinking hole over at Randy Elrod's blog and share something interesting.

I had to really think about this post this week, and given the time that I have to write it, it may not be deep enough for the subject, but I'm hoping that others will jump in with their comments and help expand this subject.

In one of my first churches, we were given personality tests (not to see if we had one--but which one we were). I had never done this before. To my shock (really?) my temperament came out MELANCHOLY! (thank goodness I wasn't choleric--or they would have to give me something to calm down my fits). So, I accepted that...Melancholy I was. But somehow it sounded so sad and depressing (duh!) and in a way pitiful.

I haven't thought much about it until recently when I came across some quotes from Spurgeon about ministry and it's highs and lows. He flat out calls it depression in ministry. That was a long time ago for someone to call that out and say what it was. He aptly called the times of great highs and lows in ministry

"Before any great achievement,some measure of depression is very usual....this depression comes over me whenever the Lord is preparing a larger blessing for my ministry." Spurgeon The Minister's Fainting Fits

The artistic temperament, as Melancholy has been called, has been exhibited by some biblical examples. Moses, David, Jeremiah (some references to chapter 29, one of the most quoted bibilical scriptures, say that this is MELANCHOLY at its best-depressed but deep) and more.

Artistically Michaelangelo was the epitome' of MELANCHOLY with his vast array of portraits and paintings, but also his stories of fits and tempers while completing these masterpieces. The portrait here is of the prophet Jeremiah that is found on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican. I got to see this in 2006 and purchased a mural of the ceiling to study the art more closely later. These are amazing!


Contemporary Christian Artist Rich Mullins has been called the Melancholy Musical Genius
and as was said of him

Always questioning.
Always learning.
Often philosophizing.
... and usually barefoot.



So, I took another personality test last night just to check and see if I was still...MELANCHOLY. Here are my results.

Personality: Melancholy Sanguine

Melancholy Strength:7 Weakness:11 45%

Yep-still there, with all my strengths and weaknesses. But as I read these, I'm some of them and yet I am none of them. So, general personality tests can't truly describe or determine who you are.

I guess the reason that the Artistic temperament resides in us is so that we can paint the brightest sunsets, describe the largest storm, write about the struggles and sing about the joys. I just have to trust the one who made me (Jer.29:11) that he knew what he was doing when me made me and gave me this artistic heart.

What do you think? Does every artist have to be Melancholy? Are there examples of other personality types that flourish in the artistic community. Let's begin the discussion.

5 comments:

a kelly said...

I have wondered about this before...in my experience it has been true. There is a depth of feeling that seems to come with the artistic temperament. I read the blogs of a few artists and there is always a post of melancholy. Is it the same sensitivity to sorrow that creates beauty??
I am naturally optimistic even in the darkest of situations. No great art here.

kimbontrager said...

Good question. It does seem that many of the most brilliant & creative people I've either known or read about have had a 'dark side'... a very real awareness of how close they are to insanity... destruction... implosion (which is a much darker description of your question). Maybe it is as you say: in order to paint a great picture, there has to be shadow somewhere.


btw, thanks for the comment today!

Audra Krell said...

Hey! Your blog is really well done. Very thought provoking.

Scott said...

Great post Jim. I seem to stuggle with what I am. Sometimes I wish that I were more "artistic" to be more creative, then I work with someone that is all of that and can't do anything else and I realize how much that temperament can drive my Type A personality nuts. I guess I just need a switch to turn it on and off.

simple christfollower said...

I have an uneven temperament. I can be easily drawn into the blues and self pity, but most times I'm very optomisitc. Go figure?
I may have to explore this further!