Snaix, Betsy James

Both writing and art use intuition:
watching and listening for emerging worlds. But the artist who works as a professional illustrator can sometimes fall out of touch with insight. This happens to writers, too, when they try too hard to adapt to assignments or to their best guess at the market.  It’s easy to find your inner compass has been re-set to point somewhere other than North.

And we all need that inner compass.

Hence” tithing”: the portion of an artist’s work that isn’t done under the eye and expectation of an art director, a gallery, a demented market, or even an auntie who needs a birthday card. Tithing is pure play, mutual gifts between the artist and this universe of which we are a tiny, astonished part.

Tithing can be small: a doodle in a sketchbook:

Cranky! Betsy James

It can be more complex, freeing the hand to explore new territory:

Daybook sketch: Baby Doll, Betsy James

It can play with color and medium:

Hummingbird Heart, Betsy James

It can allow the rise of images
so mysterious, not even the artist knows where they came from:

Circle Bear, Betsy James

It can flow into painting series that form stories, which in turn flow into writing:

For The Morning Series, click here.

A wise artist tithes from birth until death. Even early work can begin to reveal deep images and ideas that will be explored throughout life: for Early Work, click here. Tithing is what keeps an artist or a writer honest.

Tithing brings on countless small reorientations of the heart. It helps the artist true the inner compass and, with it, to find again the River that always flows.

Snake Jazz, Betsy James


All material on this site, both text and graphics, is ©Betsy James, and may not be used commercially without her permission.

2 thoughts on “Tithing”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Betsy James on Writing, Art, and Walking in the Desert

%d bloggers like this: