“A woman’s face with nature’s own hand painted,
Hast thou, the master mistress of my passion;
A woman’s gentle heart, but not acquainted
With shifting change, as is false women’s fashion:
An eye more bright than theirs, less false in rolling,
Gilding the object whereupon it gazeth;
A man in hue all hues in his controlling,
Which steals men’s eyes and women’s souls amazeth.
And for a woman wert thou first created;
Till Nature, as she wrought thee, fell a-doting,
And by addition me of thee defeated,
By adding one thing to my purpose nothing.
But since she prick’d thee out for women’s pleasure,
Mine be thy love and thy love’s use their treasure.”
In Greek mythology, an artist’s muse is considered to be a goddess whose influence on their person or persons – painters, musicians and poets – were often seen as inspiration or even divine influence. Their influence was so immense that their actions towards a person who was believed to be qualified to receive a sacred revelation from them, was viewed as the main source of the “the artistic purpose.”
Conversely, it was believed that the muse was never the creator of the vision; she was only the one whom the artists wanted to please and impress with it. Throughout history we have seen women be the source of such motivation – Shakespeare and his sonnets, Dante’s Beatrice, Frederick Chopin and George Sand, Dali and Gala, plus other world-renowned artists such as Gary Benfield and Tomasz Rut.
The love stories usually associated with these artists are ones full of lust, longing, pain and suffering. The plots are filled with an incredible love that overcomes obstacles; the kind of love that leaves you restless and dizzy with emotional turmoil as well as a feeling that feels like you’re flying and falling at the same time.
It’s the stuff dreams are made of – love that feels like a complex emotion which is hard to define yet easy to feel.
Historically, though art has been produced from this kind of love, man has been at love’s disposal since the beginning of time. Nonetheless, there are some people who possess the ability to showcase all of love’s ups and downs through their talents. For instance, musicians show love in the climax and dénouement of a symphony. Some express love’s commotion through a poem or sonnet and others communicate their love through the strokes of their brush against a blank canvas.
The paintings of Gary Benfield, for example, epitomize these emotions in the most moving way. His wife is his muse, his inspiration, and often the focal point of his paintings. Even though she is a dancer, which is completely understood once you see his paintings, as an observer you can completely see his feelings towards her and how she makes his heart race with love through each and every painting. The complexities of color, the swirls and twists, brings out the movement of the piece as well as the free flowing feeling of love itself. The colors he chooses – the deep reds, blues, and gold – also create that enhanced and overwhelming expression of his heart’s desire.
A perfect example of love and passion is expressed though his paintings is titled Graceful . As Mr. Benfield once said “We fall in love, have children, and experience a whole gamut of emotions as people always have. And we have always sought to express these fundamental experiences in an aesthetic manner, through painting and poetry. As an artist it is this imaginative role in transforming materials- paint, graphite, charcoal – to create this aesthetic dimension that I love.”
Indeed, as proven by Mr. Benfield, behind every great man, there is a great woman…a muse if you will.