The Generous Artist

Red poppyHas anyone ever accused you of or should I say ‘complemented you’ for being a generous artist? A generous person? I certainly hope so because generosity is one of the most rarely cultivated qualities I can think of. If you want to cultivate a beautiful life, nurturing generosity in your heart, mind and life is an absolutely essential practice. Generosity is the rare wild flower that blooms after all the spring grasses of good intentions have wilted under the summer heat of our selfish preoccupations.

You and I all know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of another’s generosity. Oh how good it feels to be noticed, appreciated, and gifted by a generous soul. Today, I want to encourage you to be a generous artist. If you’re not an artist, you can certainly practice the art of generosity. I also want to be generous with you.  I have a free gift, a beautiful book meant to be shared with others…

Generosity begins with an abundance mindset that says, “Hey, there’s enough here at the table for everyone, so I’m not afraid to share.” And if there’s not enough at the table, a generous person trusts that God will provide what’s lacking. Allow me to digress: I grew up in an Irish-Catholic family of seven kids. On Friday evenings at the dinner table during Lent, it was a nasty cat fight scrambling to grab that last fish-stick in the pan! I can’t remember giving up selfishness for Lent??

What makes generosity a difficult quality to practice is that generosity requires risk and humility. Generosity risks giving away time, expertise, money, encouragement, and help when it’s human nature to be selfish and to look out for me-me-me first. So, the person who is generous is a risk-taker who believes that more fruit will grow through the scattered seeds of generosity.

And let me tell you, farming is oh-so uncertain. Scattering seeds of generosity requires so much faith, trust and hope into things unseen.

Generosity also requires humility because its very nature does not seek attention or praise for the act of giving. It’s risky to give when others may challenge our motive for giving. Generosity also requires a humble boldness that will give in spite of what others may think of our giving. The spotlight is often shined on the generous giver, which often makes giving an awkward endeavor.

How we give also says a lot about the condition of our heart. If you and I expect a ‘thank you’ every time we are generous or we are rudely offended by someone’s ungratefulness, we have to ask ourselves, “Am I really generous? Did I really give expecting nothing in return? Was ‘giving’ a gift enough or was I expecting something more? Am I acting entitled or truly humble?”

So how are you at cultivating the rare practice of generosity?

Are you generous with praise and encouragement? Are you generous with your time? Are you generous when you’re inconvenienced? Are you generous with your art, skill and craft? Are you generous with your money? Are you a generous artist?

I have a very wealthy friend who’s not an artist, but he’s one of the most generous people I know. He is always asking how he can give more because he knows he can never out-give God. I also know other people who aren’t wealthy in financial terms, but are extremely generous with their time, their art, hospitality, counsel and prayers for others. There’s lots of way to cultivate and practice generosity. Some creativity required.

At The Grove Center for the Arts & Media, generosity is one of our three ‘G’s’. (Grove Gatherings, Getaways, & Generosity). We practice generosity with artists because God has been generous with us. We have a twelve acre organic lemon and avocado grove because someone was generous with us. You can read the Grove Story here. In all of this, our goal is to encourage artists to be generous artists. What would our lives look like if we viewed every day as a gift from God and each moment, a chance to be generous as He is generous?

Since we value generosity, after some thought and prayer, we’ve decided to give away Create: Transforming Stories of Art, Life & Faith for free. It’s not that we have a bunch of money…we don’t. Nor do we believe that you should never get paid for your art or that you need to give everything away for free. We just know this is a very good and very cool book created by artists we respect…we just have to share it!

We also know God is generous. Since we’re made in His image, generosity is simply practicing who He is. In agricultural terms, it’s called sowing and reaping.

Generosity works.

And sow, we’re offer you this beautiful, award-winning ebook. It’s yours for free. Create is filled with wonderful essays, beautiful digital artwork, and compelling videos.

When you get your free copy, all we’re asking is that you be… generous. Share it with your friends. Write a review on Amazon, iTunes, or Barnes & Noble. Share it on your blog or website. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Linkedin. Forward this email to a friend. Scatter some seed. In other words, be generous. Together, we can create a grove of generosity.

Let’s see what happens! (We do love an adventure…)

And if you enjoy Create, we’d like to ask you to consider making a donation to The Grove Center for the Arts & Media. 100% of your tax-deductible donation will go towards our Artist Grant & Scholarship Fund. (Click here to donate via Paypal). Any gift, small or large, is greatly appreciated.

Your generosity will help us be generous with artists! It will scatter some good seed into their lives and help us keep doing what we’re called to do: Cultivating the spiritual growth and creative work of artists.

And cultivating generosity is something we’re always going to keep practicing.

Click here to get your free copy of Create: Transforming Stories of Art, Life & Faith right now.

Questions: Tell me a story when someone was generous with you? As an artist, how can you create a better world by practicing generosity?

You’ve just read The Generous Artist. (Click here to comment on Art, Life & Faith now.)

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive, snarky or off-topic.

  • techne

    unfortunately, I didn’t see this until after the date…will you offer it again?

    • techne

      I also posted this in the wrong thread…

    • Joey O’Connor

      We now have two Grove Classes posted on The Grove website: Discovering Your Artistic Destiny and Writing Your First Book.

  • techne

    there was also an additional post that I left here that seems to have disappeared…

    have you read lewis hyde’s ‘the gift’ ( it is deeply instructive about the role of art as cultural production and the tension of its function as either gift or commodity (some further ideas here: it’s one of the books I often recommend to any aspiring creative as it engages with the calling of the artist from a serving perspective (or at least the artist’s role within larger society/culture) as opposed to a focus that often tantamount to navel-gazing (i.e. “it’s all about me!”). well worth the read.

    if you don’t believe me, makoto fujimura agrees with me:

    • Joey O’Connor


    • Joey O’Connor

      I’ve been having problems with the WP blog app. I had responded to your comments, but somehow they didn’t post and it looks like you lost your post too…sorry for the hassle. I am really enjoying ‘The Gift’. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard about it or that someone hadn’t recommended it to me over the years. It is really speaking into the values and work of what we’re developing with The Grove community of artists. Thank you for the recommendation!

      • techne

        (still waiting on a post about ‘the gift’)

  • Joey O’Connor


  • Joey O’Connor

    Great! Thanks for the link…I’ll check it out.

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