Canon is a term that we often associate with religious scripture. The same process can be used to help us develop as artists and in other areas of study. It can support aspirational growth in any creative field.
Canonization is the process by which the books of the Bible were discovered as authoritative. According to widely accepted beliefs within the church, Men did not canonize Scripture; men simply recognized the authority of the books that God truly inspired.
In other words the process of canonization is a way of curating the content that is focused upon by followers. This is an intentional process meant to help followers worship more effectively by distilling the truth of God so as to ensure followers with limited time, resources and energy can do their best work as religious people.
The channeling of focus that comes with canonization helps those struggling with complex issues of faith and other matters by submerging in great works of others who have been down the same path.
In a sense by concentrating on a limited set of great works for periods of time we can rapidly "broaden our practice of awareness" by tapping into the knowledge and experience of others and their stories.
The journey as a developing artist is no different. It has taken some time but I have found my own artistic canon. Here are the books that I'd include in that select group at this time:
Since there is an infinite amount of data available to us, in this increasingly noisy world, and we all have limited bandwidth, it is helpful to carefully curate the quality we let into our lives.
The curation process is a huge process of sorting and filtering so we have to experiment and explore. This process of exploration will help us find additional pieces that may fit into our personal canon.
Along the way we will be surprised by the little threads of gold that appear. Learning opportunities abound. In art that may mean reading books, reviewing great artworks from the past and observing other artists on the same journey.
Painters and others who practice any sort of performance art can venture into the exploration of experiential curation by studying through the process of creation.
Painters may take on a master copy, dancers may copy a choreography developed by a famous dancer, athletes may emulate the unique approach to a movement or element of their sport in the spirit of a great athlete -- past or present..
Why not leverage the experience that came through struggle from amongst others that came before us. Virtual mentors can offer much.
Rick Rubin said it well when he explained "the objective is not to learn to mimic greatness, but to calibrate our internal meter for greatness. So we can better make thousands of choices that might ultimately lead to our own great work."
Maybe put down the phone, turn off the news, tune out the noise and intentionally find something great that resonates with you and who you wish to become.
Thanks for hearing me out!
BTW- there's a whole bunch of great supporting cast members - resources that work in support of the "Canon" and I provide a comprehensive summary of those resources here.