Michelangelo was a sculptor. Although he was apprenticed in Ghirlandhaio’s studio where they focused on painting and fresco, sculpture was the first love of Michelangelo from the time he was a small boy. After having completed his first Pieta and the fame that resulted, he quickly became the artist of choice for Pope Julius II.
The Pope decided that he wanted the ceiling of the chapel painted “with Saints and various decorations” and he was adamant that Michelangelo would paint it. You didn’t say no to the Pope, let alone Pope Julius II who was as hot tempered as Michelangelo. Finally Michelangelo took the commission and began the work. After having done a couple of the saints, he realized he hated it… it was awful. He went to the Pope and told him so… and showed him HIS vision of what the ceiling should be. The Pope was perplexed as what he was proposing would double his time on the commission. “Actually, it will probably quadruple it,” the artist said. Michelangelo felt that if he were going to create something it wouldn’t be average. If he had to spend the time doing this he was going to do it right and make it great. The Sistine Chapel is one of the great achievements in the history of western man.
I think about this a lot. My gift is artistic talent. I’m not rich or a doctor, so I like to think that my ability to create beauty is what I give to the world. I am blessed to be able to use my gift on a daily basis and often it is for things that not only are not that attractive, but that I may not be excited to work on… I never go half way. Even if I think what the client wants is ugly and/or isn’t visually working I make sure that it’s as beautiful as I can make it. I want to be proud of whatever I do, even if it’s something that no one will know that I did. I can relate to Michelangelo redesigning the ceiling so that he would be proud of it.