The Bride of Art

May 22, 2015

God wanted to show his great love for the church and He could have described His commitment using any word, but I find it telling that He chose the word “marriage”. The church is considered the bride of Christ. When we were kids, if a kid said they loved something another kid might tease, “If you love ______ so much, why don’t you marry it?” When I met this gal named Angie a long while ago I was inspired to commit my life to her and we were married in 1990.

If you love something you lean into it. If you commit your life to it, you marry it. This is how I think of art in my life. I am married to the arts… and I don’t believe in divorce. I was a child bride, so someone must have put a red dot on my forehead, or perhaps it was an arranged marriage by my Heavenly Father, but I can’t separate myself from art.

I thought about being married to the arts when I realized I had a life long commitment, it goes far beyond today. I know I’ll be an artist on my deathbed. Even if I can’t paint I’ll be an artist. That’s how I think of my spouse, it goes beyond today and hopefully forever.

An important thing to consider about marriage is that it continues even after the feelings for the spouse leave. In our 25 years of marriage the Beloved Mrs. TenNapel and I lost feelings for each other from time to time. We still knew we loved each other, but infatuation is exhausting and isn’t generally sustained forever. So with your thing. Your thing could be art, making video games, managing people, digging ditches and just because you lose feelings for it doesn’t mean it’s time for a divorce. Maybe it’s time for a break, maybe get some counseling or go on a retreat, but your commitment level is still there.

I have had a long marriage to the arts and it’s not going anywhere. We have been in love for a long time, perhaps even before I was born. We’ve had our fights, we’ve threatened divorce, but now the arts and I are an old couple and we fit each other like a glove. If I gave up on her in my 20s when it was much more difficult, we would never have known how sweet it is to be an artist today.


16 Responses to “The Bride of Art”

  1. Ben Kreis Says:

    I appreciate the way you phrased that. In the last couple years I’ve begun to realize that it really doesn’t matter if I make money or garner a following for the stories I’m writing. I will die a storyteller, just like I’ll die a husband to Jenny. It’s a commitment that includes but is not defined by solely by emotion.

  2. tennapel Says:

    I don’t like it when the arts are frequently described merely as all passion and emotion, when for me it has always been more grounded in fact and principle. It’s something you choose to do. If you choose to do it every day, then you will get what other people keep describing as a gift. If there is a gift involved it’s that you were given a hunger for story. The rest is just working on craft and skill. You’ve got all the gift you’re going to need to do it if you work on it every day.

  3. gregnn Says:

    Reblogged this on ART 300 Elementary Drawing Assignments and commented:
    This make so much sense. Wish I would have saw this twenty years ago.

  4. Glenn Says:

    Pretty weird how you keep talking about your wife and your intermittent lack of feeling towards her.
    And I just wikid you and it says you’re a politically conservative Christian.
    I am surprised.

    • tennapel Says:

      Don’t get me wrong, I’m on fire for my wife. But I see a lot of people lose their feelings for things and think it’s reality. Lose your feelings for art, throw it out. Lose your feelings for your wife, dump her. Lose your feelings for God, it’s over. I encourage this generation to look for answers beyond their feelings and mere emotions.

  5. Glenn Says:

    When I was playing Earthworm Jim for SNES in 1994 as a kindergartener, I never thought I’d have a conversation like this with its creator 21 years later. I see what you’re saying now. You’re saying that relationships take effort and lots of work, no matter what it is that you have the relationship with?

  6. Gordon Says:

    This was VERY inspiring to read, thank you so much for the post, Mr. TenNapel! I never thought to liken my love of art to Christ’s love of the Church. Though it really makes sense – while also bringing to light how those of us who were made to create art need to show more than just love, but also commitment.

    This especially speaks to me, being married to an artist myself. We share our passion for drawing and storytelling through comics, though it does cause the odd disagreement. Like faith and marriage, art requires plenty of effort and understanding.

    Keep up the good work, and God bless!

  7. Samuel SG Says:

    Muchas gracias por esto Señor Doug, me ha inspirado en sobre manera, me ha ayudado mucho siento de nuevo el fuego dentro de mi, siento que mientras escribía usted, en todo esto había un propósito mayor que solo Dios sabe, inspirar a otros y acercarlos mas al amor de Dios y eso a echo con migo, un gran abrazo y que Dios le sorprenda!

  8. Sam Says:

    Heya Doug, just wanted to thank you for the wise words. I’m literally a random person off the internet who was reading about comics, then read about you and got linked to the various stuff people said from years ago about your views, and then read about Armikrog and boycotts, and other things.

    I’ve very rarely seen people honestly and openly apologize on the internet when they get stuff wrong, or try and respect other people who have different beliefs even if they disagree with them. I’m not getting this across well, but I respect your sticking up for your views while trying to engage with people who disagree, and trying to do so in respectful ways. Often, the people who respond on the internet are the ones who are the angriest, so I thought I’d throw in my hat and say I think you’re a cool guy. I don’t agree with everything you’ve ever said but yeah.

    You’re a cool guy, Doug TenNapel.

    Hope Armikrog does well!

  9. Andrea Says:

    I don’t know what this blog is about but i hope i won’t be criticized too much if it’s the wrong place, even because i didn’t find any other place to write to TenNapel. I want to express qa critic to Armikrog…how can some people say Armikrog is the spiritual successor of The Neverhood is a mistery to me. I would have bought armikrog 100 times if only it was as good as neverhood was. It took me just 1 hour to finish the game, the klayanimation was really minimal (compared to neverhood), the storyline was ridiculous (i mean, are you going to produce some dlc (that would be even worse) because the story was…incosistent,. A mysterious child produce energy, tommynaut casually find him, the bad guy, with no story or anything, randomly wants him to gain power, good guy win and “ehy go save the one who’s sending the s.o.s” but not in this game because the game is over), no environment (you see the planets only few times thorough a window and you just visit empty rooms), always the same riddles and if they were differents they were really, really, really easy. You can’t compare this game with the neverhood, or any other of your games. I can’t really understand how you can be happy with this game, i expected so much from it, i was really excited because i’m a great fan of your works, but this is the worst of your games. I don’t know maybe i want to much, i am too focused on neverhood but i can’t say (and like me many people from steam) that armikrog is a good game and i’m really sad about that :(


  10. Rob Says:

    I remember playing Earthworm Jim Sega Genesis and watching the show on tv when I was 11. It’s funny how kids nowadays don’t know who you are or who your character is because you’ve practically gone into oblivion but I downloaded Earthworm Jim recently on Xbox 360 along with DuckTales to show my son what Earthworm Jim was all about and he liked it. I respect you as an artist and I respect your opinions but you “being a christian” and using Christianity as a basis for hatred is wrong. Is that what Jesus would do? Where in the bible does it say Gay Marriage is forbidden and being gay is wrong? Jesus was surrounded by murderers, prostitutes, and sinners and he didn’t look down upon them, he walked with them. I just think it’s funny that you, along with so many other “Christians”, feel it’s your spiritual duty to discriminate gays when it was written “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.” ..John 8:7

    • tennapel Says:

      I don’t hate anybody, so it’s wrong to impugn my motive for all you know I’m well-intentioned but merely wrong. It’s callous to assume that someone is hateful merely because you don’t know or understand their motives. You never asked me my motives and there is an assumption that I have a choice to disregard the Bible in this matter. I don’t. Regarding John 8:7 I think it’s an important reminder to not be quick to judge the sinful among us. I am a sinner, no more of a sinner than any other. But if I lie, it is reasonable for a fellow sinner to correct me. It’s actually a benefit to me that someone judge my lying if that’s what happened because it may be the only way I learn of my lies. It is in this spirit, no doubt, that you also judge me for not endorsing gay marriage. Are you discriminating against me in a spirit of hatred? I don’t see how you or I earn that statement.

  11. Rob Says:

    What gives you the right to judge how other people live their life?

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