There is an Essence to Art
When someone picks up a brush or a chisel and sets to work, something happens. It isn't storytelling, though art often tells stories. It isn't depiction or representation, though art often depicts. It isn't about beauty, for while art is often beautiful, it has always, often been ugly, or frightening. It isn't about skill or craft, though skill and craft are usually essential for the creation of art.
While that something involves expression, there is more to it. It is also impression. And there, I think is the essence. The artist is the translator, capable first of receiving, then of transmitting great expression. The eye, ear, mind, spirit, and heart of the artist are receivers, tuned to the frequencies of knowing and understanding. The hand and voice-and again the mind, spirit and heart are transmitters, broadcasting via the wavelengths of wisdom and enlightenment.
That's why the magic happens, not when the art is created, but when it is seen, or heard, or read. The viewer of a great portrait painting, for example, may leave with the distinct impression of having met the subject—but will often feel that she knows something of the painter as well. The artist has been an essential conduit between the universe and the patron.