I am an idolater. It’s not about worshiping false idols, it’s about creating them, creating beauty. In the natural world, everything is made by God, and beauty is entirely his domain; beauty can be found in his blessings, his works, his creations. The commandment does not prohibit worship, it prohibits making a copy of anything: stealing attention away from God as the artist. When a man creates something beautiful, something stirring, passionate, evocative, a relationship forms between the viewer, the work of art, and the artist. The feelings of awe and wonderment extend to the creator of the beautiful object, in the form of respect and humility. Beauty, which was once a sacred relationship, stirring the soul of mankind into communion with the maker of all things, becomes a limited kind of love for the master of a craft and a skilled artisan. This is why it was forbidden.
And yet: the artist himself, although weakening the appreciation for natural beauty, develops the strongest sense of observation. For in the painting of a flower, the artist must first notice, then marvel at, measure, examine, and appreciate the flower in depth and detail. It may be argued that the artist is the only observer; for no one has ever or will ever examine that flower as much or appreciate its beauty as much as did the artist, and it could also be argued that the artist saves that particular shade and style of flower, and makes it eternally accessible to others, and by the process of singling it out, makes it easier for man to see the beauty that is all around him; for some men can only see beauty in small packages when correctly presented.