The end of the week, ready for a new one to begin. Have I put the last one away though? Have I moved on? Or am I just stuck here and now.
I keep thinking about the realities of being an artist in any form and what that requires emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually. It’s not a job like any other on earth. It’s not like being an accountant or a waitress. It’s not something we do from 8 to 5 and then go home and forget about it.
Being an artist is consuming. Every aspect of life is consumed by a vision of the world that leaves nothing to chance. A painter sees color, form, shape everywhere they look. The architect feels space, every space that they ever walk through or imagine. The writer hides in the corner and watches how people interact, how a woman takes a glass of wine from her husband or lover or the maid, what shape the rain takes as it splashes on the ground.
And then each in turn allows pieces and parts of what they’ve absorbed to leech out onto a canvas, creating … art.
It is an amazing world to live in. To see so deeply, to feel so intimately, and then express those things for others to see grips the soul of everyone who’s ever cried at a movie, cheered on a character in a book, or returned repeatedly to an art gallery just to see that one painting and hear what it had to say.
But it is also a lonely world to live in. Being an artist is not a communal activity. Sure we like to talk about things with one another. We gather at conventions to discuss our crafts, we award one another, we offer support. But in the end it comes down to being alone, creating in a world of our own making, having the guts to pour out what we feel and believe and want, daring others to look and participate in a new definition of reality.
It comes down to the artist and their canvas.
No canvas starts out formed and complete or even sketched out roughly. They are all blank. And that blankness beckons to our complicated manipulations of the world, asking us to pick neither this nor that but instead both that and this together. It isn’t a monster but there are times when running from it seems the only way to stay sane.
And once we have poured out our souls and presented ourselves to the world, we wait … for a reaction, a response, something to indicate that we have connected with another human being and communicated all those bits and pieces in a new way.
We hope for a reaction or a response or even a reply … but more often than not we find rejection. Because being an artist is all about rejection. Why do artists all appear crazy at times? Because we live our lives requesting that others reject us on a daily basis.
It’s a crazy thought, but that’s what we do. It’s taking our hearts, our minds, our very souls, ripping them from our bodies and tacking them up on the wall for others to throw rocks at or talk about or ignore or cry over.
Everything we create we create alone and yet it isn’t for us because no work of art sits in a closet and tells it’s story. It is created for an audience, to be put on display. It is created to interact, to make people participate in it in some way. Out of solitude comes something tangible for the world to embrace.