Living the Artful Life - Pt. 1 - Becoming an Artist
I recently asked my students what they most want to read about in my blog, and many wanted to know about how I became an artist. But first I want to say this:
The popular idea that “everyone is an artist” is (in my humble opinion) hogwash. I would say that everyone has the potential to be an artist. But what separates the wheat from the chaff (the artist from the hobbyist) is the grinding of the mill. In this metaphor, I am calling out those who DO and those who DON’T. It is not glamorous or elite. It is a practice, full stop.
Simply said, you become an artist by Doing. It is labor. 95% perspiration, 5% inspiration.
The artist Chuck Close famously said, “Inspiration is for wimps. The rest of us get to work.” This isn’t about being part of some special club - it’s a commitment to a regular disciplined practice. Not allowing excuses (not enough Time and Space anyone?) to stop you from starting. It doesn’t mean you don’t have resistance. In fact, that’s a certainty. It doesn’t mean you won’t have doubts and think you suck at it - you will, again and again (I still do). It’s soldiering on despite all of that, having the courage to reach deep into your authentic depths (the BOG) and showing up on a regular basis. Especially when you have no idea what you are doing.
But the key element is this - you have to really want to do it. Like you can’t go on without doing it. So many things will get in the way, that you have to really mean it. Something is burning so deep that it finally can not be denied. It’s the first stage of the Hero’s Journey - the Call. It might be a small murmuring, barely perceptible. It could be a big bad wake up call - illness, accident, divorce. But you just know something’s got to give, it’s time.
So, how did I overcome my own resistance/excuses/not knowing and become an artist?
Yup, you guessed it, by painting through countless messes so bad that I wanted to throw up. Then glimpsing the beauty in the bad. Even getting curious about the bad. Seeing how far I could go in giving up control of the process. Looking at a LOT of art, at every opportunity, in all media. Finding teachers that aligned with my need to access my personal interior, allowing me to make a mess, and trusting trusting the subtle beckoning of one impulse stroke following another.
Some of the details that led to this point of my life and career are revealed on this site, and I’ll continue to share in forthcoming posts when relevant, but becoming an artist is a simple formula - learning the skills, doing the work and being your truth.
If not that, what else are you going to do with this one wild and precious life?!