Tag Archives: artist life

On being an artist

22 Sep

Today is a lovely day to be in the studio. Some days are hard- nothing is flowing, questions of color and form are asked but not answered. Self-doubt and fear are easy companions. But not today. Today is dark out, rain and damp, but bright and joyful in spirit inside. I always light candles and burn incense when I work, and Pandora (radio) today; Brunch Café. George Ezra singing ‘Budapest’.

I met with a fellow artist this past week, and we lamented the crazy, alone, truly struggling with our work days and celebrated the bright sunny everything-is-working days. Both glad that we do not get depressed easily. Nice to know we are not alone in our work or in our practice.

It is nice to know that I belong to the sacred sisterhood and brotherhood of artists, writers, poets; The Creatives- that are leaving their beds, headed to their desks and easels, facing a day of creativity. Bringing something into the world, something new, something as yet unnamed. Bringing to life this image/idea they feel, rarely seeing it fully formed. Relying on talent, perseverance, trust and plain hard work. We do this for the love and necessity of bringing forth something new. Not for a boss, or a guaranteed paycheck, or status – but simply for the need to express whatever it is as it moves within us.

Not the hard work of the corporate world, or the hard work of day laborers, but the hard work of birthing. No mastermind group, strategic planning team or other such midwives sit waiting with me in these quiet hours. It’s me and my process. It unfolds with me, and often in spite of me. Decades of just showing up, have formed themselves into a practice, a discipline of sitting and just doing the work in front of me.

Don’t misunderstand, I am certainly not alone in this birthing. Besides the much sought after and unreliable Muse, I have my Crazymakers, who attend the bringing forth of my creative child. Boredom, self-doubt, irritation, excitement, interruption, anger, financial worry, incredible joy, intense pleasure, pride – often fall over each other in the sheer hope of getting my attention. The Discipline of Showing Up has had the benefit of informing these clowns that I am the master of my attention – all these feelings still show up, but they kind of sit quietly off to the side of me as I work and discuss things amongst themselves. Their bickering and murmuring is nicely covered up by Brunch Cafe today.

I’m not whining. I wouldn’t choose any other way of life, although I denied myself the right of being an artist for many years, for many truly stupid but hard to overcome limitations. Our society doesn’t approve much of artists. We are barely tolerated when we live out of our studios or cars, venerated when we are ‘successful’ and worthy of being seen. Kids are still discouraged from being an ‘artist’. I get it. But maybe the ‘Civilians’ as one of my friends calls her non-artist friends, are the ones who don’t get it. Maybe they don’t get the inner pressure that builds, the ideas that form, the visions that just don’t go away, demanding expression. They don’t get the years spent refining this internal and external dialogue that happens between you -and whatever that ‘other’ is. They don’t understand the crack high of an idea that comes out, thru you, that you as the proud parent get to see walk out into the big wide world with a life of its own bringing joy or understanding to a hurting world.

Of course these feelings aren’t just limited to artists. Entrepreneurs feel this, as does anyone that creates first and foremost for the love of the acts of pure creation and expression.  Yes, if you’re good and persistent and ready for it, the money will come. And the fame. But these are ego territory and can quickly cause the Muse to fly and the Crazymakers to flee.

The Artist’s Dance is to keep the Muse and the humility provided by the Crazymakers alive and well. Not the loudest voices in your head certainly, but they do provide a mastermind of sorts. The Muse provides inspiration and profound guidance, while the Crazies keep me grounded and well in touch with my humanity; the suffering and the joys of others. Balance. I try my best to be the master of my mind, making decisions based on all the guidance and terror dished up by the voices. (ok, no, I do not actually hear voices, that would freak me out.)

You know what I mean. I give this feeling a chance to be expressed and instead of going crazy from the irrationality of it, I stay with it and trust that the most basic act of all humanity, creativity, will take care of itself. I just give it space and time to be. So I sit alone, and yet profoundly not alone today, connected to all artists past and present, doing what we have always done- struggling to manifest the reality we see into shape and form. A noble calling. You have to be awfully brave to be an artist in this world today. Truly being in this world but not of it. Be true to yourself today. Let something move you. You are in good company. You can’t see us when we are struggling in the studio, but we are here. We got your back.

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