MY WEEKLY BLOG
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE AN ARTIST?
Art is not about competition. It’s about revelation. Revealing who you are and how you feel from the inside out. Art is not about winning or succeeding. It’s about finding what is hidden and exposing it in its most raw form. In the words of acclaimed
artist, Georgia O’ Keefe, “Whether you succeed or not is irrelevant, there is no such thing. Making your unknown known is the important thing.”
I felt blocked for the last few days when I sat down to write. That’s unusual for me. I have some pretty effective ways of getting around writer’s block but this time, nothing seemed to work. I paced around for a while, I got in my car and did some errands and when I got back home, I knew what my problem was. I like to be an inspiration
to my students and friends. I like to offer hope, support and encouragement when I write my prompts and my blogs. But I didn’t feel hopeful or supportive right then. I didn’t feel inspired and I didn’t want to pretend. I didn’t like admitting it but I felt disappointed and stuck and when I sat down at my computer, I knew that was where I needed to begin. “Start Where You Are,” I reminded myself. “Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.” This blog is the
fruit of that commitment.
When you create anything from scratch, comparing yourself to another artist is not only a waste of time. It’s also deadly since it kills off inspiration. It invalidates your unique vision of the world. You may think you just don’t measure up so why bother writing or painting or dancing or composing? But if you block your unique expression, it will be lost for all time. You don’t have to believe in yourself
or your work. You just have to keep it yours, clearly and directly. You need to keep the channel open. That is what it means to be an artist.
There are times when I expose my difficult feelings about something in my writing and someone rushes in to try and fix it. If I admit to feeling depressed, one of my readers says, “Try doing this.” When I admit to feeling lonely, someone else says, “Remember to be grateful.” I understand the sentiment, it’s all coming from a loving
place, but trying to fix someone else doesn’t accomplish anything. That isn’t what artists are looking for. Whether we create from an open heart or a broken heart, when we allow our truth to bleed out onto a page, a canvas, a stage or a screen, we simply want to be witnessed, exactly as we are. We’re not trying to make lemonade from lemons. We want to be heard and understood, exactly as we
are. We’re not trying to change our mood. We’re trying to express it honestly. We want to know that someone else feels like we do so we can make a connection and feel human, especially when we’re in our darkest places.
We all do our best to construct a world around us that feels comfortable. But feelings come and go. The good ones and the tough ones. We don’t know how long they’ll stick around before they morph into something else because life is dynamic, not stagnant and
everything changes with no assistance from us. Since we don’t know what’s coming next, the best thing we can do is be authentic in the moment. We can tell the truth without judging or projecting. We can expose our true nature and invite everyone else to do the same.
That is what it means to be an artist.