So why do I do what I do? It’s complicated. Sometimes I’m not even sure. Ah, Inspiration.
Growing up, I always thought that an artist was controlled by the art, that the Muse (or whatever) just took over and the artist was simply the vessel of this brilliance. It sounds awesome and exciting and majestic, the idea of being possessed by a dazzling purpose, unable to resist it, and as a result, producing this massive, impressive body of artwork.
It turns out that’s absolute rubbish. The personification of creativity is very romantic, but it’s not very sustainable, especially when being a starving artist actually means that you starve to death.
It implies that I have absolutely no control (and therefore no responsibility) for what I produce or the manner in which I produce it. That I am at the whim of some undefinable entity with no sense of free will or self. I don’t believe that. I am ultimately responsible for my work and its production, whether it’s genius or lame. Otherwise, I am only a mindless artist and not a whole person.
I’m not going to lie. There are definitely times when I wish I could blame my art on the Muse or anyone/anything else, really. Especially when what I produce leans a lot closer to Lame than Genuis. Alas, it’s still just me. I am responsible for what I create.
Does the Muse (or whatever) exist? Totally. As an actual part of me. It’s a team effort between me and said indescribable inspiration. This allows me to function in reality (ish), pay the bills, go food shopping, do the dishes. But it also allows me to occasionally slide into that alternate reality that is the center of my art, timelessly suspended in the sublime.
Sometimes, the merging of those forces is effortless. The materials simply become extensions of my hands, which in turn, are extensions of my heart. Immaculate pieces seem to come together so easily and pure bliss is the direct result.
Other times, not so much. Ever seen A Christmas Story? Where the dad is working on the furnace in the basement and Adult Ralphie describes him as weaving “a tapestry of obscenity that, as far as we know, is still hanging in space over Lake Michigan”? Well, sometimes it’s like that. And then I have to hide whatever I’m working on under a towel because I can’t even look at it right now.
Let it suffice to say that I am artistic and pragmatic, creative and realistic, spiritual and grounded. I find nothing incompatible between any of these things. And I feel most connected to my humanity when I am a walking dichotomy.