Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Make Art, Be Happy

"I've been absolutely terrified every moment of my life, and I've never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do."
Georgia O'Keeffe

Wouldn't it be nice if being a free spirit didn't mean you were a flake, the same way that it would be nice if having a mind of your own was considered a good thing.

It is not worth dwelling on why being a free spirit in this world is a freakish thing, or why someone would complain that a child has a mind of their own like it is a bad thing. Still, why would anyone possibly deny a free spirit or mind of one's own to anyone?

But it's true. Furthermore, a free spirit, and this is really sad, is something we generally apply to a woman. "She was such a free spirit!" Read "flake!" Someone who hears voices or dances in the wind. But what you've really got is free and spirit connected, and what could be better than that? It sounds almost redundant. So what about men?

I fully understand that if you haven't got everyone on board, the pyramids don't get built. Maybe free spirits represent the decline of Western Civilization. Maybe more than maybe. Maybe it is like that state of mankind in that distant future in The Time Machine: people who don't care enough so save their own lives. But I don't think so. I think free spirits just might care more.

It would seem that the term artist is synonymous with free spirit. That this accounts for the freak factor where artists are concerned. But consider this: most artists learn how to invest in themselves, most artists pay for the privilege of being an artist: they rent studio space, they pay for expensive materials, they carve out time; and that should tell you something.

In a world where everyone else wants to spend other people's money, artists spend their own time and money doing something they believe in that makes life worth believing in. So for all those who think that artists are some kind of degenerate, free loading freaks, think again.

The sad fact is that the guilt and shame for doing something gratifying and worthwhile like making art, while others are filling a slot, undermines the creative commitment. Guilt and shame make us second guess ourselves; why should we be allowed to be free in a world that enslaves everyone?

Furthermore what follows in guilt and shame's wake is the pressure to succeed with either fame or fortune or both, to legitimize doing something so impractical and non-essential like making art, as if fame and fortune had anything to do with making art, and were a measure of anything but themselves.

Not unlike in A Beautiful Mind, if artists could leave fame and fortune sitting alone at the bar, and just be happy with making art, then they would preserve both their freedom and their spirit, and be truly happy!

As Kipling would suggest, treat those two imposters, success and failure, the same. Just make art and be happy!

Addison Parks

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

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