I am an Artist.
By ‘Artist’, I don’t mean that I paint or draw well enough to win a fancy ribbon (although I have) or earn a buck or two (although I've done that, too).
I don’t mean that I am a master craftsman or even a participant in any of the other creative arts, like writing or dance or music or film (because I’m not).
I don’t mean that I have a degree in any sort of artsy field, or a long and respected list of gallery showings, high profile reviews, high dollar sales (because I don’t)
I also don’t mean that I have high-falutin’, fancy-pants pretensions about the worth of my art compared to the worth other people’s art … although sometimes I do sniff down my nose a bit disdainfully. ( Hey, I’m workin’ on it. Meanwhile, blame the sniffling on my allergies.)
Then there is the ever-so-useful definition proposed by Princeton.edu:
“a creative person, someone whose creative work shows sensitivity and imagination“
That definition? It applies to almost everyone who has ever commented on any of my blogs, or shown an interest in my work, or even just stopped and pondered the shapes in the clouds. You all rock.
But that’s not what I mean by “I am an Artist”, either – at least not today. On any given other day, in any given other conversation, I may use the word “artist” to describe all or any of the things above, but today?.
Today, I’m claiming the word in a different sense.
In a previous post elsewhere, I said this:
“… I mean writing (words) so they have the desired impact & effect, drawing the reader into my mind where they can experience what I want them to experience, then spitting the reader back out into their own world, changed by the experience, where they can digest and make the ideas their own. Or not.
That is what I mean by “I am an Artist”. Sure, the paragraph above is sloppy-meta-writing-about-writing, but the point is:
Art is about crafting an experience through expression.
It’s about reaching out and grabbing someone by the back of the head, directing their gaze, causing them to react, to feel something-anything that peels away the me-you-them-rat-race-to-do-list-too-bored-to-notice-anything-and-that’s-nothing-new obliviousness of day-to-day life.
Art strips away the filters, and re-exposes reality.
That’s what the Masters did, and it’s what they still do,
even from their graves.
Ever seen one of Leonardo’s, Monet’s, or Van Gogh’s works in person? It has to be in person. In photos and prints, they’re pretty pictures, but seen as they were created to be seen? There is magic in the marks of charcoal and swishes of paint. The lines and colors dance, glow, and reveal. Stand in front of the works of Masters of the Arts, soak in them, and you will see reality differently.
The same is true of great art in music, film, dance, sculpture. It’s true of street performance and graffiti artists and photographers. It’s true of great literature, essayists, poets – writers of all sorts.
Art is not about the picture. It’s not about the box office haul or the platinum record or the author’s advance or the tip jar or being avant-garde or weirder-and-more-pretentious-than-thou. Art is about reaching out and touching someone else’s soul and changing it.
Art changes things.
Art can change things even when the artist has been dead for centuries.
I want to be that - the experience, the catalyst. I want to not just produce, but be an expression that resonates with and within others, vibrating their perceptions so that the world comes alive in a new and different way, with newborn vision.
Defined this way, Art is my raison d'etre (see, there’s one of those high-falutin’ words I warned you about). But I forget about it, because, well, honestly? It makes life hard.
It’s why I struggle with production issues and ship-dates and deadlines. It’s why it can take me a year to get a website launched. It’s why I may struggle with the exact, pin-point placement of an image in a blog post, and yet ignore ten typo’s – because I sense that the image placement will change the experience, while the typo? Not so much. (I’m probably wrong about that, but it’s my vision, so hush with your criticisms!)
In my best moments, of which there are too few, everything I do, down to the way I breathe, is carefully crafted for effect. In my best paintings, every drip, smear, and mistake combines to create an experience for the viewer. In my best writing (typo’s aside) every word and punctuation mark and line break is carefully chosen for its impact.
From where I sit today, this all sounds horribly pretentious.
And it probably is pretentious, especially since I haven’t spent much time living or creating this way for a very long time. In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever quite had the courage to do it as fully as I feel drawn towards, but I want to try.
I’m going to try.I may fail.In fact, I will almost certainly fail...
But I will fail as an Artist.
And that, in part, is my personal goal with this new website; I intend to approach it as an artist, with a goal of creating an experience that changes things both internally and externally.
Note: This post was previously published on Circus Serene. The text has been slightly edited for context and the chance to introduce additional typos.