A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 285: It is Life

who we are and what we do is life

For my fourth Creative Spirit, an artwork combining an abstract background with a simple, disproportionate figured overlaid, I chose just a snippet of a wonderful quote by American poet Nayyirah Waheed. My intent was to paint a background that hinted at growth and life, with a figure in motion, maybe dancing, imitating some of lines of color.

Recently, an artist friend of mine posted this question on Facebook: “Remind me again, what’s the point of being an artist and making art?”  Frankly, any answer I could give about this could never be as good as the full quote from Waheed. So here it is in its entirety:

“creativity keeps the world alive, yet, everyday we are asked to be ashamed of honoring it, wanting to live our lives as artists. i’ve carried the shame of being a ‘creative’ since i came to the planet; have been asked to be something different, more, less my whole life. thank spirit, my wisdom is deeper than my shame, and i listened to who i was. i want to say to all the creatives who have been taught to believe who you are is not enough for this world, taught that a life of art will amount to nothing, know that who we are, and what we do is life. when we create, we are creating the world. remember this, and commit.”

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 284: Between Introversion and Exhibitionism

between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide

One of the greatest conundrums of being an artist is… Sorry, I just wrote the word “conundrum” and got lost in how cool that sounds to say out loud, it’s so musical! Try it a sec…

Okay, where was I? Oh, yeah…

One of the greatest conundrums of being an artist is the bizarre combination of intense introversion and shameless exhibitionism. That is, the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide. But don’t take my word for it, here is D.W. Winnicott, English Paediatrician and Phsychoanalyst:

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.”

Wish I’d said that… Anyway, a truer statement has not been made about artists and how so much art is created.

Recently I worked on a piece to be submitted to a show in a downtown pub here in Ottawa called the Atomic Rooster. It was their annual Cock Show (as in roosters – roosters!) Last week I attended the vernissage at the pub and it was fun to see all that artwork together. It was great to see my artwork up on the wall. If you didn’t get a chance to see the work I submitted when I posted it to this blog, here it is again (the quote is by Muhammad Ali):

I Have Seen the Light

Now – Did you notice that I worked to get an artwork up in public and that I just posted a photo of the artwork so that you and anyone else looking at this blog could see it? I just gave you an example of the kind of exhibitionism I’m talking about. Maybe not shameless but exhibitionism nonetheless. I exhibited that artwork freely, publicly, and even advertised the fact that I did so.

Maybe it is a bit shameless…

But here’s the kicker: I could hardly look at my own artwork up on the wall of the Atomic Rooster. I was proud of it being up there (and that it had sold!) yet embarrassed by it at the same time. Part of me was feeling like my ridiculous contribution had no right to be up there with all those other awesome creations. And part of me felt like crowing (I didn’t). That tension behind the desire to communicate and the desire to hide was a palpable one for me that evening.

Winnicott is totally correct about artists. What we create comes from a strange place where seemingly opposite things collide. Maybe that’s a secret to the power of art. Maybe that is a way to identify good art from bad. Or maybe it is just a good thing to acknowledge, to realize that as an artist you are going to live in that tension.

When I set out to do the third of my Creative Spirits pieces, I pulled that part of his quote out to give heart to the artwork. I wanted to convey that dichotomy of an explosion of creativity intended to be viewed publicly by an artist who just wants to crawl under a rock and hide.

And I realized these artworks I’ve dubbed Creative Spirits were, to me, a simple way to express some of those realities of being an artist and making art. Those quotes I had put on this blog last week were reaching places in my heart and helping me feel a part of a greater community. I decided to explore that further.

Stay tuned…

between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide

 

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 279: Living Out Loud, part 5

Christo, Wrapped Trees, Switzerland, 1998

Christo, Wrapped Trees, Switzerland, 1998

“Here’s to freedom, cheers to art. Here’s to having an excellent adventure and may the stopping never start.” – Jason Mraz

Friday has come and I’ve come to the end of my “Living Out Loud” series of posts. All week I’ve shared words and musings from lots of creative types representing many perspectives and artistic movements, genres and eras. I’ve come away from it all with an even more solid belief in art as far more than the world gives it credit for. To me, art is imbued with the ex nihilo ability of the Creator, giving us the possibility to construct creations from virtually nothing that becomes a part of the Great Something. Art speaks to the eternal in all of us and brings out all the good, bad and ugly parts of being human. Our creative impulse springs from the foundations of how we were formed from dust to begin with. And even though we are destined to return to dust, art screams that our vulnerable flesh, blood and bone is more than dust.

Art is a blast of meaning that drives away the black of meaninglessness. Therefore, I will make art.

“Take your broken heart, make it into art.” – Carrie Fisher

“The world doesn’t make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?” Pablo Picasso

“Every creator painfully experiences the chasm between his inner vision and its ultimate expression. The chasm is never completely bridged. We all have the conviction, perhaps illusory, that we have much more to say than appears on the paper.” -Isaac Bashevis Singer

“I am interested in art as a means of living a life; not as a means of making a living.” – Robert Henri

“I do not have many things that are meaningful to me. Except my doubts and my fears. And my art.” – Chaim Potok

“I’ve come to the conclusion that the artist can not justify life or come up with a cogent reason as to why life is meaningful, but the artist can provide you with a cold glass of water on a hot day.” – Woody Allen

the-old-guitarist 1903

Pablo Picasso, The Old Guitarist, 1903

“Weirdism is definitely the cornerstone of many an artist’s career.”
― E.A. Bucchianeri

“A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art.”
― Paul Cézanne

“Those who do not want to imitate anything, produce nothing.”
― Salvador Dalí

“When the work takes over, then the artist is enabled to get out of the way, not to interfere. When the work takes over, then the artist listens.”
― Madeleine L’Engle

“Art is literacy of the heart.”
― Elliot Eisner

Antoni Gaudi, Casa Battlo, Barcelona, 1904

Antoni Gaudi, Casa Battlo, Barcelona, 1904

“I try to apply colors like words that shape poems, like notes that shape music. ”
― Joan Miró

“Art’s cruel. You can get away with murder with words. But a picture is like a window straight through to your inmost heart.”
― John Fowles

“I hope to depart in no other way than looking back with love and wistfulness and thinking, oh paintings that I would have made..”
― Vincent van Gogh

“To wake the soul by tender strokes of art,
To raise the genius, and to mend the heart”
― Alexander Pope

bill reid raven and the first men 1980

Bill Reid, Raven and the First Men, 1980

 

“Art has always been the raft onto which we climb to save our sanity.”
― Dorothea Tanning

“Modern art is what happens when painters stop looking at girls and persuade themselves that they have a better idea.”
― John Ciardi

“I would rather fail as an artist than succeed as anything else.”
― Robert Dowling

“Everything in creation has its appointed painter or poet and remains in bondage like the princess in the fairy tale ’til its appropriate liberator comes to set it free.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“I am an artist, my hair is rarely tamed & sometimes I sleep till noon,
My house is messy and I speak to the moon.
I care less about the materials that I share with my world and more about the passion inside myself.
I’m an artist, what more can you expect?
I am full of soul, love and all the rest.”
― Nikki Rowe

Paul Gauguin Tahitian Women on Beach, 1891

Paul Gauguin, Tahitian Women on the Beach, 1891

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 278: Living Out Loud, part 4

Jeffrey-Pine-ansel adams 1940

Ansel Adams, Jeffrey Pine, 1940

“Art happens when what is seen becomes mixed with the inside of the person who is seeing it.” – Chaim Potok

If this is Thursday, this must be part four of “Living Out Loud” – Words about art, creativity, misery and good bowel movements.

“The greatest art belongs to the world. Do not be intimidated by the experts. Trust your instincts. Do not be afraid to go against what you were taught, or what you were told to see or believe. Every person, every set of eyes, has the right to the truth.” – Blue Balliett

“Only in art will the lion lie down with the lamb, and the rose grow without thorn.” – Martin Amis

“We have to recognize that the language of art, all art, is not our mother-tongue.” – Jeanette Winterson

“Though I am often in the depths of misery, there is still calmness, pure harmony and music inside me. I see paintings or drawings in the poorest cottages, in the dirtiest corners. And my mind is driven towards these things with an irresistible momentum.” -Vincent Van Gogh

“The artist, and particularly the poet, is always an anarchist in the best sense of the word. He must heed only the call that arises within him from three strong voices: the voice of death, with all its foreboding, the voice of love and the voice of art.” – Federico Garcia Lorca

HorseTrain.tif

Alex Colville, Horse and Train, 1954

“Hope and Memory have one daughter and her name is Art, and she has built her dwelling far from the desperate field where men hang out their garments upon forked boughs to be banners of battle. O beloved daughter of Hope and Memory, be with me for a while.” – W.B. Yeats

“I don’t believe in art. I believe in artists.” – Marcel Duchamp

“Basically there can be no categories such as ‘religious’ art and ‘secular’ art, because all true art is incarnational, and therefore ‘religious.” – Madeleine L’Engle

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” – Rene Magritte

Helen-Frankenthaler-Adirondacks-1992-Image-via-wikiartorg

Helen Frankenthaler, Adirondacks, 1992

“If you could say it in words, there would be no reason to paint.” – Edward Hopper

“There must always be two kinds of art: escape-art, for man needs escape as he needs food and deep sleep, and parable-art, that art which shall teach man to unlearn hatred and learn love.” – W.H. Auden

“I am an artist you know … it is my right to be odd.” – E.A. Bucchianeri

“An artist is someone who produces things that people don’t need to have but that he – for some reason – thinks it would be a good idea to give them.” – Andy Warhol

“Art is a process, not a product.” – MaryAnn F. Kohl

Banksy, Don't Forget Your Scarf punk Graffitti

Banksy, Don’t Forget Your Scarf Punk Graffiti

“All real works of art look as though they were done in joy.” – Robert Henri

“To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.” – Edward Weston

“Every now and then one paints a picture that seems to have opened a door and serves as a stepping stone to other things.” – Pablo Picasso

“To create art with all the passion in one’s soul is to live art with all the beauty in one’s heart.” – Aberjhani

“Art is not a thing; it is a way. ” – Elbert Hubbard

“The recipe for great art has always been misery and a good bowel movement.” – Don Roff

Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, c.1663

Johannes Vermeer, Woman in Blue Reading a Letter, c.1663

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 277: Living Out Loud, part 3

Head of an Old Man in a Cap *oil on panel  *24.3 x 20.3 cm  *ca. 1630

Rembrandt, Head of an Old Man in a Cap, c.1630

“Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.” – Henry Ward Beecher

Today is part three of “Living Out Loud”, a series of quotes by creative people about art, creativity, and the joy and madness it brings, seemingly in equal measure.

“The principles of true art is not to portray, but to evoke.” – Jerzy Kosinski

“Love of beauty is taste. The creation of beauty is art.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“One’s art goes as far and as deep as one’s love goes.” – Andrew Wyeth

“Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.” – Winston Churchill

Claude_Monet_-_The_Houses_of_Parliament,_Sunset 1903

Claude Monet, The Houses of Parliament, Sunset, 1903

“All worthy work is open to interpretations the author did not intend. Art isn’t your pet — it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back to you.” – Joss Whedon

“creativity keeps the world alive, yet, everyday we are asked to be ashamed of honoring it, wanting to live our lives as artists. i’ve carried the shame of being a ‘creative’ since i came to the planet; have been asked to be something different, more, less my whole life. thank spirit, my wisdom is deeper than my shame, and i listened to who i was. i want to say to all the creatives who have been taught to believe who you are is not enough for this world, taught that a life of art will amount to nothing, know that who we are, and what we do is life. when we create, we are creating the world. remember this, and commit.” – Nayyirah Waheed

“Works of art, in my opinion, are the only objects in the material universe to possess internal order, and that is why, though I don’t believe that only art matters, I do believe in Art for Art’s sake.” – E.M. Forster

“All art is but dirtying the paper delicately.” – John Ruskin

Mural-1943-Jackson-Pollock

Jackson Pollock, Mural, 1943

“The object isn’t to make art, it’s to be in that wonderful state which makes art inevitable.” – Robert Henri

“Artists are people driven by the tension between the desire to communicate and the desire to hide.” – D.W. Winnicott

“If we can’t, as artists, improve on real life, we should put down our pencils and go bake bread.” – Barbara Kingsolver

“In art as in love, instinct is enough. ” – Anatole France

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way… things I had no words for.” – Georgia O’Keefe

georges rouault crucifixion 1920

Georges Rouault, Crucifixion, 1920

“Every true artist is at war with the world.” – Anthony Kiedis

“Blessed are the weird people:
poets, misfits, writers
mystics, painters, troubadours
for they teach us to see the world through different eyes.” – Jacob Nordby

“Art is either revolution or plagiarism.” – Paul Gauguin

“A fine work of art – music, dance, painting, story – has the power to silence the chatter in the mind and lift us to another place.” – Robert McKee

“Nothing exists until or unless it is observed. An artist is making something exist by observing it. And his hope for other people is that they will also make it exist by observing it. I call it ‘creative observation.’ Creative viewing.” – William S. Burroughs

“Art, in itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. ” – Stephan Sondheim

Christinas_World-Andrew Wyeth 1948

Andrew Wyeth, Christina’s World, 1948

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 276: Living Out Loud, part 2

Giotto Lamentation of Christ c.1305

Giotto, Lamentation of Christ, c..1305

“Art is to console those who are broken by life.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Today is part two of my “Living Out Loud” series: Quotes from creatives about creativity, art and inspiration, sound and fury, sturm und drang.

“Art never responds to the wish to make it democratic; it is not for everybody; it is only for those who are willing to undergo the effort needed to understand it.” –Flannery O’Connor

“Any form of art is a form of power; it has impact, it can affect change – it can not only move us, it makes us move.” – Ossie Davis

“You use a glass mirror to see your face; you use works of art to see your soul.” – George Bernard Shaw

“Art is what you can get away with.” – Andy Warhol

“Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.” – G.K. Chesterton

wassily kandisky, color study squares with concentric circles 1913

Wassily Kandisky, Color Study: Squares with Concentric Circles, 1913

“Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.” – Banksy

“Graffiti is one of the few tools you have if you have almost nothing. And even if you don’t come up with a picture to cure world poverty you can make someone smile while they’re having a piss.” – Banksy

“No man has the right to dictate what other men should perceive, create or produce, but all should be encouraged to reveal themselves, their perceptions and emotions, and to build confidence in the creative spirit.” – Ansel Adams

 “All art is a kind of confession, more or less oblique. All artists, if they are to survive, are forced, at last, to tell the whole story; to vomit the anguish up.” – James Baldwin

“The art of art, the glory of expression and the sunshine of the light of letters, is simplicity.” – Walt Whitman

Norval-Morrisseau-HR-Androgeny - 1983

Norval Morrisseau, Androgyny, 1983

 “I have an idea that the only thing which makes it possible to regard this world we live in without disgust is the beauty which now and then men create out of the chaos. The pictures they paint, the music they compose, the books they write, and the lives they lead. Of all these the richest in beauty is the beautiful life. That is the perfect work of art.” – W. Somerset Maugham

“A man’s work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.” – Albert Camus

 “All forms of madness, bizarre habits, awkwardness in society, general clumsiness, are justified in the person who creates good art.” – Roman Payne

andre derain mountains at Collioure 1905

Andre Derain, Mountains at Collioure, 1905

 “Art is the reason I get up in the morning, but the definition ends there. It doesn’t seem fair that I’m living for something I can’t even define.” – Ani DiFranco

“It is hard work and great art to make life not so serious.” – John Irving

“Artistic talent is a gift from God and whoever discovers it in himself has a certain obligation: to know that he cannot waste this talent, but must develop it.” – Pope John Paul II

“Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment.” – Claude Monet

“Treat a work of art like a prince: let it speak to you first.” – Arthur Schopenhauer

“Art, freedom and creativity will change society faster than politics.” – Victor Pinchuk

Sarah in Green Bonnet Mary Cassatt 1901

Mary Cassatt, Sarah in Green Bonnet, 1901

A Year of Creating Dangerously, Day 275: Living Out Loud, part 1

the-sower-sower-with-setting-sun-1888

Vincent Van Gogh, The Sower, 1888

“If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” – Emile Zola

I made the mistake this past weekend of looking up quotes about art. After at least two hours of reading through them and cutting and pasting them for possible blog use I realized… Holy Hannah! That’s a lot of quotes about art! I also realized how inspirational and challenging, funny and baffling they were. It was a metaphysical journey through so many artists’ minds and souls. Frankly, it was a long, strange trip but was also totally awesome. So, as there are so many quotes that were so deserving to be repeated, I decided to take this week of blog posts to do so.

Starting today is part 1 of a “Living Out Loud” series of quotes about art, creativity, artists, etc. I have interspersed some of my favorite works of art in with the quotes because that is a bit of a metaphysical journey for you through my own mind and soul. I hope these words are as transformational and motivational for you as they were for me.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” – Pablo Picasso

“Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten. Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with dry, uninspiring books on algebra, history, etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the ‘creative bug’ is just a wee voice telling you, ‘I’d like my crayons back, please.” – Hugh MacLeod

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?” – Vincent Van Gogh

sorrow-of-the-king matisse 1952

Henri Matisse, Sorrow of the King, 1952

“The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.” – Thomas Merton

“Paradoxically though it may seem, it is none the less true that life imitates art far more than art imitates life.” – Oscar Wilde

“Life doesn’t imitate art, it imitates bad television.” – Woody Allen

lubicon-alex-janvier 1988

Alex Janvier, Lubicon, 1988

“Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” – Edgar Degas

“Art is the only serious thing in the world. And the artist is the only person who is never serious.” – Oscar Wilde

“The first mistake of art is to assume that it’s serious.” – Lester Bangs

“One eye sees, the other feels.” – Paul Klee

“We have art in order not to die of the truth.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“The painter has the Universe in his mind and hands.” – Leonardo da Vinci

Shootings on Third of May 1808 Francisco de Goya

Francisco de Goya, Shootings on Third of May, 1808

 “A good poem is a contribution to reality. The world is never the same once a good poem has been added to it. A good poem helps to change the shape of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him.” – Dylan Thomas

“The role of the artist is to ask questions, not answer them.” – Anton Chekhov

“If art doesn’t make us better, then what on earth is it for?” – Alice Walker

“The aim of art is to represent not the outward appearance of things, but their inward significance.” -Aristotle

“He who works with his hands is a laborer.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist.” – Francis of Assisi

black mesa landscape o'keefe 1930

Georgia O’Keefe, Black Mesa Landscape, 1930