An Artist?

I had written to a friend saying I don’t pay attention to certain things like proper filing of papers and washing the cars because it takes too much time away from the fun, creative parts of life, the intent being to free me from the (?) of life.

She wrote back saying “That’s because you are an artist!”

I wonder. Am I an artist? What does that mean? It’s too easy of an answer.  I have enough of the credentials to be called an artist, including an undergraduate degree in both studio art and art history. I have owned art galleries. I personally create art in clay and do brush painting on paper. I have a Studio where we create from my designs, some of the most magical relief works I have ever seen. I design jewelry, furniture, and other art objects. I have designed and built a couple houses in Bali and am planning more. (Architectural design has been a calling since I was twelve years old.) I write extensively and people tell me that writing is inspiring and well crafted. Yet I question the title: Artist. It feels like a very tight box.

From what people say and write about being an artist, it is a life full of angst, doubt, and dry periods. It is hard work, they say, and the final creation never comes up to the level of the vision. They worry about being understood and accepted and want to eventually to be in the great galleries and museums.

If all the above is true, I am definitely not an artist.

I don’t live in a world of angst. I accept fairly easily what comes my way and I am grateful for an amazingly happy, healthy and creative life.  I make works of art and craft and don’t take much time to worry about what I have done or not done. I  am essentially a maker. I make things. If you read my writing, you will see a man who is not without introspection, but doubt about creativity is not a problem.

I haven’t known a dry period for decades. My problem is having far too many things to make and not enough time.  It is fun and exciting much of the time, though editing writing can be hard work and it takes long hours to make other art.  My vision for a piece never matches the final creation but more often than not, it turns out better than my vision. I guess the vision shifts so much in the process I forget how it was supposed to turn out. I’m not often disappointed with my work. If I’m not failing some of the time, I’m being too safe.  I just don’t know where to put the actual failures. I can’t seem to throw them out, thinking one day I will see the source of the failure and the piece will turn out great in the end. That really doesn’t happen much. Failures are mostly just that, failures. Tries that didn’t make it. Turn the piece over and try again. It’s not all that personal.

Accepting my art? Well, I like for my art to sell. It needs a place to go. Being accumulated in a closet is not fun. I have been fortunate in this department. People readily understand and accept my work well enough to buy it.  In my writing, the goal is not for acceptance or understanding. I am exploring my mind, other people, and the world around me in my writing. What I write and share is shockingly personal, yet I don’t take responses too personally, in that I am not defined by the acceptance or rejection of what I write. I like it when my writing or art gives people inspiration, when it takes them to unknown places and opens the internal and external worlds for them.  It lets me know if the work is succeeding in communication.  Nature is a large part of what I explore. It is real, pure, mindless and thoughtless. We need that in our lives, given the level of thinking (having thoughts) we engage in minute to minute. Nature is a break from that. If I can provide that kind of break through my art and writing, then that’s a good thing.  A question is if none of what I do communicates; none of it touches anyone else or inspires them or gives them joy or brings beauty to life, then would I go on?

Getting my work in great galleries and museums was a dream when I was young. I thought if that happened that meant I am accepted, appreciated and worth something. I wanted and needed proof.  I may have grown up a bit since then.  I really do see that no amount of external acceptance and appreciation will fill me with self-worth. Only I can do that for myself.

Either I am a raving lunatic or a somewhat wise animal, a good bad dog and most likely I am all of the above, but an artist?


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Having journeyed to the Far East and Asia over 20 times in the past 20 years, I’ve been intrigued and inspired by the ingenuity, craftsmanship, balance and human spirit that have gone into the making of those works I have seen and collected.

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