Finding Yourself

Being an artist seems simple enough. On the surface Being a person seems like it should be simple enough as well. I have found that what applies to art applies to everything else in most cases. In a sense life is the ultimate art. I think the exceptional artists have realized this and come to living as an artist as a seamless endeavor with all other parts of their life. They come to a place that, ‘it’s just what I do’.

‘What do you do?’ Seems to define us. ‘I do watercolors’… response-‘ No, I mean for a living.’… ‘I know, I do watercolors [or glass or metal or oil]. I make watercolors and I sell watercolors’…response- ‘Really? You mean you can make a living doing that?’ This is a stereo-typical conversation when it comes to the arts and I have always wondered why there is this wide gap between the reality and the perception. Something I have both experienced and seen is that if you want to make art your profession you will make art your profession just like any other career.

You will do the things required to make that life happen at all costs. Herein is the rub. Most love the fantasy more than the reality. Most won’t put themselves in the kind of places that make you feel naked and vulnerable but also contain the most potential opportunities. It is an ironic thing to me that in the arts we can view it as a hobby or a gratifying something. Imagine practicing medicine as a hobby or the law or any other thing that requires and fosters a dedication and passion. Art is as important as these and history has proven that. Passion evolves into sharing. Being a part of something bigger. As we develop into accomplished creators we need to know how to share what we do both socially as well as materially, in other words how to present ourselves.

There is a great line that says,’ who lights a candle then puts it under a bushel? But rather let your light so shine among the world that they may see your ‘good works’… Good works…Love that description…You have to believe that what you express through art are those very ‘good works’ and to show it to the world matters. So presenting yourself and your work well reinforces your intent and your point of focus. Who runs a race and then stops right before the finish line never to quite get there? I find those who stop at ‘isn’t creativity wonderful and that’s enough’, to be running away from something despite their fight to make this statement true. It makes them feel better.

But imagine if the artists who have created the great works of world art decided to do that. Think of all we would be robbed of culturally, personally and historically. Think about how different the world would look if artists held onto the belief that creating was enough without sharing. Being an artist is just as important as being a doctor or a lawyer or an architect or any other practice of excellence. There is a responsibility to share on some level. This is part of finding yourself. Knowing what it is you want to say and share and explore. Confidence in your art and yourself, feeling you have something to contribute to the creative field that surrounds us is knowing yourself. No apologies. No holding back. Here I am whether you like me or not.

I have always been a little cautious of the words ‘finding yourself’. It implies you have lost something. Maybe it’s more ‘emerging or allowing’ like a butterfly out of a cocoon. It’s there just let it go. No holding back anymore. I am enough. I have worthy things to say. My work matters and how I present it and myself does too. I matter as much as Warhol, VanGogh, Picasso, Rembrant. Really, you potentially do…Just imagine what might be if we really believed this about ourselves and what we might contribute, almost instinctively,  to the best of who we are as artists and people.

note: I have decided to make better use of the blog image by doing what I do well which is to identify extraordinary works of art from my point of view. These will come from all around the world and are artists that I admire and think speak powerfully. The image above is Italian sculptor Bruno Walpoth. The work is made from wood and amazing craftsmanship and aura. Do love what he does.

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  1. Great post Tony. Just a note to let you know that the image doesn’t show up when you receive the post by mail which is such a shame 😦 It’s a stunning piece by Bruno Walpoth and thank-you for sharing it.


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