Make Art

Sorry guys, I’ve been pretty burnt out lately. I passed out so hard last night I forgot where I was. (And I forgot to post). 

But I’ve noticed that all of you guys have been keeping up the passion and the spirit. And it’s awesome to see, no matter what you believe in. 

I mean, people are really making a stand right now. They’ve stopped hitting “like” on Facebook and they’re actually taking their message to the streets. It’s amazing to watch and wonderful to be a part of. 

But the best part that I’ve seen? People are looking for new ways to express themselves through art — to cope and to rally. To reassure and rebel. To express and address. And I just love that. 

Because in these times, we’re gonna lose sight real quick of anything that isn’t absolute priority (like clean water, apparently). And as society has shown us, art isn’t always on the top of our list of things to be saved (like NPR, for instance). But it should be, and we can make sure of it. 

So if you feel so inclined and impassioned, you should definitely march and protest, but you should also make some art. You should sing a protest song, you should paint a sign, and you should absolutely write your own blog. Because even though our society won’t admit it, it needs artists, especially during difficult times, to remind us of who we are and why we should continue to create when there are many forces asking us to destroy. 

Chasing Inspiration

I know this one is going to hurt, because it hurt me too, but inspiration is not your problem, although you would like to think it is. 

The reason that you haven’t created something isn’t because the room is too hot or cold, your computer is too dark or too bright, or even because “you’re just not feeling it now.” 

The reason is…well, we’ll get to that. First, I want to tell you about how I got to it. 

I went somewhere new this weekend, somewhere beautiful and thought-provoking. And I wasn’t trying to write or even document any part of my trip.  Of course, even though I wasn’t trying to, doesn’t necessarily mean that I wasn’t. I was just barely noticing the stream of words that were babbling by in my head, little lines from potential poems or half written articles for imaginary magazines. It had been awhile, I admit, but they were definitely there. 

And when I returned from my trip, the words were still there. They’re there now. It’s just that I haven’t done anything with them. I haven’t allowed myself the time to write them down. To see what they could eventually be. 

So, no. Inspiration isn’t the problem. Take a foot off your trodden, routine path and you will find inspiration. Heck, even look hard enough at the mundane and you can find the extraordinary. 

But what you can’t find so easily? The time to dedicate to your inspiration. But that’s the most important thing. Without doing something, you’ll never know how good you are. And without practice, you’ll never know how good you can be. 

So, chase inspiration. But ask it to leave you alone when the time is right to sit down and make use of your muses. 

The Picasso Effect

Art is weird, right?

I mean, it’s the expression and perspective of one person at one time in space. So, it is completely dependent on how their ability, ideas, and experiences will shape their work. (Note: This is why that dog on a spaceship that your 3-year-old nephew drew doesn’t really look like a dog on a spaceship. But you’ll hang it on the fridge anyway).

And that first element, ability, is the really important part of art. What good is an artist if he or she cannot render how the world really is as well as what the artist perceives?

Well, actually, it turns out, that artist can still be pretty darn good if he or she does not adhere strictly to the rules of reality. Take Picasso. See Exhibit van Gogh. Look at Monet. Just because they didn’t paint in a realistic style does not mean they couldn’t. In fact, they needed a core understanding of how to paint “well” in order to deviate completely from the straight forward, photorealistic self-portraits of the time. If they had stuck to their basic skills learned in any class, they would have created art. Instead, they chose to strip away all of their knowledge and so made masterpieces.

Let me give you a more concrete and less abstract (art) example. I know how to dress to fit in. I know what make up to wear. I know what hair style is current. I know all of this because it is being forced down my throat in every media outlet, but I also know this because other people are reinforcing it for me by the way they style themselves as well. In the end, I could easily put on the right clothes, the right make-up, and do my hair the right way, and I might be considered by popular media to be “pretty.”

But I reject striving for “prettiness.” Instead, I strive for “me,” and my own truth, whatever that may be, and yes, my own truth sometimes eclipses with popular media’s desires for me (van Gogh did craft a self-portrait, after all), but mostly I try to step out of the box that people try to put me in, the same box that they try to stuff Picasso, van Gogh, and Monet in when they told them that they were not making art.

The basic point is that I know all too well how to fit in. I would have no trouble doing so, like a leaf floating down a fast-moving stream. It is that I choose not to.

Whenever you rebel against the norm, it is the Picasso Effect at work. It is simply doing what is different and new at the cost of your own personal comfort and the comfort of those around you. (Because when you aren’t doing what people expect, they get uncomfortable real fast.)

My only hope for you is that you will effect to the highest degree of Picasso, whenever faced with the choice to do so. That you will acknowledge your teachings but abandon them in favor of your own vision, irregardless of your ability. In the end, my one hope is that you will stay true to yourself no matter what the cost.