I was talking with someone today about drawing. It started off a bit dry, acknowledging the mechanics of leaning and teaching, but I noticed the more I talked, the more excited I got. I was caught up in the spell of artmaking, unable to keep my emotional connection to it out of the conversation.
I can forget easily how it feels to do the work. There’s a lot of discussion and analysis, and plenty we do in art school. But to connect the two is a great gift. Artists who write about what they do aren’t always the best at it. Read Jerry Salz, the art critic, and it’s bursting with love for art. Similarly (uncle) Paul Klee, though with less abandon.
I must remember the massive seas of feeling inside that connect me to art when I talk about it in an analytical way. I think our passion is the best connection we can have when we try to get others to understand or participate.
It was a small thing. But today, I got to share one of my favorite painters to someone who had no idea they shared the same name: Per. Per Kirkeby is, of course, the Danish abstract landscape artist (not that it’s a niche for him).
There’s something vital about sharing the things we love. Sometimes it’s a show, often an album or song, and here and there a visual artist who captures our souls to the point we feel like we’ll explode if someone else doesn’t share the explosive potential with us.
It’s human to be so excited by art. And it’s human to want to experience it in some social way, too.
Just kidding! It’s a ridiculously complicated question, to which I’ve only ever seen educated guessing and speculation, and those explanations lack satisfying answers. Really, most of the articles claiming to tackle he question just lead to more questions within.
And why not? We don’t really understand why we do it, why it compels is, why so many of us want to defy the long odds of scarce audiences, fans, and followers to make it a centerpiece of life.
Maybe the questioning is the most important. Answers are necessary for science, explanatory power and evidence for claims and phenomena. They aren’t so important for art, essentially because it’s mysterious and strange.
So here’s a mere guess. What we know is that humans are driven to endlessly reinterpret the world outside our minds and present them to others. We keep returning to the mysterious power of it. And entertaining a mystery is not only fun, it’s rewarding.
It’s not that life on its own isn’t enough. It’s that art gives us the creative power we see around us all the time in nature. We’re the animal who questions, and art reaches questions only dreamed of in other fields.
Someone at work asked me what I wanted to get out of my blog. I have no idea! I didn’t have a good answer, but I fumbled together something about maintaining a daily habit, and taking on a challenge like putting something new into the world every day, even if it was a brief sharing of someone else’s thing.
I get a lot of satisfaction out of doing this every day, even though it’s not always easy to think of things to post. But I don’t want to view anything in the manner of a corporate raider, that the things we do need to return a profit of some kind—not to mention seeing merit in squeezing every asset until there’s no more value to cash in. I’m certainly not against valuation of creative work, nor profit. It’s just that I think we need more reasons to rethink and do an end-run around value calculations as reason to do something.
Always remember—I’m telling myself as much as you—the word “amateur” has the root for “love” in its beginning. Amateurs are dismissed and professionals lauded, but the labels say nothing about skill or depth or potential. Love comes first, figuring out making any money is later, at some point in the list.
I don’t know how well I can bring anything to being. But what I want from the site, at least at this moment, is to share what I know and the creative things I do. I want to inspire you to start doing the creative thing you’ve long dreamed about but have always put it off. And I want to be one of those things that’s there for you every day, as long as I can do it. All those things are an automatic Phase 3 by also being Phase 2.
Information wants to be free. I’m a sucker for contemporary takes on free-exchange-of-ideas or gift economy idealism or similar openness, despite my suspicion and wariness of hippies and Boomer free love types. I apologize if such stereotypes offend you. My biases should be open, too.
The ability of anyone and everyone to start and maintain an online creative presence is simultaneously its triumph and its downfall. When I was making a comic book in the mid-90s, I used to say (with a smirk I’d like to slap off my own face, looking back at it), “the best thing about comics is that anyone can do it. The worst thing about comics is that ANYone can do it.” But there was then, as now, always room for good work, stuff that was crafted with care and heart, work that was dedicated and sincere.
It’d be nice to be able to make at least a partial living on our creation. Hey, I’m working on that side of things, too. But, as Cory Doctorow is fond of saying, the biggest impediment to creators isn’t piracy—nor the huddled masses yearning to download for free—it’s obscurity. And there’s a big picture reason to get your work out there into the mix.
We thrive on stories, songs, and spectacle. Creations need to be shared. We all benefit from a large pool of human-made soup, sweet sour or salty as it may be. Ideas come from other ideas, all of it laid on the bricks of the past, from time immemorial, when the first beat was drummed, the first song sung, the first dance grooved, the first story told, the first drawings scratched onto rock. Sharing is imperative. And it’s utterly human.
Keeping work to yourself is spinning your wheels, so sooner is better than later. Habit is good, but if it all stays at home, we lose out on your part of the recipe.