making art, making life.

The world is a very grey and dismal place at times. There are deaths, horrors. We are all alone in these little bodies, floating around, disconnected most of the time- from each other and from the ground we stand on. Most people DO live quietly, desperately, working and thinking and amassing a thousand new worries each day.

Most people walk around afraid, nervous. Or angry. Or just focused on the task at hand, which for more people all the time involves merely surviving the vicissitudes of economy and thrift, of bad jobs or no work. Of struggle. Life is mostly struggle and concern for most people on earth, and for the rest it can be even worse.

It’s our job, as artists, to show people that there is more. I am not a religious person, nor even a spiritual one. I do not believe that there is a sky-man or any kind of conscious entity watching over us carefully, or interested in our problems. I do not believe. BUT- I do believe that the world itself is a being of grace, and by truly seeing it, and being within it, we can lighten our weight. This entails details.

When one is in a chain gang, there will be a beautiful weed sprouting in the ditch. When one has lost hope and is starving, there will be the smell of dry morning air, and the sunrise. When the worries about the future become too much, there is still the present.

I know this doesn’t make up for any of it. I also know that there are times for all of us when we realize our solitude, when we are alone and in pain, in the dark. Cold and possibly hopeless. In those times it is art’s job to expose the alternatives, to bring the world into us and that way bring us out of ourselves.

Art doesn’t have to be “good” or skilled or perfect or even beautiful to do this. It will be a different view for each artist and a different piece that speaks to each viewer. Sometimes the crude and the ugly do this much more effectively than the pretty and the sweet- actually for me, when I am alone and in pain in the dark, it is the reminder that others have been there as well that helps. And art that speaks this way is often NOT beautiful to look at.

nude watercolor painting, naked smileI need to sell art to live- to pay rent. To eat. If I could give it away and not be homeless I would. But the necessities of the world insist that my work must be valued at a number. I know that for some the value of their work is low and their hours are long and hard; that they must do work which is difficult, upsetting, dangerous. I am lucky to be an artist, I am privileged in ways not many are. I love my work. That alone is a stroke of fortune.

People who hate their work but must do it deserve my best efforts, because I know that at times my work, seeing my work and interacting with it, is their release and their reminder. Artists have an obligation to try their damnedest to do that, and to do it as best they can every time.