Tonight you spent $50 of your hard-saved money on a Chinese paintbrush kit. Your art teacher taught you how to do Chinese brush art last week and you’ve been chattering on about it ever since. You love anything to do with color, shapes, texture and form. You are an artist. Not because you paint or draw well – which you certainly do – but because you do everything imaginatively. You “see” things differently, and you have a unique perspective to share.
There will be some well-meaning people that will want to share their perspectives on your love of art. They will kindly try to put your art in a safe, pre-shaped box. Really, it’s to keep them from feeling scared for you…they don’t want you to feel disappointment. But when you see them coming, remember that it’s more fun to ride the roller coaster, than to watch it, safe and sound, on the ground.
These adults or your peers may be teachers, family members or friends that will try to give you “guidance” on which type of art you should allow yourself the pleasure of. It will be hard not to listen to them because you’ll love them, respect them, or care what they think about you. Always keep only one ear open to them. You are the expert on your life and you art…no one defines what your art is – even the ones that have nice things to say.
The world we live in puts art into two categories: “real art” which sometimes comes along with public praise, acceptance, scrutiny, showings, mingling and money – sometimes a lot and sometimes not. The 2nd category is “art as a hobby.” It’s “nice.” Something one does on the side of “real life” when there’s a little extra time on hand. The only difference between these two is perception…nothing more.
You participate in your art, first and foremost, because it brings you joy and helps you to express who you are, without boundaries. It provides you a release for all that is inside of you. Don’t get caught up in the struggle of whether or not your art is “real”; do what you love. You are not one dimensional. You can have a career in science, medicine, education, or politics and still have your art to fulfill you.
So many artists think that if they’re doing anything other than creating, they’re not being true to themselves. That’s misguided. In order to create beautiful, meaningful art you must be immersed in life – all aspects of it – the precious, the sublime, the sorrow, the humor, the messiness and the miraculous awakening of it all!
If you’re struggling financially and don’t have something to feed the rest of your mind and soul – a fulfilling job – then you miss out on the ordinariness of life: the quiet trudging, everydayness of existence that is the plain, flat soil in which the rest of your life blooms. You cannot be in a constant state of creativity. You must, at times, be fallow.
There’s no shame in working for a living while creating the sacred in everyday life. There’s no shame in spilling your heart out into your art to inspire us all to continue living and to keep believing.
Following your passion doesn’t have to be an “all or nothing” deal where you’re either creating all the time, or you sell your creative soul short to find a career. You can, and must, do both. People reach out to art for meaning, and to find some sliver of themselves mirrored back. You must give them something to relate to while you move their souls with truth and beauty. You must give them yourself, my love.