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Saturday, September 16, 2006

I Was An Artist First

I've been working on my holiday window website lately. I never remember how much work it is to update a website until I'm doing it. It's a good thing that I don't mind details, mostly. But it's nerve-wracking work, to get all of these details right or the site just doesn't register. Hope that I'm done soon.

This is a photo of me was taken while I was painting windows last winter. In order to complete the job that day, I had to tape up a tarp to keep the rain away from the window, and propped it up on my two ladders. It was quite a challenge, but I guess that's part of my ability to improvise and get the job done.

I used to really identify with the idea that I'm an artist. I don't so much anymore - I'm just someone who makes pictures for various purposes, and some people enjoy what I've made. Perhaps this has happened because I've given up a notion about being a "real" artist someday. I'm not so impressed with the gallery routine as a medium of getting my art out to people who want to experience it. Partly this has happened because I do not have anything to prove anymore about whether I can make art or not. I guess this means that I'm secure in my creative abilities. I don't feel as if I've "cheapened" myself by having subjects such as Christmas decorations or working as a sign painter.

Because I had been doing art for so long in the service of what others desired and needed me to do for them, I wondered if I had lost my own artistic direction. Did I ever have an artistic direction that was my own? While I was looking for this, I began drawing with no set ideas or plan, just to see what came out. It was very interesting what emerged. After thinking about why make are for myself, I decided that making my own art is similiar to channeling emotion. I think the other part of why I became not so interested in my own art is that I really used to be into artistically exploring the phenomena of shifting perception; in my work that came out in image manipulation. Pretty much the computer has satisfied me now in how I can shape and influence images.

As I continued to question myself, I began to understand why it was I never became a "real" artist who sold their work in a gallery. Turns out, I did not like to make art while alone, as artists are supposed to do in their own studios. I liked the environment of other people in a classroom situation to make art along-side me. So, I decided to take my drawing activities to a situation where people were talking, and see what came out.

I was very pleased with the results. Perhaps I'll enlarge one of them sometime and see how they look in color, etc. I still am more motivated to make the sort of art that is very public, such as murals, parade art or art on vehicles.

When I was living with a musician, he pointed out that I made more money at being an artist than he had ever made at being a musician. He thought it was because music is fleeting and performance oriented, (aside from the recording process.) Once someone makes a piece of art, this was a thing that could exist separate from the artist. People in this culture somehow have assigned more value to art than to music. There is this idea that musicians work purely for the joy of it; a musican is "playing" music. I'm not sure what the societal ideas are about the artist these days, but much are is bound up with advertising and selling. It seems an artist is more serious by nature. But I don't feel very serious drawing cartoons on a window! I just feel incredibly lucky to be doing so and be getting paid for the sum of my experience, skill and education.

Back to messing about with how my mbira can make such cool sounds!

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