Betty J. Slade
Artists are deliciously out of balance. We move with the next great idea, not with the world. We are here and we are there, and we don’t seem to go away. We live on another plane, in another world but occupy space here in the now.
“What do you do in real life?’ One of my students asked another beginning student. The student responded by telling her what her real life was all about. I jumped into the conversation, half joking and half serious, “Isn’t this real life? I thought I was living real life.”
Here is a glimpse of the life of an artist. I had lunch with an artist friend and our conversation went like this. “I just spent $450.00 on stained glass supplies, I am missing one thing, I can’t finish it. It is just sitting there and I have lost all motivation to work on it. I am so mad at myself. I’d like to open my own studio.”
“Well,” I said, “I just spent $340.00 on ink, paper and supplies and I have sold $4.95. It’s going to take a lot of sales to re-coup my money, but it’s not about the money but meanwhile, I’ve got this great idea...”
If anyone was eavesdropping that day they couldn’t have followed the conversation, they would just be shaking their heads and rolling their eyes. Unless of course it was another artist then she would be hanging on to every word and adding her two cents with an understanding nod. So I thought it would be interesting to find out what other artists thought about this world we call real life
One of my artist friends responded this way. “When you have to clean house and cook meals, every day life interrupts everything, it throws me off balance and it’s hard to get back to my creative side. If I didn’t have to do anything else, I would be happy. I’d be better off single. If I could do my art I could go further with what I want to do.”
Another artist shares his thoughts. “I believe that it depends on the artist and where he is in his own development. For a really fulfilled artist, there is no difference between art and that person’s real life, its one in the same. I think it is the art of being.”
One fellow, who I think has a true sense of what it is to be an artist, found himself living out of his car, trying to keep a little inheritance money from going to waste. He ordered a hand-made American piano and had no place to put it. He then purchased a plot of land, moved into a camper and built a shed to house his piano. Just after he got the shed built, the piano arrived. Now, from a growing flood of inspirations, he is assembling pieces of a puzzle into what looks like it might be a new opera for our time.
Rational? No, not at all, but to the true artist, it makes perfect sense. To the rest of the world, I told him that he would be considered a cracked pot, but he says that the cracks let the light come through. He toys with the idea of being odd and takes great enjoyment in being honest to himself as an artist and he doesn’t care what others think. Myself, I am not ready to appear that odd, just interesting.
The ground-breaking abstract impressionist painter, Willem De Kooning, calls himself “a slipping glimpser”. He feels that he doesn’t quite fit in to society. When he starts to slip from society he catches a glimpse of real life and his art gives people a chance to catch that glimpse.
In a recent translation of “The Art of War,” originally written by Sun Tze in 514 BC, the translator explains the Chinese Taoist idea that, in a perfect society, the artist is the ruler. In an imperfect society the artist is like a “Bohemian ” trying to toss his influence in from the outside. In other words, the perfect society IS the work of art.
The artist is deliciously out of balance not because there is something wrong with him but because he tosses his influence into a society that has not yet understood him.
So I have tossed these few seasoned thoughts into the pot and stirred them and chewed on them, and I am showing some of my cracks, Hopefully, some light will come through another so-called cracked pot.
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