Friday, November 7, 2014

November Musings: The Artist's Life

“There is a vitality, a life force, an energy, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all of time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and it will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.” ~ Martha Graham

My blog post for November is inspired by an artist friend of mine, Carol Beth Icard, who has a link on this blog site (please visit her transcendent work) along with a quote by Martha Graham. As artists, we tend to question our worth in this world according to how much art we sell, how others react to it, how many galleries we're in--it's brutal out there. Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron reminds us that our job is “come as you are.” Over and over, through the years I've done this blog, I've spoken of how tough it is to make your way through this world as an artist: to stay true to self and soul, to keep on going even when your work may not be selling like hotcakes, when no one is knocking on your door to buy. To come as you are.

Yes, there are weeks and months when I wonder if I'll ever buy another bag of groceries, pay my old-house propane bill or make ends meet. Over the past decade, I have learned to find gratitude for my struggles along 'the path' of art making and creation, for the words I write. I don't do what I do to make money--that isn't the driving force, nor do I want it to be. But let's face it, this is the real world, where you need something in your billfold to get through. Somehow, every time I question myself and think I'm going to fall, something happens. A show, a sale, a commission, or someone out there in the world who discovers my work and gives me the gift of their belief and joy in what I've created, the pouring out of soul onto the page or canvas, or in a sculpture. A couple years ago, an art supporter who had just chosen several pieces pointed out to me "No one does it like YOU do." We all need to get those reminders to keep those channels open, to express our unique gifts.

Daily, I'm at it: again the old Zen saying comes into play: chop wood; carry water. Chop wood, carry water. The drum beat grows louder in my soul: time ticks loudly, and I remain ever resolute about carrying on, despite the weight of the water bucket. Or in my case, the paint bucket! On we go, amid the noise and haste (Desiderata) carrying our water, chopping the wood. I hope someone sees that sparkle on the water: for it's what gives us all life. Think about it. Buy art, not knock-off art from China: buy from an artist you know, or like. Keep on feeding their spirit, their physical body. Keep them going.

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