To Be an Artist
This summer, I did very little writing to speak of. But I did do things toward writing, so that when I get back to it in September, I’ll be ready. I have ideas jotted down in a notebook, others stored in my dodgy memory bank. I’ve had creative moments, and I’ve written a couple of freelance things. So the writing muscle has had some exercise, though not a lot. The number of times I’ve actually sat in my backyard with tea or coffee and paper and pencil this summer is quite laughable.
What does it mean to be an artist/writer? How to be? I’ve been collecting Louise Bourgeois quotations on the subject, and my only conclusion is that this changes all the time. The answer to the questions changes, and maybe the question changes too.
“To be an artist, you need to exist in a world of silence.”
“Art is not about art. Art is about life, and that sums it up.”
Let’s keep going:
“I did everything I could every day of my life.”
I like that one.
And making art is a privilege, writing is. I think we often forget that. I do.
“The artist has a privilege of being in touch with his or her unconscious and this is really a gift. It is the definition of sanity. It is the definition of self-realization.”
– Louise Bourgeois
Art and life are not so easily separated.
The courage required to weave art through one’s life is understated, in general. Bukowski said it this way:
“the courage it took to get out of bed
to face the same things
over and over
– Charles Bukowski
Let’s end with this from the artist, Wayne Thiebaud:
“Art is not delivered like the morning paper; it has to be stolen from Mount Olympus.”
I fluctuate between the idea that art is about life, art is life, ordinary life, and that art is a tricky and perilous theft. Maybe if we were attentive, it might be delivered like the newspaper, maybe it’s arriving all the time, flung haphazardly onto our doorstep. Art is a chance, a gift, a courageous occupation. And oh, silence! What a nice thought that is....