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Art Is About Experience

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

It's time I write something about art again. I've been deep into spiritual teachings and experiences that have been mind-blowing and helpful to me. But the other mainstay in my keeping some semblance of sanity and joy has been my art. I hesitate all the time to call it art. I am profoundly afflicted with imposter syndrome, but if we just say that art is:

*the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power,

then I am an artist. And for our purposes here, anything can be art as long as you made it -- as long as you created something that didn't exist before.

But what if you're introverted (that's me), didn't go to school for art (me again), you have a full-time job, are a parent (yup), aren't independently wealthy (hello)...and on and on. How can you be an artist, keep going as an artist, think like an artist, etc. when you're riddled with doubt?

These are questions that Jerry Saltz, senior art critic and 2018 Pulitzer Prize winner addresses in his book How To Be An Artist. It's a great little book. Little in terms of pages and actual size, but it's big on ideas. He's been looking at art for a very long time and shares some insights that I found to be useful (yay!) and inspiring.

Near the end of his introduction to the book, he says this:

I hope the ideas here will help you to start thinking more freely and creatively, and to trust your work itself to make you successful as an artist. Not that the goal is to be rich and famous, although those things are fine by me; I hope all artists make money, even the bad artists. No, I want you to trust yourself because that's what you'll need to get you through the dark hours of the creative night. I want you to open yourself to what the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein meant when he said, "My head often knows nothing about what my hand is writing." In other words: Learn how to listen, and the work will tell you what it wants.

This idea of trusting yourself speaks powerfully to me. Not only as I approach my painting practice, but the spiritual journey I've been on since 2019. He continues:

So start your engines; jump in; feel your imagination engaging with reality, pushing away boundaries and conventions, and changing before your eyes.

Never feel intimidated. Art is just a container you pour yourself into.

Get to work!

Love it!

*Oxford Languages and Google

This is one of my paintings. It is a tapestry of love. It is experience.

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