Thursday, December 11, 2008

Ars Gratia Artis

"Without Art we are but monkeys with car keys."

Last night an acquaintance said, "Anyone can draw. Anyone can be artistic." I nodded in vehement agreement. It's the same thing I've often said about music or writing. Anyone can do it. It may take a bit of mental reprogramming, a tilt in perspective, but it's out there for anyone to claim. No, not everyone who picks up a purple crayon is going to be the next Degas; not everyone who plucks an old guitar string is going to be Clapton; and not everyone who puts pen to paper is going to be Shakespeare. C'est la vie, so what. Real artists do it because it feels good.

This morning (on the radio), as if following the thread of conversation from last night, my favorite DJ, Marty said something to the effect of, "I've always thought that everyone should have something in their campfire basket; something they can pull out when things get too boring or serious... a magic trick, a guitar, a story... " Amen to that.

I feel fortunate. I've often said that I've rarely ever been bored because I know how to entertain myself. With any luck, I know how to entertain others as well (the paradox here is that I think myself a boring person because I'm such an introvert). I can shuffle and deal a deck of cards, make music, act, draw (badly), and I can even pull off telling a joke with some small measure of comedic timing.
Some of the best times in my life have been time spent with people who tell a good story... nothing but the sound of their voice and the scene they were painting with it. I love that. It's no great surprise that the men I've been highly attracted to, and even fallen for, are/were great story tellers. It's a trait for which I have huge admiration. Take me down your path... please!

A little over a year ago I went camping in California with Timothy and some friends. We were having a great time around the campfire. I was totally relaxed and feeling fairly uninhibited. What followed (to my complete amazement) was me basically doing a good half hour standup comedy routine ('cept I was sittin' on a log). I was in rare form - the jokes just started flowing and my timing was flawless - I don't think I could have stopped if I'd wanted to. Of course, it helped that I had a very cool audience which was under the influence of tequila, which was flowing like... uh... tequila. Point is, it just felt so good.

Years ago before TV and radio were invented, this is how people lived. Almost everyone had some kind of entertaining skill. The candles and fires were lit against the dark, maybe the jug was passed, the fiddle was hauled out, the yarn was spun (literally and figuratively), songs were sung, poems recited. My guess is that no one ever rolled their eyes and said, "I'm bored." I've been without TV reception for over three months now and I can honestly say that I don't miss it. Sure, I still have my DVD collection, which offsets the occasional need for boxed entertainment. But, I've created, sung, played, and read more than I have in years. And I listen to the quiet - there's volume in it.

What's in your campfire basket? You've got something - turn off the TV and turn off the lights - find out what it is. Get lost in the glow of a mood, rather than the glow from a box. You'll be amazed at the places you'll go.


  1. Great, great post.
    i'm also introverted, but get me around good friends who can take a joke and i really open up.
    In my campfire basket? Cooking, art, ofcourse, i can tell a fairly decent story and i give back to the group by being a good listener.

  2. Thanks, Jess... and I'm SO glad you're back online!!! You're more'n welcome around my bonfire any ol' time! Of course, I'd probably have to hog-tie you and drag you from my art studio first.

  3. Damn, you write exactly what I'm feelling right now. And this comes from an Art student ^^


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