Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Castle In The Sky

I've been thinking a lot about the "why" of art. Actually, what I've been pondering is the "why" of anything we're passionate about.

It started with a documentary about Vincent Van Gogh a few weeks ago. I never knew until then that Van Gogh only sold one painting in his lifetime. In fact, he was a relatively unknown artist. It was only years after his death, when the myth became bigger than the man, that his work started selling like mad. Even so, Van Gogh painted. All the time. Part of the reason he didn't sell his work is that he believed his work to be flawed, and nothing short of perfection was good enough for ol' Vinnie to sell. It's a shame he never understood that it's the imperfection in his work that makes so many of us identify with it.

One may have a blazing hearth in one's soul and yet no one ever came to sit by it. Passers by see only a wisp of smoke from the chimney and continue on their way.
~Vincent Van Gogh

In the three short years that I've been painting, I've already surpassed Van Gogh's sales (while he was alive, that is) by 500%. If you count card sales into that... fuggidaboudit. Van Gogh can eat my glue fumes. So it was that I tried very hard not to take offense when someone referred to my work as "just a hobby." I could have handled "hobby," although that's bad enough. But... "just"?!

You might as well say that breathing is a hobby, because for me, art is just as essential as breathing. Maybe I'm just quibbling over syntax. "It's been known to happen before," she says wryly. However, it has me thinking about the difference between doing something that is purely for fun and doing something that is a passion. I'm not saying that you can't be passionate about something that is fun as that would negate my current existence. I'm talking about something that gets you so jazzed you can't think of anything else you'd rather be doing.

What is it in us that crosses that line? That fine line between "just for fun" and "can't live without it." What tiny little spark is it that lights the fuel in our soul and causes us to burn for something? What's that thing that says, "To hell with what anyone else thinks. I must do this!" What? I'm asking, because even though I have that in me, I don't know what it is. Sure, it's passion, but why me? I know plenty of people who are probably more talented than I, but who don't have that kind of drive in them. Maybe they just haven't acquiesced to it yet.

Maybe that's it.

Maybe it's some sort of internal evolution that causes some of us to realize that "this is it" and everything else pales in comparison. Some people know what they want to do by the time they're 10 years old. Some don't discover it until middle age (raises hand sheepishly).

If you could do anything, what would it be? Keep asking yourself until you get an answer.

If one is master of one thing and understands one thing well, one has at the same time, insight into and understanding of many things.
~Vincent Van Gogh

1 comment:

  1. If I could do anything, I would live by the ocean. I would wear white T-shirts that are too big and baggy cotton pants rolled up at the cuffs. And Chuck Taylors. Every day. But the T-shirt would probably be dotted with paint and ink and chocolate batter, because I would spend my mornings painting something, anything. I would spend my noons writing, but what I want to write, not what I have to write. And I would spend my evenings baking all sorts of chocolate treats for a skinny little man who spent the day in the salt of the ocean spray, building boats and docks and whatever else. But I have no house by the ocean. No white T-shirts and cotton pants. And no skinny little man who builds boats. So until then... sigh.


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