adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

WHY I DON'T PAINT MUCH ANYMORE

The purpose and goal of the arts is, first, to discover and understand ourselves and our world and, second, to communicate that discovery. In this, the arts -- whether literary, musical, visual or even culinary -- are not much different from science and religion. They're all different roads to the same destination (and therefore always intertwined).

If one had asked me twenty, thirty years ago what I 'did' I would have answered 'art.' I saw myself as a painter before all else. Right here I should admit that, although I took some art courses in college, I actually took my major in history with specialization in art history. I could have gone on in that and was accepted into grad school in the art history program but I decided I'd rather make art than teach or curate.

No doubt, the fact that I have that art history background is one of the reasons I'm interested in theory. Or perhaps it's the other way around -- I just naturally like to put things in order so I was attracted to the historical and theoretical side of the arts!

Anyway, on the subject of different roads to one destination, I found that I'd rather lost my way in painting. I didn't know what I wanted to say, much less how to say it. Oh, I could draw pretty pictures of birds and animals the rest of my life -- it's something I do fairly well -- but it would not exactly be fulfilling.

Yet I have found myself more and more able, as my craft improved, to express myself through writing and music. I suspect that, in time, this will allow me to better clarify my thoughts and apply new insights to art. At least, I hope so! I'm not about to abandon the painter's life entirely.

I'm a pretty harsh critic and editor of my own work. As such, I'm not very accepting of compromise nor of work I consider unworthy. Especially now, as I grow older, I feel the need to dedicate myself to creating the best art I can. If it can come from my brush, that would be great; if it comes, rather, from my pen, so be it.

(This is a tangent from an essay about the 'purpose' of art on which I have been working, probably for the PV magazine.)

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