adventures in dysthymia

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


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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