“An artist is a product of life, a social creature. Of necessity he cannot mingle with people as much as he would like, but he reaches them through his work. The artist is a spectator of life. He understands it without needing to have physical experiences. He doesn’t need to participate in adventures. The artist is interested in life the way God is interested in the universe. The artist has his own life to live; he has to pause and select and find something to say about it. In his work he seeks to express his understanding with all earnestness.” John Sloan, American painter (1871-1951)
I love being an artist. Like many artists, I am not a creature comfortable with assembly, i.e., a gathering. I love my alone time in front of my easel, away from people. When I’m with people, my mind is always at work in the background, imagining and creating, shoving to the foreground ideas that feel important. I find it difficult at times to concentrate at meetings when my mind is busy working on my next art project. Sloan knew this about artists. He said, “The artist has a song to sing.” I am singing all the time.
Being an artist has made me a somewhat introverted person. A doodler, a scribbler, a dreamer with his head in the clouds. But I wasn’t born introverted, nor was I born an artist. However, being introverted has made me more of an artist. A better artist. In my mind, I take things apart, study them, all within a spacial adventure of color, shape, texture, and design. I do it alone, privately, shaping a thought into form that becomes artwork of my soul to share with the world.
Sometimes sharing is wonderful. And sometimes sharing is not so good. But that’s okay. Art does not please everyone, of which I never try. I don’t believe any artist should create art to suit critics. Neither should artists create to suit buyers, either. Money and prestige have damaged the word artist just as jury exhibitions and awarding prizes are harmful to art. Sloan said, “The artist is in competition with himself only. A bird does not sing beautifully because there is a contest. Great men are not even aware of competition. When people vote about matters of taste, the thing selected is always mediocre, inoffensive, innocuous.”
I exhibit my art to show the world what I’ve done because art is supposed to be seen. Even if it isn’t appreciated, it should never be hidden away. Art should be shown. If it is found to be beautiful, it should never be put on a pedestal and elevated. If it is found to be ugly, it should never be covered or destroyed. Art is art and should never be more or less than that. No worship, no hatred, no political gain, no wars.
If you’re an artist, I say leave the critics by the wayside and create your art.
Whether someone thinks your art is worthy of an award or not, leave the critics by the wayside and create your art.
Whether someone thinks your art is worthy of all the gold in the world, leave the critics by the wayside and create your art.
And more than anything, have fun while doing it.
Like Sloan and countless other artists have said, the only reason we’re in the profession is because it is fun.
Long live art.