Everybody knows, “Artists are different.”
Oh, artists are different, all right. Often portrayed as eccentric and irresponsible, artists are typically stereotyped as being moody and withdrawn. Melancholy is the personality most frequently assigned to artists by armchair psychologists.
While an artist can be gregarious in some social settings, flamboyant in the way she dresses or eccentric in his behavior, they are typically seen as introspective and sullen; brooding and unkempt. The portrait painted of the painter almost always portrays a far away look in the eye. Far away, as in, despairing. Or, is it disturbed?
Artists are different primarily because they see their world differently than most people. Less artistic types see their world in terms of information, logic, equations, and tasks. Creative types see their world in colors, textures, sounds, and movements. Non-artists tackle their world in terms of duties to fulfill. Artists, in terms of designs to create.
I rarely look at anything that I don’t wonder how I would paint or sculpt it if given the chance. And I don’t even paint!
Artists live in the tension between their creative imaginations and current realities. Rare is the occasion an artist does not straddle what is real and what he would paint if he had a brush in hand or a camera at the ready. There is life, and then there is life as an artist would render it if given a canvas.
Unlike most people, an artist can see what does not exist. If given a chance, he’d add a touch of his own creative flair; his own artistic interpretation.
He’d make it better.
He’d adjust the color here. He’d add some texture there. He’d move that piece over next to that other one for greater impact.
He’d push the ottoman a tad closer to the club chair before taking the photo. The only problem is nobody’s taking a photo of the casual conversation unfolding between friends relaxing together in the living room. This isn’t a photo shoot. It’s a memory unfolding right here in the middle of real life. Out of place ottoman and all.
An artist can’t stand the artistic inconsistencies of life. I mean, he can, but he just doesn’t like to.
Every experience, every moment is a canvas upon which an artist splashes colors, textures and sounds that others cannot see or hear.
An artist never stops thinking about how she would draw, paint, photograph, sculpt, write, compose, dance or sing the very moment she is living. She is always interpreting life in the medium she loves most. What color would be best? What angle would be better? What texture would best capture the moment she is living right now?
For the artist, almost every experience is inspiration for a new work of art.
· The rhythm of the windshield wipers stirs a poem.
· That warm drop of milk on a mother’s wrist inspires a painting.
· Another call from the collection agency evokes a song.
· The jumble of tubes and technology at the bedside of a dying loved one births a sculpture.
· The stir of pigeons set to flight by a homeless woman sparks a photograph.
Not a moment passes that an artist isn’t making a mental composition in the sketchbook of his mind. Many artists carry a notebook with them for just that purpose. Always on the prowl for a fresh idea, an unlikely observation, a release of words otherwise elusive until this unspectacular moment sitting here waiting for the traffic light to change.
Rarely is anything in the world around him exactly like an artist would like it. At times, this leaves him a bit annoyed; frustrated by the lack of resolution in his artistic worldview. It is this artistic tension that often leads creative types into places of introspection, sullenness, and even despair. Artists withdraw, curtains drawn, in some passive-aggressive snit with life.
Unfortunately, if an artist is not careful, nothing about reality is quite as good as it could be. If not careful, everything is disappointing.
Everything! Settings. Occasions. Experiences. Moments. Every one of them could be slightly better. Warmer. Colder. Sunnier. Rainier. More yellow. Less gray. More PMS 324. Ought to be acrylic rather than watercolor. Less strings, more woodwinds.
An artist can sit on the rim of the Grand Canyon on an absolutely gorgeous day and be disappointed with a seemingly misplaced cloud in the sky. It’s not where he’d place it on his canvas if he were to paint that very moment he is experiencing. It would be slightly higher in the frame for greater impact.
Artists understand the rules of perspective, the movement of the eye, and the color wheel. What was Mother Nature thinking when she placed that cloud outside of the proper third of the frame?
If only that cloud were slightly lower in the sky to better sync with that particular peak of the canyon rim, then the moment would be perfect! And if that sky were a bit more azure it would really highlight the orange in those rugged cliffs.
Nothing in real life is quite like the artist imagines it. The artist sees everything differently.
Sadly, if the artist is not careful, the way it should be can spoil the beauty of what is. The way he’d design it can rob reality of its artistic genius.
This is dangerous; an artistic liability, of sorts. What is our greatest strength can become our undoing. When an artist’s imagination begins to steal the beauty of reality, his heart is in danger.
If not careful, this creative angst can lead to tremendous disappointment and even, an abiding discontentment with life. Like all stereotypes, the "moody artist" is born in partial truth.
If your vivid imagination sees everything you experience different or better, you risk being disappointed with…well…everything.
To my artist friends, don’t do that to yourself. Don’t do that to those you love. Don’t do that to your world.
Learn to embrace the beauty of life as it is really is. Don’t edit the hues and contrasts to your preferences. Don’t Photoshop all of your experiences to a more vivid likeness than life intended.
If you wish to see it different, then draw it, write it, paint it, photograph it, sculpt it, dance it, or sing it. But whatever you do, do not spoil every reality with the high definition fantasy of your imagination. Otherwise, your entire life could elude you as a dream that vanishes when aroused from your sleep. Upon waking, you’ll discover that you missed the beauty in what was real.
There will never be an artist as talented as Life. You should appreciate all the art she offers you. Just the way she creates it.