Art. Why we do it….

One of the things we artists dream about is being as famous as Rembrandt or Da Vinci in the distant future after our much mourned (at least we hope) deaths. We want to be immortal in that way; we just don’t always admit it. We agonize over our legacy, we stress over gallery acceptance, we worry about the viewer “getting it”.  We deal with toxic substances, we set the kitchen on fire when we add just one brush stroke too many with pork chops in the pan, as that one stroke on the canvas in the living room  turns into ten or fifteen.  We listen to relatives who think we should give up our charming “hobby” and get a real job, and worst yet, there is always some philistine that compares one to Thomas Kincade; that is the ultimate insult, in most artists opinions. Not that Kincade cares; he’s laughing all the way to the bank.

And there’s another part of the dark side of art; sales and galleries.  We want to sell, we dream of selling at high prices, of being able to pack it all in, telling the boss to stick it, and making a living from our art. That is a Helluva dream, one I share, that has become harder since 9/11 and harder still since the We-Don’t-Call-it-a-Depression-Recession hit. The shrinking of the middle class sure ate into the daily operating costs of the life of an artist! So sales aren’t the big reason we do it, we just say that to justify to ourselves and those boorish relatives that we take this seriously (isn’t that a laugh?! Take this seriously…We take this as seriously as the proverbial heart attack! Take it seriously…snort).

Then the stress of the gallery thing. How do I go about getting in? What do I do to make the good first impression? What if they don’t like my art? When will I find a gallery? And the largest question lurking beneath the surface, the one we DON’T want to ask, is are we good enough? Is my work good enough, or is the inner voice right? Does my work suck? Am I a bad artist, and if I don’t find a gallery to represent me, am I a real artist, at all (Yes’m doubting artists…you are real. Maybe real good, maybe real bad, maybe really mediocre, but still…you are a real artist!) ?

So why do we ultimately do this? Why do we ultimately create? My theory is that we have to, that it is part of a brain that can think abstract thoughts, part of a brain that sees shapes in clouds as animals, a brain that sees an ancient horse in the bumps of a cave, like Lascaux. I think the creative drive is part and parcel of the human brain. I think it helps to keep us healthy both physically and mentally. I think it is a very healthy means of self expression for a complex, dynamic brain.

Psychopaths have no creative spark. Rorschach tests with psychopaths show zip for creativity. They have approximately a three year old’s level of imagination in regards to this test. My source for this information is from my class this last term on Forensic Psychology. Our professor told us that these people score very well on physical activities, but they have minimal creativity. This may be because they have ten percent less brain matter, so they have ten percent less activity in  their brains. In my view, this backs up my theory that creativity is inherent to the non-psychopathic brain.

I think we do it because we have to; not for the soggy gallery fare at openings that we would rather not be at because that many butterflies in the tummy ought to show like a scene out of that old movie, Alien. We do it because we hear a siren call, a call that pulls us out of bed, a call that leads us to spend our last dollar on pigment instead of milk. We do it, in  short, because we have to. No matter what our medium, no matter if it’s 2-D or 3-D, or a mix. Or dance, or poetry or short stories. I think we do all of these things because we have to. In this case, I say Thank you Whom or What is in Charge, thank for making THIS my OCD.

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2 responses to “Art. Why we do it….

    • I had no idea he died this year! That explains some of the activity I’ve seen, a recent upswing in sales of his work. Karma in action, hmn? He sure caused a number of small business owners who believed in him trouble. I remember during his heyday, going into a mall in Medford, OR (I’m pretty sure it was Medford) and there were TWO galleries owned by two different franchisees!! Totally unsustainable.

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