I've had a rough couple of months and my subscribers know that my newsletter--which I've sent to their email inboxes religiously for the last two and a half years, once a week--has been absent for the last two weeks.
I must confess, recent heartbreak and difficult situations have made me question my path as an artist. Sometimes a broken heart opens a floodgate--of memories, regrets, and yearnings.
Perhaps not so much a floodgate, but a whirlpool, sucking one into dwelling in the past.
When I've expressed my desire to friends and family to quit making art and to move on to other dreams, I'm surprised by their strong reactions. I'm not only urged to continue making art, I'm told that I can't possibly stop making art.
I've done a lot of things in my life, tried many careers. I don't think I'm done yet, not by a long shot, although part of the anxiety I had in my youth of finding and following my "bliss" is no longer there. I'm just curious at this point.
Some would say I need to be passionate about whatever I do, or do next. I think that would be nice, but I'm not sure it's necessary anymore. People have asked me if I have a passion for art and the answer is, I don't.
This doesn't mean I don't enjoy making it. Or that what I make isn't important to me or to other people. It doesn't even mean that I'll stop making art if I ever stop doing it professionally.
What it means is, I don't have this burning desire to do it every single waking moment or that I'd rather do it than almost anything else in the world. Some people do and I've met them, and I almost envy them. But artmaking isn't like that for me. It's more like meditating. And I know there are people who are passionate about meditating, but for me, that activity is beyond passion.
I make art because I can, and because I believe that what I make is beautiful, and that beauty is absolutely necessary for well being.
I make art because there are people out there making pain and war and hate.
I don't make art because I think it's important, but because I think it's a good thing to do. Like planting flowers.
I don't make art to be of service, and even if it ends up being that, it's not my first intention. If I smile, it's because I'm happy. If a flower blooms, it's because it's time to bloom. I'm not advocating selfishness and I'm certainly not advocating martyrdom. I've finally learned that I'm no use to anybody if my own needs aren't met first.
So--do I plan to continue making art? I admit--I've been toying with the idea of returning to school for a degree in interior design or counseling psychology or both. They've both been things I've long been interested in, with interior design taking the lead (although if you think about it, they're both about working with interiors to affect psychological states!).
Now there's something I'm actually passionate about--but I'm not sure if I'm merely interested in looking at and discussing interior design (like good food or a movie), rather than doing it. Not every passion needs to be translated into a career.
If I go back to school, I will have to reprioritize my work as a professional artist. There may be fewer auctions and paintings, but my final answer is No, I won't stop making art.
Oh, so the Original Finger Painting above: It's a tightly cropped pic of two lovers (I'll reveal the whole painting when it's done). Partially nostalgia and an expression of loneliness, but also an homage to Le Lit by Toulouse-Latrec, one of my favorite paintings. (Only his was more colorful and a painting of a prostitute and her john sleeping!)