The Laws of Nature

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Optimism & Art

It's the weekend - the time when I step away from the weighty job of reviewing the art theory books and have a little fun. This also gives me time to reflect on the substantive comments written by you. There's a lot to consider, but today I want to focus on "optimism." I've always thought that artmaking is an optimistic act, and our good friends Hallie and L.W. were good enough to remind us of this in yesterday's comments.

What makes art an optimistic act? For me, it's the hope and belief that the outcome of my endeavors will be something wonderful and meaningful to me. When I paint, I sometimes catch myself holding my breath. I'm fascinated and excited by the process. Brush to water to pigment to paper over and over again until something new appears - sometimes unexpectedly better than I had imagined. And, I get to do this day after day, week after week, and year after year! What could be more perfect?

But, there's even more: I see this in the works of others - YOUR work. It makes me realize what a precious and fragile community of artists we are. I love this community and want to protect it and nurture it. Nothing gives me more pleasure than to help other artists advance their work and professional standing. We need each other, especially (as Orland points out in his book) because we get little encouragement from the rest of the world.

This afternoon I treated myself to a movie. I went to see "Secretariat." Granted, the real story was "Disneyfied" to the point of some major distortions, but that doesn't matter. The point was to show the triumph of the human spirit in the face of adversity. It was a joyous celebration of individual strength. That's how I see life as an artist. It IS a struggle - there's no easy path. But isn't the struggle rewarding? Doesn't it make us value what we do even more? And, doesn't it help us value each other more as well?

So, my thought for the weekend can be distilled to this: embrace artmaking with joy and exuberance - no matter what.

Have a great weekend!


Anonymous said...

Thanks Kathy! I've read and am now caught up. Good stuff- the comments are always wonderful to read. Have a great weekend too.

hw (hallie) farber said...

Thank you, Kathy. It was gracious of you to mention my blog.

I'm probably optimistic only about art--I'm optimistic that I can paint or sculpt what's in my mind. I'm not optimistic about sales or others liking my work; that's why I'm sometimes pleasantly surprised. I am grateful that I have time and space for process I love.

In all other areas, I prepare for the worst. I'm amazed that half the population is not dead from H1N1; that paper money can still be used to buy a loaf of bread, and I'm waiting for the tsunami that Edgar Cayce predicted would wipe out the East Coast (he was probably seeing global warming).

You make us think.

Robin said...

I feel the need to be in this blog community of artists (and art patrons) because we really do need to protect and encourage each other and isn't there a special bond amongst us bloggers? Have a good rest of the weekend, everyone.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kathy, I hope you're having a great weekend. I do enjoy the reward of working on my art...with that, I think I'll go pick up a pencil!

Casey Klahn said...

Way to go, Peggy! I am in need of the pencil, too!

Never interrupt someone doing what you said couldn't be done. Amelia Earhart.

Optimism I feel has to be somewhere in one's general character. It will come through in your painting, inevitably. Or, rather, the real you will out in the course of painting one work after the other over time.

Coffee helps.

I remember Secretariat winning the TC back in - was it the seventies? Even a guy who doesn't follow horse races has to be uplifted by that. Makes me feel great just thinking about it - like the miracle on ice or something. I remember Secretariat ran against a horse named Riva Ridge (I'm not looking this stuff up). That name is for a battle my dad fought in WW II. I visited and drew a picture.

I had the same "Cinderella" experience as in these sports stories this year, and believe me I didn't expect it and pictured myself crying if I won an award. I did, but I didn't quite cry. Guess there's room for improvement there.

Thanks for reading my ramble. Refill now.

Dan Kent said...

Thank you. I needed that this week. You remind me of my crazy, delightful, ambitious, almost impossible (did I say crazy?) art-making dreams. And I have not deviated from my path since the start, and whatever happens it has been wonderful and will continue to be. I guess, then, you could call me an optimist.

Sharmon Davidson said...

I never thought of it that way, but you're absolutely right- art-making is an act of optimism, as well as an act of faith. And that observation begs the question: Faith in who or what? Since I'm the one making the art, I must conclude that it's faith in MYSELF. I've hardly been a fountain of self confidence, so this comes as a bit of a shock. Does this mean I actually believe in myself?! What an amazing realization- seriously, I'm not being sarcastic- I'm astounded!!

Linda Roth said...

We all seem to agree that art is optimistic. The very fact we pick up a brush and face that empty canvas determined this will be the greatest attests to that fact. Had dinner with a gal Friday night who wondered why I bothered to blog or paint! "It's a waste of time," she said. "No," I said, "It's a calling, a necessity. a connection to life and a way to reach out to others." She rolled her eyes and sniffed. I don't think I'll be seeing too much of her from now on. What a sadsack!

Unknown said...

Hi Pam - Yes, I also learn a lot from everyone's comments. Just great! Have a good weekend.

Hi Hallie - you make a good point: if we're pragmatic then we need to be balanced and that means balancing optimism with some pessimism (or, at least realism). Thanks!

Hi Robin - indeed, there's a wonderful bond between all of us!

Hi Peggy - and, it's a joy to see what you produce!

Hi Casey - I love your musings. Those special moments that propel and inspire us help fuel our optimism, in my opinion. I don't paint to get awards, but when I do I feel elated. Validation helps.

Hi Dan - keep the dream alive!! Thanks.

Hi Sharmon - you made a very important observation: believing in oneself is essential - no matter what the discipline. Long ago I kept telling people that I wanted to become an artist. Someone finally said to me, "You ARE an artist!" It made all the difference in my confidence and professional standing. I think of it this way: if I don't believe in myself why should anyone else??
Thanks for your sincerity.

Hi L.W. - you make another great point: the company we keep is essential to maintaining our optimism (although, a true optimist can remain one even in the worst conditions). It is important to be among those that recognize, encourage, and support us. Thanks!

Mark Sheeky said...

Pessimists don't even try, or they give up, so all artists are optimists. You are a pessimist if you don't believe in success. And if you don't believe in success you are right to be pessimistic! So believe in success!

-Don said...

I've never lacked the optimism to create. But, I felt the lack of a community to share it and my ideas with. Our online community has helped to connect me to other wonderful artists who I would otherwise have never met. And I am much the richer and oh so much more optimistic because of it. Thanks for being such a good friend.


Celeste Bergin said...

I'm with Don..I don't know exactly where I would be without the internet..because I decided long ago that making paintings were for those who already knew how to do it and who had time for it. Then I discovered people like me online...who just threw their hat in the ring for no other reason than......optimism? Really doubt I would have done it without encouragement from people online.

Unknown said...

Hi Mark - you have a great way of expressing yourself. I agree!

Hi Don - so true ... I feel a real comraderie with my online friends even though I've met so few of you. This is a very supportive, open, and candid group. Just great!

Hi Celeste - wow, I can't imagine you NOT painting! and I'm relieved to know that your online friends helped you stick with it. Whew - that was close!

Carolyn Abrams said...

Hi kathy, just catching up on your posts. This is a great one! I never thought of optimisim as a verb....but the very act of optimisim as we create is an excellent thought to keep with us!

Unknown said...

Hi Carolyn - yes, indeed! Thank you.