The Laws of Nature

Monday, November 8, 2010

A Community of Artists, Part 1

The View from the Studio Door: How Artists Find Their Way in an Uncertain World
By Ted Orland (2006)

Image: work by Andy Goldsworthy

Chapter 10: A Community of Artists, Part 1

Before I begin this final chapter of Orland’s book, I’d like to announce that on the left-hand column of this site I’ve created an index of art book reviews and discussions posted here. We’ve had some rip-roaring discussions that you’ll want to read, and often the authors of the books joined in! Just select the name of the author and it will take you to the first day of our discussion. Have fun and feel free to add your comments.

Back to Orland’s book. He begins this final chapter with a quotation from Alan Kay that I can relate to: The best way to predict the future is to invent it yourself. Well, we may not be able to invent a fully predictable future without the interference of unanticipated events - but, I do believe in inventing my own future. Nearly twenty years ago I developed a philosophy that I coined "My Rocking Chair Story.” Back then, I had reached a critical point in my life that required changing nearly everything. As I considered where I would go and what I would do with the rest of my life, I had an epiphany. I envisioned myself as an old woman sitting in a rocking chair on the porch of a retirement home with a stranger sitting in the next chair. He turned to me and said “Tell me about your life.” Immediately, I realized that I wanted a great story to tell – full of accomplishments and adventures that were all true! So, I began to make life decisions that would make my life's narrative exciting and interesting. It’s been quite a ride!

By extension, we artist are inventive and (hopefully) have the freedom to chose what we’ll create and when. We can decide to make our voyage interesting or dull, exciting or depressing, jubillant or sad. It’s up to us individually and as a community of artists who can offer support. Taking risks and venturing forth into uncharted territories can lead to unimaginably rewarding experiences in art. And, if we help each other it's more rewarding.

OK, so I didn’t even get into Orland’s text today. Next time.

Carpe diem!


M said...

I've always felt I had a great deal of control over shaping my future and my life has proceeded accordingly. When I decided to be an artist at age 50 I took the same attitude and it has worked out . Like you, I am a take action type of person. Good planning skills and a focused work ethic are always a bonus when you want to succeed at something.

I'm finally settling down with more free time and my painting and blogging are back on track. I'll be chiming in again. I feel like I've missed great discussions over the last two months.

hw (hallie) farber said...

This is a bit scary. I decided on Saturday that it's time to use my Barnes & Noble gift card. I picked a couple of books; then remembered that I had wanted to buy several that you had discussed--what were the titles? I thought I'd be spending a lot of time reviewing your blog. Today you published the titles and authors. Thank goodness for ESP!

I don't think we'll be sitting on the porch rocking.

Linda Roth said...

I have no plans to rock--unless it's in the studio to "Hunk A Hunk of Burning Love."

Control is what we all want and what we really don't have. "The best made plans..." blah, blah. Luckily age, makes us just a bit forgetful.

Robin said...

Andy Goldsworthy is amazing, so are you. More recently I have been looking at my past, present, and plans for the future and I can honestly say I have followed instincts, sometimes made zigs when I should have zagged, and always try to remember to be open. Being open leads us down some of the most interesting pathways.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Robin that being open is the key.
You do have a marvelous story Kathy! And I'm so glad to know some of it here.

Dan Kent said...

Love your rocking chair story. I have something similar. I like to imagine telling a crowd in a speech: "This is the situation I was in, and this is how I got beyond that." Still in the situation, and still trying to get beyond..

Mary Paquet said...

Thanks for the index to the book reviews. Frank Webb has mentioned a couple of the books this week in his workshop and I wanted to reread your posts before I rush off to the book store.

What a fascinating story about your crossroads. You will have a great life history to repeat, but like Hallie said, we won't likely be sitting on the porch rocking. That said, I make sure that I do what I want to do each day, because life has taught me that it can be fickle and some things are beyond our control. We do have control over how we respond to what life throws us, and yours was a great response.

-Don said...

So, how'd you get that photo of the path I've followed so far?

Rock on!


Unknown said...

Hi Margaret - it's great to know that you're settling-in again. I look forward to your posts and comments!

Hi Hallie - wow! What a coincidence! We must be on the same wavelength :-)

Hi L.W. - so true! The trick is being flexible enough to abandon our well-made plans and go down another path. Sometimes the new path is much better than the planned one.

Hi Robin - yes! I just wrote the same thing to L.W. and then scrolled down to read your comment. So true ...

Hi Pam - I agree that being "open" is very, very important. I remember, as a child, thinking that older folks were set in their ways and not open to new ideas. Now that I'm their age, I question if I'm flexible enough and try to be.

Hi Dan - you always make me smile! Being in a "situation" used to mean (about 50 years ago) that the unwed girl was pregnant or the guy was in jail. And then, there's Wolf Blitzer who's always in "The Situation Room." I wish they'd let him out!!

Hi Mary - if anyone has a full and interesting life - it's you!!! You've done a lot, girlfriend.

Hi Don - good one! I know exactly what you mean :-)