Electron Fast

simpleflowersI have not posted or visited this site for a week. I have been on an “electron fast”, forsaking all activity on the computer and television (except for those things absolutely essential to my business). The rest has been liberating. I have enjoyed several additional hours in each day, time which I have spent reading, drawing my city, listening to music, writing, thinking, playing board games, strolling, and whatever else took my fancy.
Reviewing my emails, I see that only a couple of people wrote to me to ask why I had stopped my daily postings, to inquire after my situation, so I guess it was okay to be gone from the virtual world for longer than usual. Clearly, I had been taking the burden of regular, committed writings more seriously than anyone else. The discussion group seems to be firing on all cylinders and traffic to this site has ground down even further than it did when the group began. My suspicion that people needed other creative folks to talk with has been confirmed and my own role can easily be assumed by many others.
To add to my humility, I have also decided it’s time to start learning from other teachers besides experience, intuition, and books. A good and generous friend has begun to instruct me in color theory and I am staggered to see the depths of my ignorance when it comes to watercolors and how they truly work. It’s a lot more than just whipping together colors on my palette and slapping them on the paper as I have been for years. There’s an enormous amount to learn about chemistry, physics, manufacturing, aesthetic theory, and the wisdom of the ages.
I have also begun attending life drawing session at a nearby atelier, and am humbled once again by how much I need to learn about anatomy. The data passing through my eyeballs is insufficient to draw people accurately; I need to ‘see’ beneath the skin, to comprehend the body as a whole, to practice from scratch again.
Every time I feel I can relax on my laurels, feel competent and proficient, I see how much of a beginner I am. My grandfather is still alive and fifty years older than I, so hopefully I still have much time left in which to study.
Hubris is a terrible vice for a creative person. The arrogance of accomplishment is as bad as the fear of beginning; they both prevent one from taking risks and jumping ahead.
Over the months that I have been keeping this log, I have assumed a role to which I have no real right. I am not an artist and yet I have been judgmental and critical about so many artistic matters and have pretended to provide advice to people who were probably far further down the road than I. I have placed myself along practicing, professional artists, have bemoaned the plight of those who are starving, maligned and ignored. And yet, who am I, but an ad guy with pretensions, a well-fed, Sunday painter, a guy who’s gotten more breaks than he no doubt deserves.
I have written cheerleading, rallying cries, encouraging others to draw around the clock, and yet when I look at my own output for the last month, too much of it was created for those who will, or may, pay me for what I produce, rather than for the sheer love of it.
And as for my electronic asceticism, maybe it was just an attempt to shirk my responsibilities, or worse, to see if an echo would rebound through the silence.
I believe in Art. It is my religion. I study it, I practice it, I seek comfort and guidance in it. And yet I am flawed and hypocritical and human. Art deserves better.
Obviously, I’ve spent some time soul searching. And I’ve spent time feeding my soul too. It has been a sweet feast and only the appetizers have been served; there’s still a lot I intend to do to discipline myself more, to elevate myself more, to deepen myself more. Ultimately, I would like to come a little closer to that thing I have merely pretended to be. An artist.