So far this millennium has been a strained and sweaty passage. As the moorings are loosened, it seems that any and everything could unravel. A terrorist attack a half a mile and four years away, still feels like it could metastasize and engulf my life. A hurricane a thousand miles away prompts my mother to buy new insurance while I seek reassurance that my home sits a hundred feet above the ground, ground made of rooted bedrock.
Our government is hopeless and corrupt rather than governing: our religions are a source of division and destruction rather than comfort and moral guidance. It’s tough to express opinions in this climate, tough to make plans, tough to depend on the wisdom of one’s years. And yet, I’m optimistic.
Our times are about keeping it real and perhaps, as our illusions shatter, we’ll be left with a more reasonable set of expectations. Maybe we’ll stop hoping to be lottery millionaires or movie stars or CEOs. Maybe we’ll stop idolizing fabricated celebrity and vicious gossip and impossible perfection. Maybe we’ll realize that true love doesn’t depend on fake breasts.
Nature is brutal and beautiful. One moment the seas are placid, the next they inundate the condos on the shore. We act surprised, oblivious to the millions of years of hurricanes that have shaped our coasts into random, twisted lines. We fantasize that there is a divine plan, an intelligent design behind this terrible judgment. Instead, we must come to see the beauty and the brutality as unpredictable and inevitable. We must relearn our place on the planet and in the universe. It’s time to get a little humble.
Think about Katrina and New Orleans next time you draw. Release the 20th century need to do it right, to make it perfect, to lay down lines just as you’d planned. Instead, take a moment to acknowledge your own imperfections and contemplate how your personal deviations are helping our species to survive. There is no room for perfectly met expectations on this wobbling globe.
The river is ever flowing, breeching its banks, leeching into its bed, never stopping to pose. Everything you draw is mutating as you draw it. Every nanosecond, your pen, your fingers, your sketchbook are all in a flux of atomic migration. We are not grindingly consistent computers, you and I, and we don’t live in Sim City. A twisted, crooked line is the only true line.
Study the gnarled tree, the rotting apple, the ill-kempt hairdo, the defecating dog. Capture the spirit of this imperfection, this constant change, and allow yourself to breathe as you draw. In and out, up and down, tendons bowing, bones creaking, brain cells dying, ink evaporating, paper curling. Ride the act out, and don’t dare think of posterity. If you draw just so you can hang your work on the wall for eternity, your picture frames will exploded in the hot glow of the ever threatening blast. Draw only for exhibition and your gallery will be washed away in the gathering deluge.
Imperfection, misjudgment, failure, these are what you have and don’t dare flee them. Embrace them, cherish them. For chaos is the true way of the world, of your soul, of your destiny of Art with a twisted capital A.
Study your world and draw it. Draw crooked, draw with a stick, draw in the dark, but draw. Draw for now, for today, for this moment. It’s all we have. And, believe me, it’s more than enough.