The life of the artist


It’s been a long few weeks, even months really. It could be that artists are a more sensitive type, or maybe I’m just crazy in the head.  But it’s been a long time since I’ve felt hope at all.

Except, for some reason, and for once, my brain isn’t ready to give up and be depressed. While I sit here listening to the beautiful music of Hans Zimmer, something has changed.

I get a vision of the next bit of time in my head, whether that’s weeks, months, or even years, I’m not sure. It’s not the typical dark, depressing image that would usually flow through my brain right now. This time it’s different.

Luckily for me, it’s one of my favorites pieces of art, Caspar David Friedrich’s A Wanderer Above a Sea of Mist.

There are lots of reasons why I love that painting, most of which I cover in a previous blog post (right… about… HERE). It’s relevant now because, as has happened in the past a few times, I’ve reached a crossroads.  Usually that means I have to pick between the monster on one path, or the dark, bloody trail on the other.

But something’s different now.  I can’t put my finger on it, but it doesn’t feel like the same old darkness.

It feels like hope.

I don’t know why, and I’m sure the depression is still strong. But I seem to feel that a new path is there ahead of me now.  One that I may even win on, with a bit of struggle. I look at my art, and I’m starting to see truth in it.  I’m starting to accept what I do inside, torpedoes be damned I’m going ahead with it.

I think a lot of that is just the idea that in life I haven’t been handed much in the way of support. Yes, I know that sentence doesn’t fit with the rant so far, just bear with me. In my daily life I have very (VERY) few supporters. I’ve had plenty of day positions where all I hear about is the bad, never the good.  That certainly drags on a person, makes them feel worthless, makes them depressed and, well, gray.

But, to steal a title of a movie even before my time, a funny thing happened on the way to the forum. I picked up this little thing called a pencil, and started drawing.  Then I picked up a paintbrush, and started painting.  Then, actually, I put the paintbrush down since I had a tiny apartment and the fumes were trying to kill me.

After opening a window, I picked up a less-poisoning ink pen, scratchboard tool, digital tablet, and all the things that I use now. All the things that I use to create my own worlds, my own visions, my own life.

Somewhere along the line, and this isn’t to sound vain as I really am not, but I started getting ok at art.  Even published here and there. I even have two whole fans, people who like what I do and want me to do more.

I realized after that, and after seeing the horrible, unsupportive people in my local life (we won’t talk about the web, where I have FAR more supportive folks), that I’m looking at the wrong end of this life of mine.  I need to turn my back on those people who only want to depress me, to scar what little self confidence I have, and don’t look back.

To listen to those supporters out there, to listen to those who can give me suggestions on how to be better at my work. Not to ignore the world, but to embrace those who are there to help and be constructive, not those who would battle for no other reason than to see me fall.

I’ve decided to walk in the shoes of Friedrich’s wanderer, to find out what lies in the unknown. It won’t be easy, it may even be the most difficult thing I’ve ever attempted.  But I think it’s time to put aside this dark life, and strive to become what I so desperately want to be.

I read a quote by Theodore Roosevelt recently that’s really stuck with me, so I’ll end with that. The time to choose a path has come.

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

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