A friend once called me an artist.
Here’s what I do: I write, I take photographs, I (used to) sketch. Apart from that I do not do anything that could be considered artistic. That’s about me. Let me also tell you something about this friend who said that I am an artist, who, by the way is an artist. He is 70 years old, has dedicated his life to art–by creating it and teaching it; propagating it.
Yes, my friend is 70 years old. And my life is that much better.
When he calls me an artist, I cringe. I’ve never thought that I was one. I’ve known some artists in my life (and I am married to one, therefore all these thoughts) and there is no way that I have the slightest resemblance to the temperament that is the mark of an artist. A personal definition – the definition of an artist – is a combination of (a) modesty, (b) arrogance, and (c) reality. These factors show up in varying degrees, when we face an artist. For any of these three factors to be expressed, however, there has to be inherent in the artist a belief. A belief that he or she is an artist. All that the person has to do is call himself, or herself, an artist. It starts there, but it definitely does not end there. Post-proclamation is where the arduous journey begins.
The one thing you need to be an artist, is skill. In my opinion, that is the least of your problems. Enough schools and colleges will help you with that. And, of all the accumulated artistic pedagogy that you can secure and all the skill that you can acquire, there is no assurance that you will become an artist, unless you bequeath to yourself the temperament of an artist. There is no school for that, unfortunately. There isn’t a process, there are no templates. Nor are there any rules or short-cuts. I have never acquired this temperament, so I speak with little credibility, but the true artist is forgiving.
There are other emotions that guide an artist: anger, cynicism, jealousy, strife, deception, trickery. For, if you would think of an artist as all things nice, you would be hugely mistaken. But hate is not one of those. If hate is an emotion that guides, or even exists in your life, you are automatically not an artist. The entire soup-bowl of human emotions (minus hate) is the palette of the true artist. Paints are a medium, only, what we spread on a canvas are feelings. One thought here: when we look at art, guided by what the critics tell us, our emotions are reduced to the critic’s emotions – who is a critic, not an artist. The critic is an analyst; the audience is the experiencer.
I came a long way, didn’t I?
I am not an artist, as would be obvious by now. When my artist friend says that I am, I take it, not as a compliment, but as a statement by an artist who lives the emotions of an artist. I experience love in that mention. The context of an artist is very different from the way you and I see things. Artists are magicians. They transport us to worlds previously unknown.
I am not one of them. I thank you dear friend, for calling me an artist. I respectfully decline. Someday I might prove that you were right. Today is not that day. I am trapped between the physical, ethereal, and the spiritual. When I escape this triumvirate, who knows.
My dear friend, I know what you mean. Give me some time. I receive your compliments with much honour, I just choose to take time to be worthy of it.