"In my experience, it is rarely a matter of struggling with HOW to become an abundantly creative and successful artist. It’s almost always, at the bottom of it all, a matter of finding a strong enough WHY.” — Sebastian Michaels.
Why we make art is a challenging question for me, one with so many answers … because we can, because we have to, because it’s how we find out who we are, because ….
Why do we … why do I … make art? I’m beyond thinking that it’s about making a living or being recognized. However, from the moment I discovered digital art or digital collage, and felt that first wow! of creating something that pleased me and spoke to me, I was hooked.
For me, I think the payoff is self-discovery with, sometimes, the added benefit of appreciation from others. Part of me is still that kid from Kansas who never, ever expected to make art or live a creative life. No one is more surprised, and grateful, than I am to get to be part of this nebulous thing called art and creativity.
That doesn’t mean it can’t also be frustrating. Yesterday was an example. I am loathe to post the result of almost a whole day of things not working. However, just because I struggled and failed to create a pleasing composition doesn’t mean the struggle wasn’t worth it. Ugly children are loved as much as the cute ones. (I hope.)
Challenge #14 was described as: Imagine this composition to be a page torn from a secret journal from childhood. The whole idea threw me into chaos. I couldn’t make it work, couldn’t even figure out what I wanted to say. My childhood journal history was mixed. I was drawn to journals but afraid to put my words on the page.
The more I struggled with this project, the more I realized that, as a child, I was afraid of being seen, more comfortable being lost in a book than digging into my own thoughts and feelings and risking exposing them to the world. Even my handwriting was tiny and illegible. Being a wordless chameleon was safe.
Still as an adult, I had difficulty with journals, fearful that my words were dangerous … to me, perhaps to others. Collage helped. Putting images together allowed me to play with beauty and open up to new insights while maintaining a safe zone. And, sometimes, a few words demanded their space on the page.
So, yesterday as I tried to find a way to get all this onto a digital canvas, I struggled with truth about my past and the beauty of my present and tried to find a way to blend them together. I wasn’t really thinking much about Sebastian’s question of why we create art … until the final two words landed on the canvas: Be seen!
I think that is my why. I am on the last phase of this life journey. There are a limited number of years left for me to discover who I am, why I’m here, and “what’s it all about, Alfie?”
Exploring the world with my camera and making art from what I find, tells me who I am, and, perhaps, in some way, helps others know who they are. That’s the biggest WHY I can find.
Be seen. It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes which apparently comes from Bali.
“Someone out there needs you.
Live your life so they can find you."