If I Were An Artist

February 18, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

If I Were An ArtistIf I Were An Artist

"If I were an artist... " how many times have I heard that from friends, and students and just folks in everyday conversation? So many people believe they lack the "artist gene", or that "je ne sais quoi" that allows one to be creative as easily as one breathes. Being an artist has nothing to do with what you do or don't do for a living. It has everything to do with how you see life.

The images we have of great artists slaving away at their crafts, suffering fear and doubt about every stroke, dance-step, word, or note is not the only evidence of a true artist. Certain cultures, I'm thinking of the Japanese in particular, have elevated common, everyday activities into an artform. The making and serving of tea, the whole manifestation of the samurai code, even the simple act of sweeping leaves from the front steps, the placement of those same front steps, are all born of a heightened aesthetic that you feel as if you are in a work of art!

How marvelous to be in such a state of "aesthetic arrest" (James Joyce) that everywhere you look, you see the artistic forms all around. There are people, some would say "everyday people", who are incredible artists, who live artistically, that never produce what we would normally call art. Their very life, their approach to life is so attuned to artistic principles, whether they are aware of it or not, that being around them we are transformed... as if they had produced a recognizable art form.

I find many people who live in Native American traditions to be highly aesthetic in how they see the world. I think there is a natural tendency for spiritually minded people to see the world artistically. The reason it may be that a photographer/artist is able to create a work of art in an image of a farmer bailing hay, is that the farmer is  working artistically without realizing it.    

So rather than lamenting your lack of "being an artist", recognize that the harvest of all art in the world is the world itself. Learn to see, and your life itself can be a poem...


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