Art as Storytelling
We are all familiar with the lone artist stereotype. The struggling creative living alone in a garret. Creating out of a desperate need to express themselves or communicate a vital message that humanity must hear.
The rebellious non-conformist outsider. The outcast of society. Because artists are different. They are ‘special,’ they ‘see’ things. They are on the verge of madness and dream outlandish dreams, more powerful and terrifying than the dreams of mere mortals.
And it is due to their tenuous hold on sanity, that artists must live alone. Who in their right mind would want to live with an artist? Forever leaping up with moments of “Eureka!” and frantically splashing paint around. Then, later, slumped in the depths of despair over a bottle. All artists are borderline alcoholics too, you know.
This is the picture society generally paints of the driven, almost maniacal artist figure. Largely based on the eccentricities of Victorian artists, particularly Vincent Van Gogh, this stereotype is long outdated and needs to be changed.
This is not to say that many artists are not eccentrics. Most actually cultivate a persona of foibles and quirks. It is uniqueness that stands out, after all. For some, this comes naturally.
It is also not uncommon for creatives to suffer bouts of depression after ‘birthing’ artwork.
There are also “Eureka!” moments; sometimes even in the bath, or at dinner with friends, or at other inconvenient moments… inspiration can’t be rushed.
And it is not uncommon to get so caught up in the process of painting that a few stray dabs get out of hand. The energy of flow takes over and, well, better stay safe and wear an apron…
Are we maniacs? Fanatics? Perfectionists maybe. Sitting for hours drawing a highly intricate knot work pattern my not be everybody’s idea of pleasure. But the end result is worth it.
In fact, many artists are probably somewhere on the autistic spectrum.
But, although artists dream, their dreams are no more extraordinary than anyone else’s. it’s just that creatives are trained to remember dreams better. Artists look for inspiration in their dreams…
“Seeing with the eyes of an artist” is a skill. It is something that is either intuitive (then you are a born artist) or must be learned. For most artists, it is learned though long hours copying still life setups or old masters.
Are we all rebels? Well, many creatives are not comfortable with the status quo. In fact, most individuals I know are unhappy with it. Not only artists. Politics are a mess, the economy is unstable, technology is insidiously taking over our everyday lives, and there are conspiracies everywhere.
This may be largely because people have more access to ‘information’ about these things due to the internet…
So, we can all see the world’s not perfect. But creatives can articulate it better. Just exactly why is the world the way it is? And if we did this or this, maybe our world would look like this.
The creative mind uses imagination to conjure up “what if…” scenarios. These are visual cues which can be assimilated into the collective consciousness of humanity through the label ‘Art,’ and used to change our thinking about the way of the world. Art changes us. And by extension society, eventually.
At least, that’s the hope.
Artist in society
In society, artists can appear no different to you or me (not surprisingly, since I am an artist and whoever reads this is more than likely one too). But, an artist in the street, can appear to be an everyman (or woman).
Anyone trying to make art in the type of world we live in must either be very rich to start with or have a part time job to fund their art. Or, alternatively make such good art that it sells for a fortune and you can live off it.
This latter scenario is much rarer, because in order to become a ‘famous’ artist, one has to learn the basics first. That takes time, money and patience. Lots and lots of all three. Over many years.
People like to tell you there are shortcuts. I used to think these was a quick fix for most anything. But the quickest way is still to just do the work. The easy way is almost always too good to be true.
An artist might be one of those faces you see every day behind the till at a supermarket (like myself) of an office worker or delivery driver. If