When you're an artist, you give yourself a license to kill. What you kill is fear. All kinds of fear, because it takes courage to create. When you create something, you are putting a piece of you out there, and that requires a boldness. An artwork is like a piece of glass; it reflects. In a Dali painting, you can see a piece of Dali's mind at work. Within the pages of a great novel, you witness glimpses of the author's life - even if that novel is not outright autobiographical.
It just happens that way, when you put your soul into something. The artwork turns out to be a piece of you. And sometimes you send that piece of you, whether it be a book or a painting or a sculpture, out into the world. In this way, artists live many lives. They live on in their work. Similar to how parents feel as if they live on in their children.
Back to this license to kill thing. If you want to create, you also have to destroy. What you destroy are your ideas of limitations. You kill the idea of "I can't do it" or "I'm not original enough" or "I'm not talented enough." Then you get out the pen and paper, or the paintbrush, or the molding clay and then ... you do it.
The art of doing something is that you just do it. That sounds silly, but it's true. When you create, you are doing a positive thing. When you destroy for the sake of art, you are killing off that negativity and you're doing it out of love. How can you not? That's what making art is all about. You put your heart into it, as the saying goes. That means you put a piece of you in the painting, the sculpture, the writing. You share yourself intimately with the work, because you care for it. You love it that much.
To really create something, to put all you've got into it, to make it the best you possibly can, you've got to love it. Fear has no truck where love abounds.
Let's say there's something deep inside you that wants to get out. You can feel it pulling. It's been pulling at you for years, but you've been too scared to try. Too scared to paint, to write, to sing, to dance, to express yourself creatively. Your mind has come up with a hundred different reasons why you "can't do" what your soul calls you to do.
My suggestion is to throw that fear aside and just do it. You want to paint? First step is buying paint. Then some brushes. Maybe some paper, or a canvas. Then you follow the old Ernest Hemingway rule: "Apply ass to chair." Here's the thing - you don't even have to know what you want to paint! Start out with a few lines, maybe. As Picasso said, "To know what you're going to draw, you must begin drawing."
Play around with the colors. Have fun. And then, maybe out of those colors, out of those lines, an idea will emerge. Like a thin thread, you will follow it to something special, something bigger. You'll end up with a first painting. It might not be much, but it'll be a start, and you'll be rewarded by that special feeling inside when you're done with it - the feeling that you've made something, and you made the best you possibly could. What a joy that feeling is! Art is worth doing for that feeling alone.
Most of today I've been struggling with the fear of the blank page. "The Artist's Corner is due and I dunno what to write and I STILL haven't contacted that artist for the interview!" I think. After hours of procrastination, I finally "apply ass to chair" and here we are. Another column hammered out, in the bag. And you know what? I feel pretty good about that. This column is a piece of me, a reflection, and now you've got me.
I know there's something kicking around in your mind, something you've wanted to do or say for years that hasn't quite come to the fold. Can you think about what that thing might be?
Whatever it is, I bet it's something special. Maybe you're doing it already. But it'd be a shame if it never came to fruition. If it just stuck inside the back of your mind, collecting cobwebs like a neglected trunk in somebody's attic. My suggestion is to acquire whatever you need - paper or paint or an instrument - and give it a try. You might surprise yourself. In any case, I'll be here, rooting you on.
We are ending with not one, but two, creative quotes for this week. Both are, again, from the great Pablo Picasso, who said, "I am always doing what I cannot do, in order that I may learn to do it."
And, "The urge to destroy is also a creative urge."