Life Without The Arts

“Persona” by Q. Rumbley

I have a little confession, something I’m not particularly open about but felt like mentioning, rather briefly, in a short post. At the age of 43, I can honestly say that I would not have made it this far in life without art and music. In some of my darkest and lonely moments it has been music that pulled me through. And in all the times when I’ve felt that there isn’t anything in life to live for or look forward to, I could at least turn towards drawing and feel some semblance of happiness, personal satisfaction. The Arts does something to the soul that neither medicine, science or technology has been able to achieve. It’s a mystery to me but I am most grateful for it and thankful to be one of the many people in the world who have found healing and expression through it. Which is why I find it deeply disheartening that when it comes to education and budget cuts, the first thing to go are the Arts. If it has been the only thing that has gotten me through some rough times, then I’m sure it has gotten many others through difficulties in their lives. So when a society starts to devalue something that is soul saving do we really understand what we are doing to ourselves in the long run? Now I really don’t want to get into a long treatise on the value that the Arts brings to society but rather I just want you to sit there, just for a moment and try to imagine with me a world without the Arts. Imagine a world with no paintings, drawings, music, dancing, theatre, design, architecture, decorative elements or fashion. Imagine a world where everything is manufactured and mass produced. Cookie cutter homes, manicured lawns, sterile clean walls, clothing that’s only functional, no style, no pazazz…just imagine a world with no human touch to it.

How do you think that world would be? Do you think that such a world is even possible? If so, are we moving in that direction?

Morning Snow

Midwest morning snow.

I woke to a winter wonderland this morning. I usually get home sick around this time despite being over 20 years removed from where I was raised. Not sure if I can still call myself an Alaskan but whenever the snow begins to fall I’m reminded of the land and mountains that nurtured my spirit when I was a child. My mother’s yearly “care packages” of moose, smoked salmon, king crab and Fireweed honey often beats back the winter blues, so I’m watching and waiting patiently for the mailman to bring me my box of treats packed with hugs and kisses, from the land of the Midnight Sun, that me and my other half devour like two little kids in a donut shop. It’s a yearly delight that I treasure as Nature draws another year to its end with the sleep of cold winds and blankets of snow before allowing another to spring into it’s beginning. 

Dreaming Big?

Currently I’m reading “The One Thing” by Gary Keller. At the moment I’m on chapter 10 and I have to say that so far Kellar makes a lot of good valid points that truly resonate with me. I won’t go into them because that isn’t what I want to focus on in this post, just know that the fact that I’ve actually gotten past chapter three in book on business inspiration is a good sign that there’s some useful information in between the front and back covers. What I do want to talk about is something that I keep coming across when I read inspirational, motivational self help books as well as when listening to speakers on self improvement, entrepreneurship and business. And that’s the idea of dreaming big. 

In this information age I’m sure you’ve heard the maxim “Dream Big”. You may have seen quotes warning not to share your big dreams with small minded people or if your dreams don’t scare you they’re not big enough. I understand the point that people are trying to get at when they make such statements which is don’t be afraid to go out and do great things. Don’t limit yourself because there’s no telling what you can achieve. And I also understand that all of this is suppose to help stem the tide of the onslaught of naysayers you may encounter along the way if you set out to do something great. I’m all for that kind of encouragement but I’m also noticing a side effect to it all and that’s the underlying shame that may occur if you’re made to feel that your dream isn’t big enough.

When it comes to all this inspirational and motivational encouragement oftentimes the examples used are gleaned from the lives of those considered big dreamers such as Oprah, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Warren Buffett, J.K. Rowling or that dude who built Wal-Mart whose name seems to escape me at the moment. These are examples of people who have reached a level of fame and financial success in many cases from very humble beginnings that are noteworthy for inspiration. But I often worry that there are many out there who look at such individuals, see what they have accomplished and feel that if they aren’t trying to conquer the world, build schools in Africa, create a platform to bring holographic entertainment to every living room in America or simply striving to be a millionaire/billionaire are being left to feel that their dreams aren’t worthy goals. Where are the books and articles extolling examples of what I like to call “Main Street Dreams”; the dreams of people who want to open up a local barber shop, a dance studio or organics store? Or the dream of someone who just wants to run her own nail business out of her home or the independent artist who wants to make a good living for his art. Where are the examples of people who aren’t necessarily striving to be millionaires but who dream of just being financially stable and independent on their own terms doing something they love? It may not bring in millions or even change the world but it allows them to live comfortably and gives them pride in being self sufficient?  

I admit, maybe I’m reading the wrong books. Maybe there are people out there talking about and encouraging exactly what I’m saying and I just haven’t come across them yet. For now though, I just bristle when I hear or read the words “Dream Big” and then look at the media and see how success is often shaped by the idea of having expensive cars, big houses, jets, yachts, a millionaire or billionaire status and smoozing with those who exemplify that lifestyle. This isn’t to say that anything is wrong with dreaming big or wanting “big” things, it’s just that this one sided idea of success often gives the impression that anything less than this isn’t good enough. As a side note, one of the underlying reasons for why I do small art isn’t just because I enjoy it, it’s also because I don’t believe that everything has to “big” to be worthwhile, beautiful and/or valuable. A part of my mission as an artist is to help bring to light that there can be beauty in small things such as small works of art. With that said all of this brings to mind a video I watched on YouTube where Steve Harvey made some bristling comments about people who aspire to have tiny homes: 

“You need to get a bigger damn dream, that’s what you need to do…This is for people who have given up. This is for people who ain’t got no faith and who ain’t got no dreams…”  

What are some of your thoughts on the idea of “Dreaming Big”? 

Gravity: This Tug of War

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Sitting down to draw is a difficult thing for me. The desire is there but I’m often easily distracted by my thoughts, my daily chores, my doubts, my worries, my daydreams, my quest for inspiration, my need for social interaction and affection, the pressing issues of the world and my feelings of guilt. That last one gets me the most. How dare I try to shut out everyone, the world and all it’s busyness to focus on something I enjoy? I feel guilty for trying to add a sliver of artistic beauty into this life. Who needs beauty and art when people are starving, civil and human rights are being trampled and the love for profit has seeped into every faucet of our existence? I should be doing something more important or at the very least making some kind of political or social statement with my work. Shouldn’t I?

I wonder if other artists wrestle with such things.