*an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on
You know. Don, I was reading a book on the life of Van Gogh today. and I had to pause and think of that wonderful and persistent force – the creative urge. The creative urge was in this man who found himself so at odds with the world he lived in, and in spite of all the adversity, frustrations, rejections, and so forth – beautiful and living art came forth abundantly… If only he could be here today. Truth is indestructible. It seems history shows (and it’s the same way today) that the innovator is more often than not met with some degree of condemnation; usually according to the degree of his departure from the prevailing modes of expression or what have you. Change is always so hard to accept. We also see that these innovators always seek to revitalize, extend and reconstruct the status quo in their given fields, wherever it is needed. Quite often they are the rejects, outcasts, sub-citizens, etc. of the very societies to which they bring so much sustenance. Often they are people who endure great personal tragedy in their lives. Whatever the case, whether accepted or rejected, rich or poor, they are forever guided by that great and eternal constant – the creative urge. Let us cherish it and give all praise to God.
John Coltrane in Coltrane on Coltrane: The John Coltrane Interviews
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Q: All artists go through periods when they wonder what it’s all for. What do you do during times like that?
A: Fortunately, that doesn’t happen very often. I love and enjoy all the varied facets involved in being an artist, even (usually) the business aspects, which are just another puzzle to be solved. I have vivid memories of being stuck in a job that I hated, one I couldn’t immediately leave because I was an officer in the US Navy. Life is so much better as a visual artist!
I appreciate the freedom that comes with being a self-employed artist. The words of Louise Bourgeois often come to mind: “It is a PRIVILEGE to be an artist.”
Still, with very valid reasons, no one ever said that an artist’s life is easy. It is difficult at every phase.
Books offer sustenance, especially ones written by artists who have endured all sorts of terrible hardships beyond anything artists today are likely to experience. I just pick up a favorite book. My Wednesday blog posts, “Pearls from artists,” give some idea of the sorts of inspiration I find. I read the wise words of a fellow artist, then I get back to work. As I quickly become intrigued with the problems at hand in a painting, all doubt usually dissolves.
I try to remember: Artists are extremely fortunate to be doing what we love and what we are meant to do with our short time on earth. What more could a person ask?
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
And, just as the analysis of a film by a psychoanalyst can tell us about some implications and some sources of a labour that is all the less tightly under our control since the material problems we encounter during it make us insensible to tiredness and leave our unconscious quite free, so the interpretation of one of our works by the mind of an outsider can show it to us from a new, and revealing perspective.
How disturbed we should be, were there some machine that would allow us to follow the thousand brains in a cinema! No doubt, we should stop writing. We should be wrong to do so, but it would be a hard lesson. What Jules de Noailles said (recounted by Liszt) is true: ‘You will see one day that it is hard to speak about anything to anyone.’ Yet it is equally true that each person takes in or rejects the sustenance that we offer, and that the people who absorb it, do so in their own way; and this it is that determines the progress of a work through the centuries, because if a work were to send back only a perfect echo, the result would be a kind of pleonasm, an inert exchange, a dead perfection.
Andre Bernard and Claude Gauteur, editors, Jean Cocteau: The Art of Cinema
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