I cannot believe my last blog entry was in January of this year! I have been a busy little bee! I am not going to list all of my activities for this period but I will say that I have gone to the edge of giving up, quitting art again... and back. Back to what? Not sure, a head strong determination - maybe. Something like that.
I have figured out a few things. I am not the person I was when I quit art the last time - that 12 year period from around 1992 to 2004. I am not counting the tole painting, decorative art, faux finishing or craft stuff I did during that period as art. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn't - don't know, don't care, not countin' it.
I was driving down the road with the radio on when I heard someone say something on the radio and this thing just sort of smacked me. Don't know who it was or even what they said exactly but a light went on and I discovered a fundamental conflict in my head- which may be the driving force behind my returning to my blog. The conflict to which I refer is who am I painting for and why?
[While I am at it - let me insert a couple of reminders to myself, you can just ignore this part :
"see what I have to say"
"don't talk - not my job"
"falling from grace vs falling from intelligence"]
Ok - back to the question at hand - the who am I painting for and why conflict?
Painting for myself vs painting to sell
Painting for myself vs painting for God
my "voice" vs "His voice" vs some other voice
painting to sell for money/income vs painting to sell for ego/pride/glory
I haven't figured it out yet but it has to do with these issues and God. As a believer - follower of Jesus - Gods child - heavens ambassador on earth - a part of His body on earth... what the heck am I thinking? what the heck am I doing?
The fundamental conflict that I am referring to is the self vs others issue wrapped up in being a Christian. THe world says "self", the Bible says "others." So for example if I am supposed to be Gods hands on earth - then I should be allowing the Holy Spirit to paint through me and who does HE paint for? Certainly not for self - and yet there is no separating from self. (Separating from self is mental illness isn't it? and I am pretty sure that is not where I want to go ) - and "He came that our joy may be complete" so self is not entirely out of the picture. So it becomes a "we" thing. So what do "we" paint and who do "we" paint for. If one of my assignments and tasks on earth is to be an artist - why? I don't believe that God is pleased with my paintings...He would be pleased with my obedience to the talents and gifts that He has put in me. He is pleased in the doing. So if I am here to serve others, then I paint for others. If I am to put others first - then what others want is preeminent over what I want. I don't think this is an either/or situation - it's not a zero sum game. I think this is a both/and issue. I have been making it zero-sum in my head. Me or them. And I haven't really liked either one, me or them.
It seems to me that "painting to please others" is such an offensive and politically incorrect thing to do and say. It just sounds horrible and abrasive and repugnant. Ewww. However it seems to be totally acceptable and even necessary for commercial work, but not for the fine artist, which is what I am striving to be. I suspect that I have tried to build a wall dividing the two aspects, (self/others) and shooting for painting for myself first, just like I think I am supposed to be doing according to ...who? "Everyone" -(how angry I used to get at the kids when they would use the "everyone" excuse for wanting or doing something). Well who the heck is that "everyone" that rears it's ugly head and makes me into a dumb blind follower. They are the "real artists" ... oh brother.
How did I ever let things get here???
I am scrambling all over the place looking at others peoples art trying to figure out what and how and why I want to paint, and who I want to paint like and have come to the conclusion it is mostly avoidance behavior! However I do enjoy looking at and appreciating other peoples art and what they are doing. But I need to paint like me - and I don't even know what that is yet - maybe it will be ugly maybe it will be cool - who knows? I have to get ON that road before I can find out what is down it.
I am avoiding myself. I am avoiding God's call - yes His call. Really. As small and insignificant as it may be - it is His call for me. Oh, I want to to be so much more important and significant than just being a lowly artist. Really, I'd much rather be a missionary or preacher or speaker reaching thousands and millions with encouragement and joy and introducing them to Jesus and His acceptance and love. Yep - I'd much rather be a Billy Graham or Joyce Meyer. But alas I am not and never will be - but maybe, just maybe in my life I can paint something that will touch a few people and bring them joy or something good.
I should be painting however it comes out of me! I just need to be who I am (DUH!) with God's help. DUH -DUH -DUH!!!!! I have known this all along - I think I have just been running from it - because I am afraid. ARGH - I have been letting FEAR run my life - and turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to it all along. A demonic evil circle - a catch 22 - I am afraid of the fear that I am afraid of which I fear that I am afraid of --- and on and on it goes.
Recently I read a quote that goes something like "Before you stop to help someone stuck in the mud, first check to make sure they are not wallowing in it." Good advice I'd say. I have been wallowing- wallowing- wallowing.
OK - I think I am done now.
So the answer is : I am painting for myself AND others, because that is what God has given me to do, and because it brings me more joy than not, and I feel like it pleases God when I paint and draw -( even though it doesn't always please me). Making art IS my service to others - and I can't serve others by ONLY trying to please me - I can be totally unpleasable (is that a word?) - so I might as well paint for others BUT not excluding myself. Not "either/or" but "both/and."
one final DUH!