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Monday, February 23, 2015

Taking the Long View - Artists Looking Beyond the Now

Its interesting how the mind wanders when in the act of creation. You would think that an artist would be single minded to the task, always focused. But I find the opposite often applies.

When I am truly in "The Zone", I go into an autopilot mode. I've done all my thinking about what I am working on prior to beginning the nights work. I know what and how I need to accomplish the task and suddenly my mind is released to think about other things and wander the universe of my mind.

There were two CD's of stories of the mind that was done in the early 90's. Unfortunately the name of them escapes me after so many years. But one was of a man who would sit each day on cliff overlooking the ocean in Maine and his mind would leave his body and he would traverse the universe and go far away from his physical form. That's the nearest description I've ever heard to the almost out of body experience that truly immersing yourself in your art sometimes brings.

Sitting on my desk is a book called The Art of the Long View. I've read it many times and I consider it one of the essential parts of my studio, as important as my paints and supplies.

I think that especially in art, taking a long view of the world is crucial. What I mean by this is that sometimes we can become very myopic as artists, focusing on the brush stroke and the canvas but losing the perspective and meaning of being a creator.

I often say that "art should outlive the artist". I believe this because I believe in taking a "long view" of my work. When I create something, I want it to far outlast who I am. I want it to speak to someone 500 years from now and not just the moment I create it.

When I was first starting out as an artist, I took a very short view of each thing I created. I got frustrated easily when no one would hit the damned "like button" on facebook or say anything about what I'd made. Then I started taking the Long View and with it, I would like to think my work changed. It went from being simply a painting to being a creation. If you don't think there is a difference between these two things, then your not taking a Long View yet.

I'm not saying that an artist has to be an activist. That is a different thing. What I am saying is that if we don't take the time realize that what we do at this moment may and can impact someone years from now, then we are short sighted to the power our art contains. For example, I have a painting in my bathroom (yes my bathroom) of an Indian done in water colors. You can't see his face. He is facing away in the painting. Everytime I see him, I think of many things. I wonder what he's looking at. I wonder what the artist was thinking when she painted him. I think about my mother, who owned the painting before passing it on to me.

This painting has no political statement within it. But I think it is a simple fact that this painting has outlasted its creator who passed many years ago (yes I researched her just to find out more). It still speaks to those who view it, long after its creator has passed.

I ask you then. Does your art speak to the future? Do you take a Long View of your work?

Live in the moment to be sure. That is crucial as it freezes time around us. But live in the future also. Take the Long View and consider what your work says to those who come after you. Whether you are an artist, a writer, a musician or any other creative talent. Is your work fleeting? Or does it move on through time and make you eternal even if your body is not?


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