Friday, June 22, 2007

Introduction: So You Want To Be An Artist

"But I can't even draw a straight line, my stickmen don't even look like stickmen."

This sad refrain is spoken every day. I have heard it hundreds of times over the years, usually coming from people who have a deep love and appreciation for the arts, who feel like they are on the the outside looking in. They love the view and secretly long to be a part of it.

So you want to be an artist.

Well, good news. You already are!

It's true. Anyone who is even marginally aware of the world around them has the potential to bring out the wonder of their own experience.

And you can do it right now. How do I know this? Because people are doing it every day without even realizing it. So your daydreaming sketch while you were talking on the phone doesn't look like a Michelangelo. Well, neither does a Jackson Pollock paint-drip painting. In fact, it looks exactly like it sounds.

Here's a secret: most artists can't draw a straight line, and the best they can do to convey the human form is scratch out a lopsided little stickman. When faced with that kind of "technical difficulty" they find different ways to express their ideas.

They discover new techniques to prod something out of nothing, which is all art is anyway.

We are, in small ways, small gods all of us, and the imperative of a god is to create. The imperative of a human being is to communicate, to share. Writing your letters on paper is a generative act. Where once there was only a blank page, now there are words that you created, meanings that you formed. We are inherently creative from the day we are born and we manifest that creativity in a billion different ways. Through living day to day, we build the story of our lives. What we see, feel, taste, touch, hear...these all combine to make an experience of life that is fundamentally unique from any other person who ever lived. Because we are all people, there are many things we share and can relate to.

It's in the slight differences, these combinations of events that separate us, that our individual vision is formed. It is the relatable difference that makes us interested in art, and it is why we all have something to tell one another.

And today is a good day to start using your voice. Some people sing, some dance. Some sculpt, or engineer, or perform surgery. An accountant creates order with numbers, whereas some theoretical scientists delve into the chaos, certain that the order is already pre-existing, it just has to be found. There is an elegance, an art, in everything we do as a human family. What seems to break these actions from "just living" to "art" is a long debate. Let me simply say that it all begins with awareness, with intention.

My intention is to share with you some of the ideas, exercises, and techniques I use in my work. The result is you will not only get a glimpse into how one artist works (something I've found to be helpful in my own art) but it will spark in you a desire to go further, to explore, to find your own way in this world of creativity. In short, you will be inspired. Not by my simple chapters, but by the creative force that will awake in you as you nurture and give attention to it.

So you want to be an artist.

Well, good news! You already are.


Anonymous said...

I've read a LOT of books on themes of creativity and art, and not one has expressed the concept of being an artist as adeptly as you have. Bravo! I am looking forward to reading more of your excerpts. Keep the momentum...


Anonymous said...

Thanks Aaron! Its always nice to recieve random pep talks. Even for us hard done by lawyers... ;-)

Aaron Paquette said...

c_r, thank you! I'm trying to pare it right down to the essentials. I've also read a lot of art books that mire me in pages and pages of detail that make it difficult to get to the point.

I'm working hard to get rid of what doesn't matter, trust the reader, and lay out simply and as straightforward as possible.


Danika, thanks! Lawyers make the world go 'round, you know! Also, I'm about halfway through your UN report. It's very interesting and I have to often pause to think about what I've just read. It sounds like the conference was an amazing experience.