I know that I stopped thinking about extreme grief as the sole vehicle for great art when the grief started to take people with it. And I get it. The tortured artist is the artist that gets remembered for all time, particularly if they if they either perish or overcome. But the truth is that so many of us are stuck in the middle. So many of us begin tortured and end tortured, with only brief bursts of light in between, and I’d rather have average art and survival than miracles that come at the cost of someone’s life.Hanif Abdurraqib, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us
Envious of the Italian artists like Leonardo da Vinci and Raphael, the German artist Albrecht Dürer ventured to Italy in 1496 to prove his worth as a painter. He had already gained a reputation for his woodcut prints.
After years of hanging out in Venice and gathering the technique of oil paintings, he created one of his most notable pieces, Feast of the Rosary, In 1506.
“I also silenced all the artists who said I was good at engraving but, as a painter, I did not know how to deal with colors. Now everyone says they have never seen more beautiful colors.”Albrecht Dürer
At first, we develop good taste and copy. With time, we originate.
Dürer is still considered “the greatest of all German artists.”
The time you spend away from your task still qualifies as work. That includes doing the dishes, running errands, and taking care of the kids—whatever responsibilities you think to impede your central occupation contribute to its success.
British novelist Jon McGregor gives a good example of how he manages his writing despite making time for everything from Tweeting to taking care of his children.
“I rarely manage a whole unbroken day at the desk. And it can be frustrating, sometimes. Once or twice a year I manage to get away somewhere and live like a hermit for a week, eating and sleeping next to a desk and talking to no one and getting a lot of work done. Imagine if I could work like that all the time, I think, then. Think how productive I’d be! But if my life was always like that, I suspect I’d have very little to write about.”
Locking yourself away in isolation is a forlorn attempt to escape all that matters. Patterns can backfire, especially when it comes to creativity which thrives on observation and sudden randomness.
There is a time for everything
While productivity can be messy, time away from work is not squandered time. Instead, it is spent accumulating experiences and visualizing how the ideas you’re chewing on will all come to focus when you sit down in and commit to the day ahead.
The discipline of work is just as necessary as the chaotic daily tasks of life. In fact, the best things in life often disrupt it, forcing you to rethink priorities and see how it all connects.
Contrary to popular opinion, busyness is not a badge of honor. Life seeds all the ideas.
Who will curate the curators, influence the influencers, or teach the teachers?
Those who marinate the world with their point of view assume their rightness. But the signaler too must too look back in the mirror and reimagine themselves.
The true expert sees reality at arm’s length, merely touching what they know, always learning from others.
Everything we do is a false start
Fragility becomes a strength in the hunt for gathering strings of ideas. Gazing into space, the clusters of stars flash with an impulse that branches forward from moment to moment.
We do best to gut-check each other, with history whispering in our ear.
A shared stimulation keeps the world more interesting and encourages us to make small bets. We need good collective ideas to resume going upward as a whole.
If at first we emulate, then we originate.
Thankfully, our bad memories serve a grand purpose in helping us forget most of what we learn. But then the urge of discovery restarts, leaving us compelled to relearn our sense of wonder.
Life is not a rote study course.
We’ll all be remembered not for what we copied but whatever we did differently.
The role of any artist is to adopt a
system of experimentation that is open to chance encounter and new ideas.
There is a tendency amongst creators to make things for the purpose of instant gratification.
These pieces and posts may get likes but they are consumed and quickly forgotten like the fast fashion of Forever 21.
We sculpt perception through our own diligent work.
“I reached out for something to attach myself to—and I found nothing. But in reaching out, in the effort to grasp, to attach myself, left high and dry as I was, I nevertheless found something I had not looked for—myself. I found that what I had desired all my life was not to live—if what others are doing is called living—but to express myself. I realized that I had never had the least interest in living, but only in this which I am doing now, something which is parallel to life, of it at the same time, and beyond it. What is true interests me scarcely at all, nor even what is real; only that interests me which I imagine to be, that which I had stifled every day in order to live.”Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn