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Lessons from living a passionate life.

May 29, 2020

I am an abstract painter. My inspiration is the energy I feel. It could be within me, within another, or in a panorama. I used to say abstract art is easier because no one could criticize my interpretation as being inaccurate. Whereas if I painted a chair, there could be legitimate debate about the quality of the chair for we have the subject in front of us.

To see the painting from the artist’s perspective requires the focus on feeling, impression, experience. The observer adopting this perspective then sees the world like an artist. Yes, the artist uses their eye to make the lines. They also work with the relationship of the marks and color to transfer what they see to the canvas. The artist sees the world through their own eyes as well as their feeling. The gap in an artist’s skill or mastery of their tools is the obstacle limiting their ability to easily and adequately paint what they “see.“ This process and associated gap is the challenge in the work of an artist.

This is also the process and associated gap in our lives. Each of us have at one time, if not now, held an image of who we wanted to become. As time went by, we uncovered the gaps between what we imagined to what we could execute. The gap at times looks too wide to bridge and we concluded it was hopeless and we abandoned this dream. We moved on and adopted another dream and that too may have fallen to a similar fate. Having done this enough, we may resolve to stop dreaming for we know it will end in disappointment again

Artists have varying success in their pursuit of transferring what they see to the canvas. Some have enough disappointment to quit and move away from this passion for it is too painful to see the current reality. They pursue a life of less passion a “good enough” feeling a void while at the same time knowing they are avoiding the pain. What is lost is the accumulated moments of joy as well as sorrow that come from the exploration.

Most artists describe the experience creating a piece as beginning with a moment of inspiration which morphs into a muddled mess. Did I go too far? Did I overwork the piece? It’s a feeling of frustration for it may look hopeless. Should I discard the canvas at this point it would end this story. Should I however persist, then I may find the piece evolves into something fresh and new and closer to what the I was seeing. The piece emerges.

The message is the journey to having what we imagine become a reality can lead us through some unexpected terrain. We may need to develop some new skills, or be patient, with the process. Tenacity and persistence do not guarantee success and yet they are requirements along with developing new skills to succeeding in something new.

Dare to dream. Pursuit of passion will include love and disappointment in equal measure. The depth for which we are willing to love must be met with our capacity to weather disappointment. Disappointment is part of the journey and not necessarily a sign to stop pursuing your passion. It may be a signal of more work on your skills or commitment to the process is needed. Learn to look in your body to make the decision that is right for you. A passionate life is worth it.