This week has been very artistically accomplished for me – I was able to get quite a few new pieces finished that are scheduled to hang in a great little local-food cafe in Media, PA this weekend, and I’ve felt very inspired and at peace with my “inner artist” – a nice change from the angsty, hot mess she tends to be at times. While browsing other art blogs to see what was going on in the community (doing my best to avoid being the reclusive artist that I can be!), I came across a video of Neil Gaiman’s 2012 address of the graduates of The University of the Arts in Philadelphia. You can view the entire speech here, and I highly recommend that you do.
One of the quotes from his speech that stuck with me was, “Things will probably work out, and time will probably take the sting away, and the only thing that really matters is that you do what only you can do; make good art.”
These simple lines are really at the essence of what being an artist is – we have creation in our blood. It is a process that has been passed down to us from our earliest of ancestors. The art of making, so to speak, is inherent in all of us, and it’s no coincidence that it’s often the things that helps to get us through the dark times and the thing that we turn to when nothing else seems to be working. Through all of the circumstances in which we find ourselves – the ending of relationships, the beginning of new ones, the deaths of loved ones, and all the impossibilities we can be faced with – make good art.
In many ways, it’s easier to visualize putting this sentiment into action with the big things. In the past, I’ve always tuned to art when I couldn’t handle the things going on around me, but this week, not too long after hearing Mr. Gaiman’s speech, I had the chance to apply his words to a much less serious event, and perhaps learned that it’s just as important to use all the things around me to ‘make good art’ when the circumstances are just kind of annoying and not totally devastating.
Earlier this week, my fiance reminded me to make sure that I lock the doors before I leave the house. Since we live in the middle of no where and I’ve always figured that if someone really wanted to get in, the would, regardless of whether I’d locked the front door or not, I usually don’t even think twice about it before I go out. But, since he asked, and since he just bought me a beautiful new iMac for my birthday that he swore locked doors would help protect, I locked the door before going out to run a few errands the other day.
I didn’t realize until I got back that, while I remembered to lock the doors, I failed to bring my usually unneeded house keys with me when I left. I could picture them sitting right on my desk, next to the fancy new computer, where I had put them so that I would remember where they were. Now, I was locked out of my house in the middle of the afternoon, hours before Chris would get home and be able to let me in – and, remember, in the middle of nowhere. I sighed in frustration. I reminded myself how stupid I was a handful of times. I sat down on the steps and tried to figure out what to do.
There was no way of getting into the house, and there was no way of getting a hold of Chris, short of calling the school where he teaches, but this didn’t seem like the right sort of emergency for all that. Instead, I resolved to using the time to be creative – even if I couldn’t get to my studio – and I went on an unplanned Artist’s Date.
One of the nearby towns hosted a little outdoor cafe that Chris and I had often driven by. I always remarked to him that I wanted to try it and never had, so I made that my first destination. While there, I spent some time sitting outside in the gorgeous weather and sketching the people and things around me – I also had a killer veggie burger with mushrooms and a great salad. I will definitely be going back!
Across the street, I noticed a little antique shop called “The Den of Antiquity” and decided to spend some time wandering amongst their wares. The shop owners were absolutely friendly and they had a lot of really interesting things. I was able to take some great photographs and loved looking at the colors and textures things – particularly print – had as they aged. Hopefully I can use some of those effects in my paintings.
All-in-all it was a great day – and locking myself out of my house ended up being quite the relaxing and inspiring experience!
Here are some of the photos I was able to take on this Artist’s Date: