What a day (the day before) yesterday. I started out trying to put some time into this watercolor. See? Not. You can hardly see what’s going on here with this horrible picture, but it’s going to be a kind of abstract cityscape of Jerusalem. …one day.
It ended up that I really didn’t do much painting at all because I quit smoking (again). I haven’t attempted it in a while, but I think I’m finally done and I really, really want to succeed this time.
I’m on the patch now, as of 3:00 PM (the day before) yesterday – not that it’s doing me much good, although I’m sure it is in all reality. But I’ve been trying to keep myself busy so I started to clean the office – pretty thoroughly I might add. It was all I could do to keep from tearing my hair out with the cravings. The cravings are intense, but I know they are going to get worse around day three since I’ve been through this before. Most possibly today will suck too. I’ve already stood up from my chair three times and just stared around the room, paced the house, checked the mail twice, and went outside to watch my dog pee. But that was yesterday.
Now it’s been 48 hours since my last cigarette and it’s taken me a while to compose this dang blog post. So I’m back here editing it, trying to make it make some sense in the timeline with when I actually quit. All I know is that yesterday I went nuts with cleaning my house. When Michael came home he had to stop me from a day of manic cleaning. I didn’t even realize that I was doing it, but I was.
The day before I spent a lot of time on the computer, spending money on clothes, and posting on art forums. There was a thread about whether or not an artist is naturally born or whether art can be taught. It’s an interesting subject and lots of people on those forums have lots of opinions, as you can imagine, and it seems to me that the artists that were not born artists have the opinion that art is only taught and that nobody is really a natural born artist.
Well of course they’d have that opinion. Ha!
But that can’t be true. Not entirely. I believe that it’s both nature and nurture – well for some – and for some others it’s nothing but hard work. Because art can be taught. But I also believe you can be a natural born artist too. Though, without the discipline and the hard work and honing of your skills, it really would not matter if you have innate talent or not – you have to work at it.
Some people have that “head start” though. Some people are born with some kind of little gene or spark or whatever you want to call it. The Mozart Syndrome. Something. Granted, even he worked his tail off, and even harder than his peers. He wasn’t just born with talent, he was also a madman at being a very disciplined, obsessed, hard-working composer. But there was something in him to be that way too. To have that one track mind and determination and drive for music. People don’t usually see that as an artistic talent in itself, but it is. That is part of being born into that natural artistic nature – that obsession.
You can also be born with skill, but who cares. It’s nothing unless you use it.
I once had a friend that used to come over – unannounced. He was kind of like a brother, annoying like one too. He’d come over to the studio while I was working and try to peel me away from whatever I was doing to get me to go eat something, go out, meet some people at the pub, or just whatever might take me away from what I was concentrating on. And I never wanted to leave my house. I saw him as a kind of gnat flying around the room, like a work distraction. A gnat I loved very much.
Well one day he came by and I really did not want to budge this time, but I think I actually made plans with him, so I was in a little bit of trouble with him showing up. I was still in my pajamas. Oops. So instead, I set up a little painting section for him in my studio, and probably with some of the worst supplies I owned too.
I gave him some acrylic paints and bowls for mixing, a spray bottle with water in it and brushes, and a couple of 12 x 16 inch canvases, and just told him what to do with the paint – a crash course in less than five minutes. He had never worked with paint in his life, but I couldn’t be bothered to help him “hands-on” because I wanted to get back to what I was doing.
Since we were in the same room, I answered a few of his questions about small things regarding the paint, but he got the hang of it pretty fast and surprisingly kept very quiet over there in his corner of the room, and hours passed. I actually couldn’t believe he could sit so still for that long without cracking a joke or saying something crude, or just being his oddball self.
Just as I was ready to take a break, and it really had been at least three hours, I asked him what he had going on over there and I saw that he had tears in his eyes. Then he turned his canvas around and showed me.
With absolutely no reference, and shitty brushes, he painted a near perfect nude. I was beyond surprised, yes, but he was 100 times more floored at his own self – had never known this was inside of him and it brought him to tears. He wouldn’t stop thanking me and hugging me which was very unlike him. It was also hard to believe, and a little sad and disheartening, as the stepfather he grew up with was a famous painter. I couldn’t believe that his father never encouraged him to paint or even stuck a brush in his hand. It was very hard to imagine that never happening, but as teenager he was closely watching — obviously!
This is an example of someone having innate skill. He of course took many steps to be a painter for a few years after this, but that faded over time and I’m not sure if he is very serious about creating fine art now. We don’t speak much anymore. But the point being is that it takes more than skill to do this whole thing. It takes a boat load of discipline too and that is part of the passionate love of art that I don’t think can be taught. You either have that or you don’t.
And typing all of this is all well and good, but it’s still not distracting me all that much here on day two. I really want a smoke right now, but I am really trying hard not to mess this up.
Pray for me.