“All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES.”
–From a Nike ad
“A picture lives by companionship, expanding and quickening in the eyes of the sensitive observer. It dies by the same token. It is therefore risky to send it out into the world. How often it must be impaired by the eyes of the unfeeling and the cruelty of the impotent.”
What do these two quotes have to do with each other?
They each rocked my world when I first encountered them, and I’ve read them over and over again, sometimes posting them on my wall at work. I saw myself in the first quote, and my art in the second. The first applies to most of us at some point in our lives, but only an artist can fully appreciate the second.
When I create a drawing, a part of me goes into it. The subject meant something to me before I even started, or else I wouldn’t have been motivated to spend the many hours necessary to render the details that I fuss over. So I’m often ambivalent about pricing a piece and putting it out there for sale, versus keeping it close to me. Will the new owner take care of it and appreciate it always, as I would a part of myself?
Then there is always the risk that someone may criticize its artistic or technical merit. That brings us back to the first quote. As long as one is creating art only for their own satisfaction, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of it. But as soon as one decides he has something to say with his art that he would like heard, he runs the risk of being shouted down. He needs to be certain enough to be ready to “tell them YES”. It’s difficult, since the creation of art is such a personal, intimate thing. But we have to try–that’s the artistic urge!