24 04 2013

Whether your preferred method is drawing, writing, or acting; working with clay, numbers, or food; raising crops, children, or awareness; building cars, homes, or statues–express yourself however you need to.  No one else can do it for you.  You are the only person who can tell the world about you.  Expressing yourself sincerely and from the heart is not a selfish act.  Yes, you will learn about yourself.  But through your genuine expression, we all learn more about ourselves.

Letters to Myself

19 09 2012

I’m a journal-er.  Yes, I’m a writer, so it would make sense that I journal.  But I really journal.  Lots.  And most of that never sees the light of day.  It’s the writing I know I’m not gonna share with anyone else, and therefore, I can be free to write anything.  Anything.  (Sidenote:  When I die, please burn all of my journals.  Thanks.)  Sometimes, I look back at my journals.  This can be either embarrassing, boring, engaging, or confusing.  Sometimes, it’s like reading a letter from my past to my present.  Sometimes, I wish I could write back.

Fourteen years ago this month, I wrote this:

I feel like I have so many ideas—so much energy—so many feelings—so much creativity—so many neat experiences—but am not yet wise or mature enough or ready to be able to truly express all of this.   Or is it that I’m not comfortable with it?  Is that it?  Or is it that I can express them but don’t know what to do with them after that (in a way I could support myself)?

Dear Past Self,

Please know that you will find ways to express all of those feelings and experiences (and more) over the coming years.  You will even be able to satisfy your severest critic–yourself.  And while we’re on the subject, be kinder to yourself.  You’re doing a good job;  you’ll have a good future.


Your Future Self

the best thing ever for an artist

5 09 2012

As an artist, I make art.  Then, people look at my art….or in my case, watch my art or read my art.  Then, sometimes they will say things about my art.  Artists like it when people say things about their art.  It means that the art moved them enough to make them want to say something.  Sometimes, people will even say things about the art to the artist.  This is typically pretty exciting for the artist.  There are times that people will say nice things about the art.  The artist loves this.  There are other times when people say mean things about the art.  Some artists hate this.  Some artists love this, because their art still moved someone to feel something.  Then there are times when people tell the artist that the art was exactly how they felt and that they are amazed that the artist pulled out the art that was hidden in the hearts and the minds of the people looking at the art and put it up for everyone to see.  It’s a special thing when people tell the artist that they see themselves in the art.  And as an artist, hearing that is always my favorite.


8 05 2012

If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?

– Dogen Zenji

Making Art. Because.

6 02 2012

A true artist creates art because s/he has to.  Simple as that.  Whether they are able to sell their work for profit matters little in the definition as to whether they are a true artist.

When making art, we cannot judge ourselves.  The creative force is personal expression.  It is what it is.  When done with pure sincerity, it is what it wants to be–what it needs to be.  I’m not saying that critique never needs to happen.  If the art is being made for public consumption, than it is necessary to edit, refine, and improve the piece.  But during the moment of inspiration, and the creation that follows it, assessment and critique only hinder the initial process.  Art cannot come with judgment, just as vulnerability cannot come with force.  Art can come out of  judgment, however, in the way that freedom must always come from bondage.  Art, just as freedom, comes as a rebellion, as a defiance against the accepted.  It bursts out naturally, out of necessity.  There are no rules.  No walls.  It just appears.  It always does.

Inspiration cannot be planned or predicted.  It emerges in the middle of the night urging you to find your paper and pastels.  It reveals itself upon waking, when you illegibly scratch down the lyrics to a new song.  The perfect punchline becomes evident while stuck in traffic.  The poem surfaces while taking a shower.

Sometimes, after we have defined ourselves as “artists,” we expect the creativity.  We set aside time for it.  When it doesn’t happen, we disparage ourselves.  At times, we may try to create something backwards–starting with what we think would sell to the public (perhaps even trying to work back to what needs to be said).  Of course this doesn’t end well.  Even if the public likes it, we are left unfulfilled and dissatisfied with the art and ourselves.

A true artist is a steward of her/his art.  The chaperone that escorts the art from inspiration to reality.

Asking why artists create what they create is like asking a child, “Why do you play?”  Even when art touches us and delights us, there are still those who ask, “Why?”  The answer is, of course, “Because.”

When are you performing next?

7 07 2011

I’ve gotten this question a lot lately.

Typically, if I go for a long time without performing, I get all antsy.  It can happen in as few as 15 performance-less days in a row.  But oddly and interestingly, I haven’t gotten too awfully antsy lately.  This is definitely because a lot of my energy has been taken up with moving/unpacking/nesting.  Also, summer is happening.  And after surviving my fourth (I know!  Can ya believe it?!) Chicago winter, spending the summer near the lake instead of inside a dark theater has been kinda nice.

The last time I went for this long without performing was when I first moved to Chicago.  Again, I was moving/unpacking/nesting.  That combined with being in a new city and not knowing anyone fostered an almost two-month period of no stage-time.  I did kinda get a little crazy toward the end there, as I recall.  But one of the upsides was that I ended up focusing all that creative energy into painting, drawing, and cooking fancy, inventive dishes.

This time around, I’ve been writing more.

So, I guess the answer to the question is:  Probably not until the fall (unless I go crazy before then and manage to sneak in some solo work that’s been rollin’ around in my noggin).  Until then, I’ll be thankfully teaching lots and lots, sharin’ some of my writings on this site, and maybe making some pies.

A decade ago, something like this would have made me very nervous.  I defined myself by what I did, rather than who I was.  So, if I wasn’t doing what I did, well, then who was I?  I’m not sure if I have the clearest idea of who I am.  But it’s certainly clearer than it was before.  It’s a nice feeling, for sure.

Comfortable and satisfying.