Work on the troublesome portrait commission has continued. Although progress has been slow, there has been progress nonetheless, and I am confident that it will be finished by the end of the month.
Work on this piece got me thinking about creativity, and the idea of following your passion a
nd making art your raison d’etre, your reason for being. I have often had people say to me, “It must be so great to have a passion, and to feel that you are doing what you were meant to do in life.”
This conjecture by others regarding my own creative life always makes me a uncomfortable. I do not view my painting activity as my “passion”. I do not live to paint. It’s just something creative that I do. Mind you, it’s something that I get satisfaction from, but it’s not a passion in the sense that I couldn’t live if I didn’t paint, and it’s not something I feel I was “born to do”. It is something I think I am reasonably good at, and others seem to appreciate what I do, but it’s damned hard work, and certainly it pushes a lot of buttons in terms of my confidence level. I’m always making comparisons between my own work and the work of artists I admire. But I do view it as a gift, and one for which I am grateful.
I guess I am more interested in living a creative life, whatever that creativity might involve. For example, I write a bit of poetry. I see my gardening activities as creative. I like repurposing things – for example, making a chandelier out of an old wagon wheel rim, some pulleys, rope and a few sets of mini lights. The way I dress, the way and what I cook, the way I present my home – all of these are creative acts.
I think of creativity as the articulation, in a tangible form, of an idea, the bringing of a concept to some form of completion such that the idea is present and has value for me. And of course if one views creativity in this way, the end result of the creative act says something about who I am. It is connected to my authenticity as a human being.
I think that we are forever involved in an act of self-creation. At least I know I am. Through my years of childhood, living on a farm and creating a love of nature, going to university and learning about the wider world, becoming established in a career, marrying and raising children, leaving the marriage and coming out as a gay man, retiring, moving home, and opening an art gallery – all of these stages of life have demanded creativity, and the articulation of that creativity is me.
I believe we cease to be creative when we no longer have ideas. And that’s pretty much when we die.
And perhaps our greatest creative act is love – not just in the sense of procreation, but in the forming of relationships, communities, cultures, the giving of ourselves to something grander than ourselves.