Today was relatively low-key. I sent some emails, worked on things that involve words like “file” and “document”, paid a bill, messed around with my bank account, and put away some laundry. A casual observer may be worried: you guys may think I am losing my edge. But, fear not, grasshoppers.
Tonight I painted a picture. This picture, as a matter of fact. It started in my head as a much more elaborate concept, but by the time I finished, it looked like this. I realized there wasn’t much more I could do for it after about 27 mistakes, and decided it was finished.
Disappointed, I thought to myself, “A kid could have painted that”, and fumed about it for a minute or two before I realized: maybe that comparison isn’t such a bad thing. After looking at it-and pondering on love as the subject matter-I understood: “That probably is how a kid would see love: nice and bright, plain and simple”.
You’re probably wondering: when did you start painting?
Patti Smith- the Godmother of Punk Music- in all of her dissonant glory, can be said to be [at least partially] responsible for my latest creative resurgence. I read her memoir Just Kids recently. And aside from wanting to weep, wail with solemnity and purpose into a microphone, and travel to France on a whim, I also found myself wanting to make more art.
Not just art I was accustomed to, either. That’s why I have, in the past couple of weeks, written not one, but two songs, scribbled out several poems, and completed a painting. I couldn’t explain it, until I realized Patti’s approach to art had helped serve as an impetus.
I realized a lot of things from reading her story. Here are a few of them:
No one is going to tell me I am an artist. I have to tell them.
There is no reason why I have to stay in one realm of art. It’s not like being an athlete, where most people that play football aren’t great at baseball. An artist can own any art form if he or she is confident enough to do it.
There is no reason why I can’t get my friends involved. Just Kids, more than being Patti’s autobiography, is a biography of her friendship with the late Robert Mapplethorpe. The interplay of their lives and how it affected their art is something to behold.
Loving the creative in others brings it out. The reason why Patti, Robert, and the friends in their community were so prolific with their poetry, photography, drawing, painting, acting, modeling, and playwriting [I think I got all of them], is because they were a group that encouraged and bolstered one another. They never gave up on each other. So each individual, in turn, never gave up.
If you set our lives side-by-side for comparison, Patti and I don’t have that much in common. And our style of art differs considerably [although if I flatter myself, I sometimes imagine similarities in our prose]. I don’t pretend to have had some immediate personal connection with her as an artist. However, I did feel completely connected to her as someone sharing a very human set of experiences in a beautiful and empathetic way.
And with that, she woke me up. I started to think about where I am and who I’m with, and what I have to work with. And I saw that I am surrounded by creative, fascinating, and inspiring people. And I realized that-although there are plenty of situations I have to cope with that are beyond my control and influence, the only one truly limiting my expression of my own creativity is myself. And I got over that quick when I realized anyone can find a way to put paint on a canvas.
So. I guess what I mean to say is: Gracías, Madrina.