Sometimes we think we know who we are, only to discover we’re not that person at all. What do I mean? Well, I’ve said this before but I began my dreams early. Only I never dreamed of becoming a writer. I honestly think I knew I wanted to be an artist before I could speak. For most of my life, I wanted to be an artist. My hand just naturally doodled. Ideas, pictures would pop into my head and the overwhelming urge to take my synaptic impulses and put them on paper or canvas defined the image of how I saw myself.
I loved the process of taking an idea and gradually taking that mental mural and making it come to life. To bleed color into it. To make my reality everyone else’s reality through a visual medium. From an early age I had been drawn to comic books. I loved the mixture of story and pictures. I wanted nothing more than to be part of that world. So naturally, all I did for the longest time was draw comics. At first I loved crafting stories with the superheroes I had been reading. Over time, I started creating my own heroes, my own stories. It was all I could see myself doing.
As I reached High School, my world broadened. My art teacher introduced me to new concepts. I started growing up, not only as a person but as an artist. Sure, I still read comics and drew them, but I started exploring artists outside comic books. I’d always known who Michelangelo was and still mark him as one of my earliest influences. But, in the fever of self discovery, I found more artists to soak up. Warhol, Ruebens, among others. More than expanding my view of what I loved to do, I started exploring what I could do. I painted. I discovered inside myself a love of wildlife drawing. I did drawings of eagles, tigers, lions. I think I felt moved by the savage majesty of predators. They were so beautiful, yet that beauty masked something deadly and primal. Yeah, but I still drew comics.
College introduced me to something I had gotten only an inkling of in High School. There were other people who thought like I did. My friends, because I can think of them no other way, and I exchanged ideas, techniques, and our own views on art and how to create it. I had literally found heaven on earth. I also found new masters to blow my mind. Goya to this day moves me in a way I only thought Michelangelo could. Michelangelo presented the ideal of what humanity could be. Goya presented humanity as it was, raw and flawed. The sight of both artists’ body of work never stops bringing tears to my eyes because they both represent the different ends of the promise of humanity.
Graduation brought a new reality crashing down on me. As much as I loved to create, being an artist does not pay back student loans. It barely gave job satisfaction some days. As the promise of my youth slowly faded behind me, I found myself drawing less and less. Disillusioned, I let painting became a non-thing I used to do. Finally, it was something I just didn’t do at all.
So ended me knowing who I was.
Then, my wife pushed me to write. She had already been a writer and was published. So, I became a writer, and had a new concept of who I was. I wasn’t an artist. I was a writer. I told myself the old adage — you can’t serve two masters. Art? Writing? Well, I certainly didn’t have to drag out a bunch of crap to write, or put it back up. My wife liked that part the best. Yep, I’m a slob. So, art slowly faded and became something I did when pushed to do a commission, or I got bored and doodled to pass the time.
Last year, something unexpected happened. I got inspired. Not to write, but to really paint. At the time, I convinced myself it was just doodles with paint. Something bright and colorful for my coming grandson’s room. That was partly true, but that old obsessive disorder came crashing back. I had to get the image out of my head. So, I did. I couldn’t write, because all I wanted to do was paint. There was that old two masters thing again.
Finished with not one but two paintings for my little big man’s room, I eased back into writing, but the NEED to paint never left me. I knew if I kept ignoring it, the desire would burn me up inside.
But, could I serve two masters? I had to find the balance of the two. I knew as much as I loved writing, I couldn’t live without painting and drawing. Doing without it for the last seven years had been like living with part of me dead inside. So for the last three weeks, I’ve sought to discover how to juggle the two. Crazy, but I think I did. Along with some of my older art work, here’s part of my discovering balance in my creative life. It’s just a work in progress so give me some time to get my groove back.
So, now I’m a functioning split creative personality. The week belongs to writing. The weekend belongs solely to painting. I’m not saying I’m any good, but I’m getting there. The point this blog is trying to get me to make is this. Reality doesn’t define who you are. You don’t even define who you are. Nope, it’s so much more philosophical and downright weird. Hey, I am all about weird, so I’m rolling with it. Your dreams define who you are. When you stop dreaming, that’s when you become nothing more than a clog in the system.
That said, here’s my invitation to you. No, here is my challenge to you.
Dream and become something, anything! Most importantly, let that something be happy.