Serving Two Masters, or Two Muses Bullying Me All the Time




Over the past weeks I’ve rediscovered an old passion. No not Oreos, I never lost that passion thank you very much. As I might have said before, I started life as an artist. When I began writing back in 2005, art slipped away from me. I did the occasional sketch or painting if someone pushed me into it — but steady artwork — just didn’t happen. I filed that under you can’t serve two masters. With a day job, writing and art just can’t happen. I am not the best when it comes to budgeting time if you really want the unvarnished truth.


When I write, I am totally under its sway. I write, or I do nothing. Mostly nothing – with giant rushes of writing over short periods. It’s how my muse works, so who am I to complain? But complain I do — frequently.


The same goes with painting. Call it OCD — my wife does — but I can’t stand an unfinished painting. It’s like looking at a puzzle with half of it still sitting in the box. It just frustrates me to no end.


Now, if I know I’m under a deadline would I even contemplate painting? Simple enough, when I found out I was going to be somebody’s grandpa, I wanted to give him something from the heart. After being in his room for the first time, I wanted him to see magic. Not to say my daughter hasn’t done a wonderful job of making his room homey. She has, but I wanted him to have something different. Which brings us back to magic. I wanted to give him the same sense of wonder I had as a kid, without the introverted paranoid delusions to go along with it of course. I wanted to give him something to say that anything is possible if you dream hard enough.


Growing up, I had that magic in my life. A fervent hope that the world could be different if only I thought it could be. I grew up believing in a planet where apes evolved and talked, a world where a man was worth six million dollars, superheroes all lived in New York and fought crime and well you know, Darth Vader existed and was the coolest man alive. I also believed in Greek Heroes, Sinbad and that if I wished hard enough I might become a musketeer. The point is, I want my grandson to experience that same sense of wonder.


So, I wrote a book. Hey, it’s what I do. At first I started doing sketches to go along with the book. Then it hit me. Why not just paint a couple of the things I saw so vividly in my head for his room? So I did. Or, I am doing. Like any true crazed mad scientist of the artist sort, I threw myself into painting. I’d wake up at 4am so I could squeeze in a couple hours before work. I even painted on my lunch break and after work. All I could see was that half finished puzzle mocking me from the entertainment center. Within a week, I was finished with painting one. Not too shabby for someone who hasn’t seriously painted in ten years.


Best of all it captured the dreams in my head. One of my earliest memories was of flying. Or, imagining I could fly. Arms spread wide, and flapping. A cape made out of an old towel draped around my neck. The rush of air smacking me in the face as I struggled to propel myself into the clouds. None of that actually happened, but I always thought maybe next time. Those are the dreams of youth. The dreams of the improbable that sing to us in our childhood. They’re also the dreams that make young boys and girls into writers someday.


Only thing is, they also put a crimp in actually writing, because my brain had rewritten itself to be a painter. Yep, you guessed it – my authorly muse decided to go on vacation because she had a fill-in occupying my time. Muses get huffy that way.


But, after returning to my first love, I find it hard to lose her again. I had forgotten how much I loved creating worlds of magic in pictures instead of words. So, I am resolved to find a balance between words and images. I still have a second painting to finish for my grandson’s room, and other paintings rolling around in my head. Will I get to them? I hope so. I enjoy returning to the dreams of my youth. I’d like to be a painter again.


Whether I’m good at it is another thing, but that really doesn’t matter, as long as I’m good enough for me. As with my writing, if I can walk away from it and say that I did my best and be satisfied that I have, I am content. Not content enough to not strive to be better, though.


Art, be it painting or writing, is all about expressing something about yourself. If my words paint a picture in a readers’ mind they can’t shake, I’ve succeeded. Same goes with my painting, if someone looks at a painting and just can’t forget it, I’ve more than succeeded. I’ve made a lasting impression. Now, that I realize I can do that with the two halves of my brain, I can say I feel complete in a way I haven’t in years.


That in no way admits to me being sane. With all the voices in my head, I can safely say that will never happen, but where’s the fun in being sane. Crazy is more than a state of mind, it’s the world I call home.


And, I invite you to step into that world on occasion. Just don’t plan to stay too long. I don’t have enough room for lingering house guests. My Smurf house is a one bedroom.


On that, I wish you an overactive imagination and the drive to make your dreams come true.