(Editor's Note: For those who missed this meeting, and for those who didn't, we include here the opening statement from Garry Pound. You will find it delightful, entertaining, and encouraging to anyone who attempts an artistic endeavor.)
I want to be famous
So I can be humble
About being famous.
What good is my humility
When I am stuck
In this Obscurity?
A Great Artist?
Recently, I had the opportunity to meet an old childhood friend for breakfast. We had not seen each other for quite a while. During our reminiscences, I made the observation, and lamented the fact, that I would never be a “Great Artist.” My childhood had been far too pleasant to incubate the kind of soul-searching, suffering, even moroseness necessary for the acquisition of greatness. I blamed my family, my community and my friend for this stifling state of childhood bliss.
I figured that perhaps in college I could nurture a creative sense of misery. For all of my navel-gazing introspection, however, I found that God wanted me to be happy. The burden of a lovely childhood dogged me, and despite myself, I found that college suited me. I went on to reluctantly enjoy ten years of higher education.
At this point in my life, I came up with a foolproof career strategy. I would move back to my hometown, live in obscurity and languish in a state of resentful poverty. I had the talent, I just needed the requisite travails to achieve that elusive “Greatness.” My plans, however, were once more thwarted. Who could have guessed that I would return to a community that would welcome me back, invest in my success, gift me with a beautiful wife and handsome children, and allow me all the time I need to pursue my passions. I rage against the suppressing forces of happiness and good fortune.
As I grow older, and hopefully wiser, I have geared back on my life objectives. While still obnoxiously confident in my abilities, I strive to be a “Real” artist rather than a “great’ one. I have decided that authenticity, rather than recognition, will be my propelling motive. I will embrace the geography of my own experience, with work that is distinct and credible. Thoreau put it this way:
Keep up with,
Circle round and round your life,
As a dog does his master’s chair.
Do what you love.
Know your own bone;
Gnaw at it,
And gnaw it still.
So, above all, we must simply press on. Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common that unsuccessful people with talent. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. Being creative is not a sometime sort of thing. Being creative is an everyday thing, a job with its own routines. That is why artists like to establish a routine for themselves, the most productive ones get started early in the morning when the phones aren’t ringing, and their minds are rested, and not yet polluted by the hubbub of a plugged in world. As artists, we might set goals for ourselves, but the real secret is that we do this every day. We do not waver. After a while it becomes a habit. Routine is as much a part of the creative process as the lightning bolt of inspiration (probably more). And it is available to all of us. If creativity is a habit, then the best creativity is the result of good work habits. They are the nuts and bolts of productivity.
This is what we all want, I think—to be productive, authentic, and sincere. Fame may elude us, but fame is too often a result of marketing, with little reflection on the worth or quality of the work at hand. As Stephen Kind said, in a critique of art and popular culture, “The strong survive, while the worthy quite often do not.”
Having lauded the benefits of persistence and determination and routine, I would hasten to suggest that we also guard against the effects of boredom or the staleness of habit. God spare us from complacence and our own comfortable conclusions. We certainly don’t need suffering or despair to validate our creative process. What we do need, however, is adventure. Keep ahead of the curve. Get out and see the world. It won’t kill us to notch it up a tad. Don’t jump off a cliff just because everyone else does. But have fun. Be yourself.
Grant us the courage to seek adventure, to learn and grow in the decades to come. As Garrison Keillor wrote, “Life presents us with certain gifts. The fog lifts, the coast is clear, time to be adventuresome. Some odd experience is available now that might not be later. Put on your walking shoes, stick a hundred dollars in your pocket, bring an umbrella and a sketch book….Adventure—it saves us from smugness, the vanity of the modest….A little glorious stupidity can be a tonic.”
Our March 2013 Meeting:
Note: The CAG offered a workshop in October, 2013, taught by Iain Stewart.
Our February 2013 meeting:
Our January, 2013 Meeting:
Juanita Barrow and Amy Patterson
a demonstration of simple, inexpensive pewter casting techniques!
January 31, 2013
Bronze Pendant with Stone
Bronze Pendant with Stone
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