Music Well – Dosia McKay, Composer, Painter, Writer

Reflections on Art and Life

Are You a True Artist?

Dosia McKayI see these inspirational articles floating all around me, forcing me to examine my artistic direction and stripping my soul to bare bone. Are you a true artist? – they ask. Do you have the right kind of motivation to practice your art? Do you have the right kind of inspiration? Do you want to succeed as an artist? What kind of success is the right kind? Do you practice your art the right way, with the right tools, during the most optimal hours of the day?

Heck, no, I don’t. I know I am in deep trouble because my answers to all these questions are very un-blog-able.

I don’t have the right kind of motivation. I wish I could create mostly from the purity of my own aesthetic pleasure and for the selfless edification of the Universe, but I feel the need to be noticed for my art, to be admired for it, and to compete with others and with my own five-year-old self.

I often lack in the inspiration department, and, when I do find it, it is usually at an inopportune time, in unglamorous, unpoetic circumstances.

I am not a true artist. I am sorry.

I was once told that If I were a true artist, I would drop everything and just practice my art, right then and there, that true artists work in musty basements and hot attics, half awake and half starved, at the service of a capricious, possessive, and reckless muse.

Woe is me for I fail once again, because I am not able to create unless I have flossed my teeth, cleared my desk, and ticked off the spreadsheet containing my daily obligations.

Oh, Capricious and Reckless Muse, speak Thou in bullet points to a mere mortal so that I may hear Thee!

And what about the optimal hours of the day? Morning people always have the moral advantage, but night owls are more whimsical and free-spirited. I am odd for being neither and for working late mornings and early afternoons. This feels almost like banking hours, neither puritan nor avant garde, just middle-class unimaginative. I shop for groceries before dinner, and yes, unlike true artists, I do get hungry.

I used to have a friend who preferred to work on his art in a noisy corridor. He was constantly interrupted. Every time I saw him there, he was socializing and laughing with others. He did eventually do some work, I have no idea when or how. But I don’t think he was a true artist, do you?

Let’s get to the bottom of this. You are either a true artist or you are not. You pass the litmus test or you fail it. You know who you are, and you know that you don’t hold your pencil like so and so in the stock photograph, and you don’t live in the right town, and you haven’t examined those statistics, so you see, you are NOT, and that’s that. Click here to order my book to uncover your true creative self.

All these questions asked by well-meaning psychologists, sociologists, modern philosophisers, trendy skinny-jeans TED speakers, and unqualified content creators pushing their blogs laced with product placement, are enough to cause me the second wave of anxiety. Second wave, because the first wave sweeps over me incessantly every time I sit down to work, when I habitually question the meaning of my existence, my place in my adopted country, and the validity and importance of everything and anything I have ever created and had the audacity to call art. Apparently it’s not enough that I fight these internal demons daily and feel victorious when I merely doodle for half an hour on a scrap of paper. Now I must also examine my true motives for doing so and be able to articulate and defend my purpose in it.

I envy true artists. How I wish I could be suddenly swept away by the embrace of the Muse and be shown the hidden wonders of the unseen artistic reality. She would crown me with a blissful aura of clarity, reward my pure motives, and fill my brain with a technicolor carbonated panorama. Alas, I lazily walk my fingers over my keyboard or slouch at my easel, mourning the loss of my favorite eraser, wondering when others will discover that I am nothing but an impostor or at least a mere wannabe, and that I am simply using art as a way of dealing with my humanity, as a refuge and a means of emotional survival, as a tool to deal with my own anxieties, joys, the paralysis of boredom, and the tyranny of internet self-analysis.

Are you a true artist?

©2014 Dosia McKay


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