Something I’ve realized is that despite what I previously thought, one can stop doing art, and not go crazy. There’s this notion that “I have to make art, or I get twitchy, unsettled” etc, etc, etc. The common statement that “I make art, because I have to.”
But you know what? You don’t. You don’t have to. You’ll only be twitchy for a little while. You won’t go crazy, you won’t necessarily get into an unclimbable funk, you won’t lose who you are. You can stop making art, and life goes on. You’ll engage in the love you have, eat good food, drink good wine, and go on with your life. The point here isn’t that, then, you should stop making art. The point is that it is important to look at art-making as a choice you make every day. That you choose to make art, not because it’s necessary for your physical survival, but because it is crucial for the survival of your society, your world, your community. Because it brings beauty to a world that desperately needs it. Because lets others out in the world know that they’re not alone in how they feel or what they think. Because it shines light on issues and creates an even louder squeaky wheel. You make art because while you may be able to work through your issues without it, art making usually expedites it exponentially. You make art because while your life might not actually depend on it, it definitely makes your life better.
Another thing I’ve realized over the last few years is that the mental mechanism that is coming up with ideas can shut down if not engaged in regularly. Some people talk about this in terms of the muse, of inspiration. And, conversely, others talk about how the discipline of sitting down every day is the key to “inviting the muse” and “making sure the muse knows how and where to find you.” Which is another way of saying that unless you engage in your practice regularly, preferably every day, you get out of practice in engaging in your imagination. and coming up with new ideas. No, you don’t forget how to be an artist, you don’t stop being an artist, but you will find it hard to get that part of your brain, and spirit, moving again, the longer you go.
So you engage in daily practice. You choose, every day, to engage in the practice of your art, whatever it may be. Painting, writing, making music, making food, making coffee, making pottery, jewelry, sculpture, weaving, whatever. You choose your art, and then you choose to do it regularly. You choose, because you have a choice, and you know what the right choice is. To create beauty in the world.