Seeing Success Through One Lens

16 x 20 Acrylic wash on canvas. K. Cameron

Seeing Success Through One lens

Last  night for an undisclosed reason I woke up 2:30 am. I went back to bed at 5:30 am only to remain in a REM-less sleep. You know the sleep that is not sleep. The one where for all intents and purposes you are awake. In fact I’m still in that state as I write this post. The lyrical description “Day Sleeper” aptly applies.

To pass the time between 2:30 and  5:30 I decided to spend it with my old friend Jack Daniels,er no  ..my old friend Google, who would help me search out and find other accounts of misery. Misery loves company.

The room was quiet and a bit cold. Outside it was -8 degrees Celscius (0 is freezing btw). A small electric heater clicking on and off in a creaky old house with the occasional sound of snow moving on the roof was all that was to be heard.

I felt alone.

I read blogs and stories about people who were going through a tough time in their lives. Most of them could have been bettered by just a small windfall of monies to give them hope. For example, one guy had been unemployed for over 8 years.

They all had one thing in common,these personal stories.  Success is and was defined as one’s failure to overcome a problem in their lives. Money was really at the crux of most of those problems. Job loss lead to divorce, loss of dignity, etc. One lady wrote as if this would be the note they found after her demise.  Sad. She mentioned how much she loved her 7 year old son’s smile but since everything in her life was chaos there wasn’t much point in going on. I can only hope her comment was more of a melodramatic plea but one never knows.

I think this all comes about because, especially in the West, we see life through one lens. We have created a so-called civilization that gauges all of our success/well-being on what we possess or our possess-potential. Once this substructure of thought is wrenched from our psyche we consider the most awful, despicable actions to ourselves or our neighbors.

We suppose we have nothing left to stand on.

We even consider leaving those that we love because in our minds we create their minds lens for success. We don’t even know for sure what the they think of us or that the they even give us any thought at all.

True, sometimes we do know what they think. Usually a dear relative will inform us of our delinquencies and failures as if the very proclamation of them would some how create an answer! Usually their soapbox sermons include a damning list of past and vast failures. This gives us another angle on the saying, ” Keep your friends close but your enemies closer.” In another words, your enemies may be less hard on your mental health than your friends/family.

What to do?

Snap out of it. My idea is tell myself whatever I need to in order to change my thought. If you know me you would know I never swear. In this case though a firm audible/ inaudible “ta hell with it!” might really help. Seriously but move on from there.

Find the ‘7 year old son’  reason to live another day.

I think the smile of a seven year old boy ( or girl) is worth something. It was for Leonardo Davinci! He’s gone but the Mona Lisa’s smile lives on.

Sure, sure…Maybe it doesn’t give you the money to buy him/her an ice cream or a trip to Disney Whirl but who cares!  In a way it’s not all your fault. Society plays a part. If we could lift ourselves even temporarily away from social expectations and see that people lived on this planet for centuries without this thing or that we might see the great crime committed when we even consider doing ourselves in.

I know. Depression is not so simple all the time. It’s a mental illness. However living our lives as if dancing on the edge of failure all the time is indeed to invite depression-disaster.

I think this is where art comes in.

This is my problem when we think about art and money as the same thing i.e. in the same category.

An artist can indeed, be successful without making a dime from their art. The point of art is to get us to see things differently or for how they really are. Being a financially successful artist is no gauge of how successful our art is.

So I say keep trying to sell your art. Sure thing. Although it’s not a measure of how successful you are as an artist or a person. No way!

So with these thoughts I leave you as the guitar strums me out.

All talk of circadian rhythm
I see today with a newsprint fray
My night is colored headache gray
Daysleeper…

My bed is pulling me.
Gravity

R.E.M.

 

 

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Turbulence

Blue Skies. Greenwood Base, Nova Scotia. Acrylic on Canvas. K. Cameron

Airplanes are  fascinating things. They can remain  suspended on basically nothing but certain laws of physics . I’ve always loved airplanes; doesn’t matter if they were super fighter jets or just ordinary (ish) passenger jets. Then there’s those old vintage aircraft that pop up on movies or in airshows like the Douglas DC-3. You gotta’ just love those silver winged ships that were built for sepia adventure in lost jungle lands.

Well I’ve never been on a plane. I’ve stood next to them; photographed them and touched them. I don’t feel at a loss but perhaps that can be chalked up to my latent anxiety of confined social situations.

We all know that turbulence is a word that scares the crap out of most people except perhaps those of some elite RAF or US Navy Seals that almost relish the challenge. Bring it on bitch! That kind of attitude for I which am grateful some of those trained men and women can have.

I don’t believe in spreading  the starving artist myth. To do so is just to  perpetuate this fictional dragon. Artists don’t have to be poor just because they are artists. The reasons for poverty are many but in a money-based society artists can suffer for lack of business acumen. In a western, democratized society I truly believe the reason for starving artists is simply because they have not *yet mastered the business side of art And/Or they do not have access to sound business counsel. To admit that there can be an art business that does not interfere with the creation of said art could be  the first step away from an empty cupboard.

One has to do what must be done. Selling is not copping out. Getting a part time job  is not selling out. The problem here is that the artist (photographer, musician, etc) has to have two heads upon one neck! Yes back to those sepia adventures. Unknown lands of two headed cyclops’s ( can there be such a thing?).  Y’know like the ones we saw in the matinee that introduced the main flick. Ah the good ole days when we spun flattened popcorn boxes like frisbees at the silver screen.

One head must only be thinking of creating art and dwelling in an abstract dream-like-land. The other twin head must be focused on marketing, selling, the books…the cupboard!

Why I almost did not post this.

I will confess to you if you ever followed this blog you will see that I have always been an advocate for not allowing money to determine what gets created. I still believe that. However although  I may have , ” slipped the surly bonds of Earth And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings…” in the process of creation I have ignored the necessity of money’s place in the grounding of our current lives. I do believe in some future world that money will mean nothing.

A caveat:  You can do art without selling it. More power to you. But you must be prepared to do something else for a living or make some kind of arrangement the likes of a  Tom Selleck TV series where you get a Ferrari and lodging in exchange for your skills.

Personally this past year or so has been particularly hard financially for my wife and I. As I said poverty or poverty-like situations can come to anyone. It’s when a series of events i.e. illness, job loss, car problems, confusion -all come calling on horseback like some biblical epic.

I think we are coming through the turbulence now. Nothing but blue skies from now on…, I hope.

Let it be said if you want to make a living from art then, for sure, for damn sure make it your living. Money is not surly. It is not good or evil. It is just a note of trade that will put food in your belly, a coat on your back and if  you wish– silver wings to carry you away!

*This includes myself as well.

Thing to be added: I wrote this. Hesitated a couple days. Then got weak knees, so to speak. This is because I did not want to make it sound like making money from art is an easy thing. It’s not. The best minds in the world can see that. What I am saying is that Selling art has to do more with selling than Making, in most cases. It means that the better you are at marketing and sales in anything , given the right conditions,consumer demand, network,etc., then the better you will be at selling your creations.

Often this is why extremely talented artists struggle financially. Conversely some poorly gifted or unskilled artists are successfully wealthy. This was meant to be more of a get out there and do it, rah-rah post than I just solved your life post.

Thanks for reading!