Cautionary Creativity.

Posted: May 20, 2018 in Uncategorized


Here’s something that I didn’t learn in 10th grade art class…

Sometimes when you make art, people aren’t going to like it.
It’s true.
I’ve learned that sometimes craft confuses people.
To be an artist is to be willing to be misunderstood.

I was three years old when I first learned that sometimes when you unleash some art, not everyone will celebrate it.
My cousin Kelly was/is my sistah from anutha mistah. We have both always possessed the same wild, weird, offbeat, fun seeking spirit. We only got to see each other about once a year because she lived in Washington, and I lived in Oklahoma. But, from the start we’ve had a serious bond. Once, during their yearly visit, after a morning of playing and visiting the zoo, it was nap time. We were at Grandma’s House. Our   exhausted mothers tucked us in and left us alone in a back bedroom.
BIG mistake.
There was art in our three year old selves waiting to get out.
We quietly explored the room and do you know what we found?
A big box with Grandma’s oil paints.
It was full of tubes of every imaginable color.
And so we created!
We finger painted the walls, the bedsheets, and when we ran out of space, we painted ourselves.
By the time we were finished, it looked like a unicorn had vomited cold rainbow soup all over everything within a twenty foot radius.
And THAT is when our mothers decided to check on us.
We were quite proud of our work. It was beautiful and original.
But…SHOCKER…no one over the age of three shared our enthusiasm.
After a moment of shocked silence, there was some shouting and probably some cursing and feeble attempts to erase the art.
What we viewed as art, the adults viewed as vandalism.
It wasn’t the last time that happened.
In fourth grade I spent hours carefully drawing a picture of Tom Landry. I really felt like it was a masterpiece that belonged in a museum or the Hall of Fame. I showed it to my gym teacher who told me it looked like a potato in a hat. That was hurtful.
As a sixteen year old, I was the editorial cartoonist for my hometown newspaper for two weeks. The city councilman who was the object of my second cartoon threatened to sue the paper, so, I was fired.
I’ve written stuff that has been misinterpreted and used against me.
I had people insist that I redo projects for them twelve times until they felt like I finally “got it right”. This was a project that they weren’t paying me for.
My artwork has been called crude and superficial and weird.
I’m okay with that, because my artwork has also made some people smile and feel hope and joy.
My artwork makes me smile.
It’s what I was created to do.
When you make stuff, most people won’t get it. Some people will be mean. Some people will be confused. Some people will try to shut you down.
Criticism can cut.
Don’t let it quiet.
The natural reaction is retreat.
You want to pack up your crayons and go home.
You can refuse to share your stuff, but that would be a crime against humanity.
The world desperately needs to see what you see.
Art is meant to be shared.
Art is all about how YOU see the world.
The vision is yours.
It’s not up for debate.
Every body sees the world differently, some people will appreciate your viewpoint, some won’t. Don’t let that stop you from crafting what you see.
You create…
You make…
You reproduce the deepest parts of your soul so that the whole world can see what you see.
Sometimes they will thank you and celebrate your craft.
Sometimes they will stomp on what you crafted.
Don’t stop.
The world desperately needs to see what you see.
Break out the big box of paint and use every imaginable color!

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