To be an unassuming chronicler of life

Artists — be they writers, photographers, painters, musicians, or other – have different goals and reasons for why they create. Some claim their craft is a way of bringing fantasy to life, or of probing the subconscious.  Others say they make art to express specific ideas, to explore certain topics, or to give a voice to the voiceless. Some want to make the world a more beautiful place. And many don’t know why they create, they just know that “they must”.

I’ve slowly been making my way through the book Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. In it, I came across some words about the poet Mark Strand that really hit home for me.

“Patiently watching and listening to events unfolding around him, alternating between passionate involvement and sardonic detachment, [Strand] has found the pattern that best fits the predilections of his consciousness: to be an unassuming yet precise chronicler of life.”

“His craft” Mikkahily says “is to express in arresting and accurate language what he has learned from witnessing life”.

“Some artists get so involved in their creations that they lose their appetite for raw experience, but Strand welcomes ordinary life—puttering in the yard, having meals with the family, going on hikes, lecturing, even shopping.”

After all, “…the enterprise of writing makes sense only within the context of a broader, more mundane reality.”

Ah, to be a chronicler of life. Yes. That’s what it is.

Mundane, patterned, repetitive, unpredictable, beautiful, heartbreaking, changing, simple, complex, amazing life. I want to draw it all. Every day, forever.

Fall Walking - Crunching on Leaves

An old fall-y watercolor and ink illustration from my Illustration Friday days. It reminds me of back-to-school. Fall — such a poignant season of life!

In a field

I am the absence

of field.

This is

always the case.

Wherever I am

I am what is missing.

 

When I walk

I part the air

and always

the air moves in

to fill the spaces

where my body’s been.

 

We all have reasons

for moving.

I move

to keep things whole.

– Mark Strand (Keeping Things Whole)

 

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Pumpkin Patch Illustration

I haven’t had a chance to go pumpkin picking this year. But that’s okay, because I have this, which I made a while back…Pumpkin Patch Illustration

Looking at it makes me FEEL like I’m at the pumpkin patch. Until I get out there to do it for real, escaping into this picture does the trick.

After all, one of the reasons I got into illustrating in the first place was for the fantasy fulfillment it provides. Illustrating is a way of making life the way I want it to be and to explore the things I’m curious about. I can draw the world however I want it! Go wherever I please! Try whatever activities I might not actually be able to do in real life (like ride a gondola in the Alps with a hedgehog wearing a sweater)! I may not have the time to sew an entire quilt, or buy a chameleon and carry him around on my shoulder, or make enough pickles to fill an entire root cellar (shall I continue?) — but I can draw these things, and that makes life feel unlimited, in a way. Illustration gives me the power to create whatever dream world I want to visit and to have the adventures I can’t have in real life. Oculus rift? Ha! I already have access to virtual reality: I can draw! (*not bashing the Rift or anything…it’ll probably be amazing, as long as it doesn’t give me motion sickness…)

This pumpkin patch, with the crows and the kid in the blue sweater, is one of my favorite illustrations that I’ve made. It just…makes me feel good. Sometimes, that’s what art should be for.

(Prints are available at both Etsy and Society 6).

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