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Archive for May 18th, 2020

nope

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Earlier, I began to write about the huge amount of sloppy thinking being displayed lately by many people. You know what I mean, those people who grasp at the first meme or video clip or article that confirms what they want to believe the truth should be. They react in a visceral manner and immediately pass it on, not considering its veracity, source, or the context in which it is presented. They do no research at all and just take its credibility as a given.

As I wrote, I asked myself if this sloppy thinking was a product of ignorance or apathy. My answer of “I don’t know and I don’t care” made me think it would be best to save this subject for another day.

So, moving on, I read the other day that a lot of people are struggling with the isolation because they find there is actually more intrusion into their private time by their commitments to video chats and things of that sort with friends, family and co-workers. The article mentioned that their inability to say NO was a real issue for these folks, who felt an obligation to accept every invitation to participate.

It reminded me of an article that I ran years ago and again four years back about the necessity of saying NO. This is one of the first pieces of advice I offer to young artists when I speak with them, telling them there are sacrifices and choices that need to be made in order to succeed. One of those  choices is how you spend your time. My advice to them is that just learning to honestly say NO will make their artistic path easier and their lives infinitely better.

Here’s that article about the power in that word NO:

noThere’s an interesting article on the website Medium by tech pioneer Kevin Ashton (best known for coining the phrase “the internet of things“) called Creative People Say No. In it he talks about how productive creatives —productive is the key word here–  understand the limitations of their time here and as a result weigh every request for their time against what they might produce in that time. It immediately struck a chord with me as I have known for many years that my time as both a living human and artist are limited and that for me to ever have a chance of capturing that elusive intangible answer that goads me forward, always just a step ahead of me and just out of sight, than I have to mete out my time judiciously. We have X numbers of hours and doing something other than that which I recognize as my purpose  represents a real choice.

no 2Ashton echoes my own feelings when he  writes:  Time is the raw material of creation. Wipe away the magic and myth of creating and all that remains is work: the work of becoming expert through study and practice, the work of finding solutions to problems and problems with those solutions, the work of trial and error, the work of thinking and perfecting, the work of creating. Creating consumes. It is all day, every day. It knows neither weekends nor vacations. It is not when we feel like it. It is habit, compulsion, obsession, vocation.

So, over the the last 15 years, I have wrestled over every choice that takes time away from the studio, in most cases declining invitations to all sorts of functions and putting off travelling and vacations. Even a morning cup of coffee with friend or family requires serious debate. For a while I thought I was agoraphobic but I know that’s not the case. I just view my time here on Earth as extremely limited and shrinking at a constant rate with each passing day

no 1It reminds me of a conversation I had with a painter friend a number of years ago. He had brought up the name of a well-known artist whose work he admired who was incredibly productive. My friend bemoaned the fact that he himself wasn’t as productive and wondered how this person could do so much.  In the conversation he told me about all the activities that his life held– traveling , classes, music sessions with friends and time with his kids. I couldn’t bring myself to point out that he would have to start sacrificing something in order to be as productive as this other artist. It was obvious that his X amount of hours were spent differently than the other artist, who I should point out also had a studio staff with a manager and several assistants to boost his productivity. My friend made the choices that he felt were right for him and who could argue that his kids didn’t deserve even more of his time?  

I think of this conversation quite often when I am faced with a choice other than spending time in the studio. Even writing this blog entry is gnawing at me because it has exceeded the amount of time I want to spend on it this morning. That being said, I am going to stop right here and get back to that thing that I feel that I have to do.

Read the article. It’s a good essay.

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