My first book, with a soaring title — On the Peaks of Despair — I wrote in Romanian at the age of twenty, promising not to write anything again. Then I wrote another one, and made the same promise to myself after finishing it. This comedy has been repeating for more than forty years. Why? Because writing, little by little, has helped me get through year to year, as expressed obsessions weaken and are halved.
— Emile Cioran
In some ways the hardest thing to attain as an artist in one’s work is honesty. Like Auden said “you never know how good a poem is, you only know how much you meant it.”
It’s funny that children have it when they pick up a crayon and make marks, but we lose it. LIke Picasso insighted: “it took me a lifetime to paint like a child,.” or 80 years to draw like I was 3.
To even know what honesty is is incredibly rare. It takes a lifetime of lying, and even then there are no guarantees. Once an artist discovers how to be honest, there’s already something great in the work. It doesn’t mean the work will be popular, understood or even seen. But the artist has found the place to start digging, to dig for gold. And they may never find it. But aside from actually finding it the next best thing is to die trying. Maybe it’s even better.
— Adam Shaw
When we set out to be some kind of artist we don’t exactly know where the gold is in terms of what we absolutely must say, and how we need to say it. All the issues of technique and subject and what might sell seem very important in the beginning, but you begin to realize that nothing is possible without passion. “It might be interesting “ is not enough. You need to find something compelling, even if you don’t know why it’s so important to you. That’s the vein of gold that you may not realize exists in you in some unique way.
When you touch that inner source of energy something happens that smelts a new reality, a new beauty. You never know how it happens but you learn that it won’t happen at all if you fail to connect with that half-buried passion. We are so conditioned to be hidden from ourselves that we have to relearn a radical honesty, and even then we don’t know if the market will care.