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Phillippe Leone, Unsplash

“ Honesty is reached through the doorway of grief and loss. Where we cannot go in our mind, our memory, or our body is where we cannot be straight with another, with the world, or with our self.

Every human being dwells intimately close to a door of revelation they are afraid to pass through. Honesty lies in understanding our close and necessary relationship with not wanting to hear the truth.

The ability to speak the truth is as much the ability to describe what it is like to stand in trepidation at this door, as it is to actually go through it and become that beautifully honest spiritual warrior, equal to all circumstances, we would like to become.” — David Whyte

Surviving day to day, we hardly notice the compromises and negotiated settlements we accept that don’t quite measure up to truth. We adapt, we learn to ignore and suppress the effects of lies and half truths as our gorge rises in rebellion. We become trained to the rules of our family, our society, even if we feel violated.

That’s why I wanted to be an artist of some sort, because I suspected there was a deeper life to be uncovered. Being an artist was not making pretty things, for me, it was making true things. On the surface lived the social animal, circumscribed by routine and passionless ways of being, but underneath lived the poet, if he could be accessed.

That’s the way I thought of it, anyway.

Looking back fifty years, I see a simplistic way of thinking, but I also see how that way of thinking did in fact lead me to uncover deeper creative energies. Passion is actually a good word for these energies, because emotional forcefulness is implied. What else would you say? I had a predilection, a “leaning” toward art?

I don’t think so. At least for me, there was a magma that needed to break through the inculcated crust. That truth was not allowed in my upbringing, therefore art was the only path, but my practice had to be fashioned to channel the energies once they flowed. The power had to create a form that could contain it in an arrangement that could be read by the eye and understood by the heart.

Art is a language, but communication is an artful structuring of that language. You have to learn why the mind stays interested and why it becomes bored. It needs something wild and unexpected in a schema. The presentation can’t be chaotic. It has to be ordered. There has to be an ingenious mix of predictable and unpredictable.

That part took me a long time to develop. I enjoyed the volcanic releases too much in the beginning. Gradually I learned to create works that contained intense passion, but communicated that passion effectively. Again, a mix of opposites.

I think that’s why the word “artist” is associated in my mind with magus. When you create something worthy, it always has an element of mystery. Even the artist doesn’t quite know where it came from.

We artists are magicians.

Written by

I occasionally write fiction and also about creativity, loving, language learning and travel. I’m a longtime painter and reader.

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