Not Being an Artist

Art is something very close to my heart, and aside from my various work efforts it is the thing that occupies most of my waking thought. I write, and paint, and draw, and sing and I do this all without expectation of an audience.

That isn’t to say that I don’t share some of the work (although I can’t imagine ever recording my own singing, no-one needs to be subjected to that) but it’s generally not created to be shared. I have several notebooks full of sketches and loose paintings that no-one is ever going to see. There are hundreds of thousands of words of fiction and non-fiction I have written that very few people will ever read. Unlike my work, which is often just as creative as the art I make for myself, which I make with the explicit intent that it be consumable by others; the value to me in my artistic practice is in the creation.

When I was in the lake district earlier this year, I made ten or twenty sketches of various places I visited. I only really shared one or two. And I painted multiple watercolours, and only really shared the one. And these were all shared on twitter, which is pretty ephemeral.

There have been times when, for whatever reason, I haven’t been able to create artwork and it’s been painful. The desire to decorate, personalise, record and memorialise seems to be something innate in humanity and it’s a common point of contention for me around depictions of post-apocalyptic societies where there’s no decoration or artifice to people’s living conditions. If neolithic humans could produce cave paintings in a pre-agrarian society, I’m sure the weird desert mutants can spend five minutes decorating their ruin.

Creating art connects me with five thousand generations of my ancestors. I might never make up my mind as to if I am an artist, but you can take my art from my cold dead hands.