Updated: Apr 13
My girlfriend sent me a quote, or meme, or one of those sayings you see posted on social media. It goes something like this:
“3 am is the hour of writers, painters, poets, musicians, silence seekers, over thinkers, and creative people. We know who you are. We can see your light on.”
The expression “the lights are on, but no one is home” comes to mind (someone present, but absent any substance). I don’t really spend a lot of time planning and organizing, much less contemplating my existence or the meaning of life. I didn’t do well in philosophy, according to the teaching assistants (TA’s) who graded my papers, and I found that it took an inordinate amount of re-reading the texts in order to even follow the arguments of some of those famous thinkers.
But, I’m not just going ‘gentle into that good night’ (Dylan Thomas) either. I’m of above average intelligence, and I think that may be part of why I am confused with an intellectual. I had such difficulty trying to figure out the color of my parachute (Richard Nelson Boles) that I went and got tested at the Johnson O’Conner Foundation. He was the guy that researched and told General Electric that women were better workers on an assembly line; because, they could do the same menial task over and over again for 8 hours without screwing it up. They informed me that I had a high aptitude for visual memory and that there is no measure for creativity. They also told me that I lacked the aptitude’s which academic institutions use to measure a student’s learning progress, and that I should try and just muddle through college and go on to have a happy, successful life. Oh! And, they tested me for colorblindness, which I already knew I was.
I spent (wasted) a lot of time trying to muddle through college, 20 years. It was a whole perfect storm of ‘no son of mine is going to be an architect’ and three repeats each of three levels of calculus, chemistry, and physics, plus all of the remedial English, algebra, and trigonometry to get there, only to be told that there were 200 applicants for each seat in engineering and that there was ‘no room at the inn’ so to speak. I can look back and wonder how much further along I would be as an artist had I started out in art but there just wasn’t support for that road less traveled (M. Scott Peck) (first world problems, right?).
I was so much older then. I’m younger than that now (The Byrds). Except, I am so much older now, like old, not quite dinosaur old, but I managed to survive into my sixties. Old enough that I can discuss things that come with the wisdom of maturity, like my eyesight going, illness, and death. One of the considerations of old age is that my back is no longer happy about standing for long periods of time at an easel, lifting heavy objects, or bending over, and I make noises... groans, really (arthritis... it’s gonna find you somewhere). Nobody ever really admitted to the ADD, but I got it. I know it.
So, it’s 3:00 am, I’m writing a blog post about art, and thinking about things, like, that saying you can get a product fast, good, or cheap... pick any two; however, in my case I’m thinking you can get fame, fortune, or happiness (supposed to be power), pick any two. But, really, what do I want to do with the rest of me, of my time here, however long that is?
I could paint into obscurity I suppose, although, I’m pretty much obscure already. I’m am working the whole blog and social media thing trying to be relevant, if not for fame and fortune. I clearly didn’t invest in gold or Microsoft in the 80’s, or hit on the Thomas Kincade jackpot (wildly successful pastoral landscape artist who sold heaps of prints with the assurance that one day they would be worth that much money, not!).
That leaves me probably having to work until I drop, as there is no 401K, or retirement at 55, or pension after working for some outfit for 30 years (the whole gold watch bit). I think I’m more like Charles Bukowski in the sense that I hated jobs. I’m much better at being a creative (I’ve been fired for my employer being unwilling to employ anyone more intelligent than they were. Go figure!). I am, also, not the 7:00 am at my desk consistently type, either. I’m more the 3:00 am sort of human, unfortunately. There are 5:00 am artists, but sadly, I’m not one of them. Give me a nice full moon and a luminary nocturne!
My paintings are not highly sought after... which is its own whole question of what to do with all of them now or later. I’m teaching art lessons, art classes, and learning about art, painting, marketing art, teaching, and blogging. My computer is not powerful enough to live stream, so I was saved from that rabbit hole. And, my girlfriend has been helping me by building a website, logo, brand and doing marketing tech like flyers and being, instrumentally, supportive.
I really enjoy making art and learning to get better at it. I also enjoy teaching others about art and being transformative in their lives, and I enjoy helping others achieve results, artistically. So, I get the satisfaction of giving some contribution back to society, and artistically at that. I’m so grateful for having found this passion, being able to pursue it, being able to contribute something through it, and find happiness in all those experiences, excluding the frustrating painting failures and students who don’t do their assignments. Is that a way of rationalizing success, maybe. Psychology wasn’t one of my strong suits either. I just wish there was some way for art to cure disease, end starvation, and prevent war.