Inside this issue
The Experience is All
First, be still. Mindful and aware.
Professional photographic artist, author and speaker working primarily in the Western US.
For to be aware of reality, of the living present, is to discover that at each moment the experience is all. Alan Watts
Painter Chuck Close passed away recently, which reminded me of his famous quip, “inspiration is for amateurs—the rest of us just show up and get to work … you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every day. Today, you know what you’ll do, you could be doing what you were doing yesterday, and tomorrow you are gonna do what you did today.” Not surprisingly, Close’s work, consisting of giant photo-realistic portraits (many of himself) has not changed much over the years. Still, his consistent style has made him a gallery favourite, a sought-after portrait painter and photographer, and a good living. Considered strictly in professional terms, Close was a very successful artist.
My own approach to creative work is in a sense the opposite of Close’s. I am never content doing the same thing day in and day out for too long. When I feel I have tapped out the creative potential of some idea, I become bored with it and it no longer satisfies me. I feel most content with my work when I discover new things when I’m excited by a new style or subject matter, when I learn new means of visual expression or some useful bit of new knowledge. “Success” doesn’t fully describe the sense of accomplishment that ensues from such progress. The term seems to measure only material returns on some investment of time and effort. The feeling I’m referring to goes considerably beyond that—it enlarges my sense of the world, excites me to explore further, affirms in my mind that so long as I remain open to possibilities there will always be more to learn, to discover, and to create. Inspiration doesn’t just motivate me to create work, it also drives me to seek more inspiration. The more inspired I feel, the more I wish to sustain my inspiration, to experiment and to tackle new challenges in hope of unravelling yet more novel and satisfying ways of experiencing the world and evolving my work.
I very much agree with Close’s assertion that inspiration is for amateurs—for those who pursue their work primarily out of love, whether or not they also earn a living by it.