Thursday, August 27, 2009

Words of Wisdom

"When I was an undergraduate art student, I was lucky enough to study with internationally acclaimed artist Terry Allen. I loved the class and worshipped the teacher, but I didn't always get my assignments in on time. One day a student asked Terry how you know if you are really an artist. Terry turned to face him and said, "An artist can't stop himself. He really has no choice about it." What an answer! I was mortified. I definitely was not an artist by Terry's definition. Even though I wanted to be an artist more than anything, I wasn't exactly clamoring to be in the studio. To be honest, I spent more time running away from making art than actually making it. Then one evening, after chastising myself for wasting yet another day, I finally understood what Terry meant. What he was really talking about was obsession. It didn't matter whether I was actually making art or not, because if I wasn't making art, I was torturing myself about not making art. I couldn't stop myself. I didn't have a choice about it. So my choice wasn't whether or not to be an artist, but whether to be an artist who worked or one who didn't.
-Cay Lang, Taking the Leap

I came across this quote on the blog Underpaintings: Words of Wisdom, by Matthew D. Innis. (Thank you Matthew for posting this!!)

The last few lines of this really struck home...
This is me. Whether or not I am painting or pursuing my life as a working artist, my need for art is ever-present. I have spent most of my life in a state of longing to create and jealous of those who do. I want to live my life in acceptance and in pursuit of what I know to be true about myself: I need to paint. I am an artist and I long to embody and move with this truth on a daily basis.

¹ Cay Lang, Taking the leap: Building a Career as a Visual Artist (San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 1998), p XV.

Art Details from: the Everpresent, 08, acrylic and pencil on canvas, 20 x 24 in, unframed, SOLD


  1. I totally agree with that sentiment. I'm more in a wishing/longing place. I hope to be in the doing/actively pursuing place one day.

  2. @child at art
    I hope that for you too. It is very freeing - what a joy to free what is true and real inside.
    xo Latifah

  3. thanks I struggle with this too, I enjoyed your blog and if it lets me I'll try to follow

  4. Hi Claudia,
    Glad you like the blog.

    I love to connect w/other artists. I hope that somehow by writing about our experiences we can help each other move forward... Artists helping artists... Collective growth?? Critical mass?

    I just know that what we do as artists is important. Thanks for sharing. :)


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