Some of my earliest memories are of going to the art museum with my father. Later, when I started playing violin, my parents took us to the symphony. We read widely, went to plays and art festivals and were generally immersed in the arts.
Before I started my family, I spent years attending live music, traveling to some of the world’s best museums, and grabbing a seat at every literary lecture and reading I could.
Things changed. I spent several years not availing myself of art. I had some good excuses: young children, a fixer-upper house that needed lots of fixing up, lack of money. Eventually, I stopped using excuses altogether. Experiencing art just wasn’t something I did anymore.
But then I met my friend Nancy, a dancer. She invited me to one of her performances, which was to be held at the building where we both worked, in a small studio space crammed with a few chairs and lit sparingly.
During the performance – an unfinished avant garde piece she was testing out for a choreographer friend of hers – I found that lost piece of myself, the one that is fueled by art. And I had an epiphany.
Writers are artists. I am an artist.
That’s probably a big duh for most of you. I hope it is anyway. But I have found a surprising number of writers who don’t consider themselves artists, or at least don’t refer to themselves that way.
And I think it’s important that we do. Artists create. Writers create. Writers are artists.
Sure, you should read a lot in and out of your chosen genre. But my inner artist is hungry for more. Every art meal I feed my inner artist sparks a new idea in me or gives me an interesting new direction for my work.
Feed your inner artist:
- Get a membership to the art museum in your town. When they have a show featuring a particular school or artist, go and see how the ideas and style evolved over time.
- Attend plays and listen to the dialogue. See where the playwright, the director and the actors savor the words, and where they rush.
- Check out some out-of-the-box performance art. How does the artist use surprise or shock to communicate?
- See musicians who aren’t in your musical library. How does listening to new music spark your own creativity?
- Spend time with other artists. Talk to them about their work, learn how to discuss your work. Encourage each other!
In short, expand your artistic horizons.
I am more grateful than I can express for my writer friends and their support, advice and camaraderie. But my inner artist craves the connection with other creative types, too.
Nancy and I often set aside times to discuss art – the creative process, the ups and downs of creating, revising and polishing, the public reception, the germ of a new idea. Our work in different mediums isn’t an impediment to discussion at all. In fact, it enhances it. We often try to bring in other artist friends who can express similar ideas through the lens of photography, sculpture, ballet, architecture, or music.
I attended a concert and discussion recently where the moderator asked a songwriter about intention. The songwriter said he often started out thinking that a song was about one thing, only to find that it ended up being about something else entirely. That happens to me almost every time I write, and hearing another artist talk about that made me feel less alone.
Since that first performance of Nancy’s, I have seen her dance several times. I’ve also started to seek out art again, including going to more live music, taking my kids to art festivals, museums and theater, and generously tipping the fantastic cellist at the farmer’s market.
Each time I experience a new piece of art it feeds that creative part of my soul and reminds me that far from being frivolous or a luxury, art is essential to my well being and the well being of the world.
Your art matters. Feed your art — and keep on creating!
What feeds your art? Do you connect with other artists, either in person or online? Let’s meet in the comments to discuss!