Thursday, August 13, 2009

Because I Must

The other evening I watched "Frida," the wonderful film about the life of Frida Kahlo. When the young Frida asks the successful muralist Diego Rivera if she should make a career of painting he waves her away (as if this is an irrelevant question) and responds, "If you are a real painter you will paint because you have to."

I have always spoken of my art as secondary to the other endeavors in my life. I am a mother first, then an artist. Now that my children are grown I tell others: I am a life coach and (then) an artist. This sequence, I realize, is arranged in my mind according to conventional priorities. What I spend the most time on (mothering and now life coaching, another form of mothering) I call my career. But in terms of desire and energy, it is art, art, art - and it has been since I was a child. I am obcessed with beauty in all forms. I live for it. I also live to create - to transform things into something beautiful. (Perhaps mothering and coaching fulfill that inner directive as well.) I must create. And so I draw, paint, sew, cut, sculpt, build....

Perhaps when I was younger if I had had this insight and the courage to back it up, I would have gone to art school and made a commitment to art as a profession. Perhaps. And perhaps I have protected my love by separating it from the need to earn money, which can be a corrupting force. (I am not saying that money is evil. I am saying that earning money as a goal will naturally influence the decisions one makes about one's work.)

I am reminded of a recent visit to a well- known artist whose work has just built her a beautiful home. When I remarked on how wonderful that was, she said, "Yes - and now perhaps I will finally have the freedom to paint what I want to. If I ever have to design another Father Christmas, my soul will die. To make money you often have to paint what someone else wants, you know."

Perhaps life coaching is the work I do for "someone else" and art is the lover I have to myself.

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