The school of life
June 24, 2011
Every year about 900,000 North Americans buy brushes and paints for the first
time. Every year, often after a prolonged bout of frustration, about 800,000
folks decide painting is not their thing. These figures are confirmed by the
statistics of artists' colourmen and art materials stores. Apparently, at any
given time, three percent of the population is trying to paint.
On the surface, painting looks easy, offers mounds of personal satisfaction and
has the potential of big bucks. But then again, so does golf. And we all know
that golf makes grown men cry.
When closely examined, high-aimed painting is difficult, loaded with
disappointment and the dubious benefits of poverty.
My basic idea is that pretty well all motivated persons can become realized
painters. But it's a tricky, deceptive path with lots of sink-holes. Certain
personality types, in my observation, have a better chance than others. To test
yourself against my findings, give yourself a score of one to ten on the
following twelve items. You don't have to score well on all. Out of a possible
score of 120, if your score is over 70 you'll be a likely candidate for a life
resistant to prior programming
The personality traits listed above all sidestep the possibilities of innate
talent. Curiously, many with loads of talent don't make it. Talent only
completes the equation. While many may have some primal facility in drawing,
color or composition, talent may be more the combination of some of those twelve
personality traits. In the words of Louis
Armstrong, "If ya ain't got it in ya, ya can't blow it out."
Our main job in life is to try to find out what we're good for. Life is a
school. We keep taking tests. If we pass a test, we move on. If we fail a test,
sooner or later we are given the test again. Failing or succeeding, wise artists
know themselves and quickly move through the tests. In art, it takes a lifetime
of moving through the tests. Fact is, they never stop coming.
PS: "To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is
the only end of life." (Robert
Esoterica: Many of us are urged in our youth to choose a lifetime field. Recent
research following the lives of a wide range of people found that many life
directions are cast in bronze by conditions or remarks made back in high school.
In a recent Time Magazine article, Annie
Murphy Paul noted, "High school is a formative life experience, as
social as it is academic, in which students encounter a jostling bazaar of
potential identities--from jock to prep to geek [to artist]--and choose, (or are
assigned) one that will stay with them for years to come."