Friday, February 12, 2010

the winter bench

i wanted to be an artist
but i heard
that it wasn't
a "practical" existence.

i heard that
i could paint and write
and create music
"in my spare time".

i heard that
i shouldn't confuse
a hobby
with making a living.

i did manage to
work and paint
for a while,
but eventually
the demands
of my many commitments
became more vertical
than horizontal.

some were more
necessary than others.

i wonder
how many of you
from well-meaning
and influential friends
and relatives?!

i wonder how many of you
harbour the same wish?


the wish is still lit
inside me.

i feed the wish
with other artist's work,
with music that paints the air,
and of course
with the inexpressible benevolence
of the world around me.

like this winter bench,
the wish waits
for the time
when its purpose
and the features of its world
merge into one
and the sameness.


Dan Gurney said...


My brother, Jim, got the same discouraging messages from my parents.

"Art is okay, but be real. Train for a real job. Art is a hobby."

Jim went to U.C. Berkeley, following me there. Majored in anthropology. The dorms used computers to match roommates who shared similar interests.

My brother checked ART as his area of interest, despite my parents' discouraging advice.

The Housing Service computers matched my brother with an artistically-talented roommate who offered my brother a different view about making a living from art.

And my brother Jim's life was forever changed.

My brother, Jim, has earned more money from his paintbrush than I ever will with my "realistic" job. He's out-earned my father whose advice he was smart enough to discard.

My brother had the sense to follow his bliss, because he listened to his roommate. His roommate told him to follow his dreams and believe in his talent.

You may have heard of my brother's dorm roommate.

You probably do not like Jim's roommate's work, but both Jim and his roommate have--without any doubt--made a good livings with their art.

Who was this kid?

Thomas Kinkade.

Moira said...

But Steven, you are an artist, why do you think people come back day after day after day to look at your pictures and read your posts? Because you have a way with words and an eye for beauty and your blog feeds our souls.

jinksy said...

There is no doubt you have the eye and the soul of an artist - I hope the body soon gets in on the act full time!

Elisabeth said...

I know that wish, Steven. All these creative pursuits. My husband calls them basket weaving, the stuff you can do by way of hobbies, but still I'd love to write full time. I doubt I could do it though. I need the pressure of the conflict between life's demands.

A beautiful snow covered bench, at such times unusable.

jinksy said...

I can never decide whether my comment has disappeared, or whether its simply waiting in a queue...
At the risk of repeating myself, I said you have the eye and soul of an artist, and that I hoped your body would soon get in on the act, full time!

oldpoetsoul said...

You already are an artist--don't I and others tell you that daily? Like this bench, you are already doing your job: holding things up! I thank you for your consistent representations of beauty, your truth shared with the world.

Jenny Stevning said...

OH MY! I love what Dan shared! Amazing story...
And yes, I have rowed that boat, too. But, Steven, I am sitting flooded with this feeling that most often my family has supported me but I haven't believed in myself. (sigh) Gonna have to sit with that one for a bit...
Thank you!

ellen abbott said...

It's a sad state of affairs steven. In this country (don't know about Canada) art is not valued. Young people are discouraged from going into the arts just as you experienced, art is the first thing cut from a school's curriculum (if they had an art program to begin with) when money gets tight. Working artists have no fall back for support from the community. Houston finally incorporated a % for the Arts program and one of the 'watchdog' reporters here regularly targets the art put in public spaces as a result of this program as a waste of taxpayers money. the guy hates everything, has zero appreciation.

Being an artist is a hard life for most. Most working artists have a working spouse. Art is the first thing that gets cut from individuals' budgets when money gets tight. Oh, but they always can find money for whatever electronic gadget has just come out.

Golden West said...

My dad has always said that if you do what you love, you'll never work a day in your life. A wise man, my dad.

Linda Sue said...

YES Steven! So perfectly expressed! I've had an artistic bent since before I could walk but was continually discouraged, pushed into "REALITY" , consequently I have failed at every vocation and university degree I have attempted.( for a math final I wrote a poem!It did not impress...I failed) Never have taken art classes or jumped on board whole heartedly. Odd that I married the same nay sayer as my parents- blog world is the only place I have recieved encouragement. AND YOU, dear lad, inspire my senses- foder for art, for thought, for expression. Thank you!

Kay said...

Hi steven....your blog proves that you are and artist and an inspiration already...but maybe you don't think so?!! I went to art college but have never made a living from it...I think I lack dedication....the mind that flits from one thing to an other or as my father would have said'jack of all trades and master of none!!'
however i think that everything i have done has been creative in some way..but i still have canvas's and paints waiting for day!! xx Kay

hope said...

I always loved kids and teaching them things. So I "allowed" adults to talk me into earning a teaching degree in college. So I'd have a steady job. Benefits. Help kids.

But I wanted to be a writer. I secretly lusted after a degree in Journalism.

So after putting myself through college in less than 4 years, I graduated with a Teaching Degree.

And there were no teaching jobs.

So I had to embrace what a wise professor once told me, "What you do for a living is not WHO you are."

I work with Sr. Citizens. But on my blog, and in my heart, I am a writer.

Thank you for allowing me to admit it out loud. :)

Eryl Shields said...

I know so many people who tell the same story of their own lives, and once read that Paulo Coelho's parents had him institutionalized and submitted to electro shock therapy because he insisted he wanted to be a writer; they wanted him to be a lawyer.

It seems to me that your artistic inclinations are finding an outlet, even if it's not as the next Picasso.

steven said...

hello eryl, a long long day and only just finding time to answer the amazing comments that arrived in todays post!!! there's lots of satisfaction in the blog. i agree. i used to paint. there's something very intimate and passionate about painting for me. i am grateful for your thoughtful comment. steven

steven said...

well hope you truly are a writer. anyone who hasn't visited your blog needs to click on the link in your comment and spend time there. for me it's like going home. steven

steven said...

hello kay! i have many creative outlets but i wish i had been able to pursue art - painting and then whatever else - but it hasn;t worked out that way and i have no regrets as much as i wonders!!! however, i do look forward to working with glass when i retire. possibly even before i retire. steven

steven said...

linda sue - it's almost as if people build failsafes into their lives to prevent failure because for many being an artist is akin to being a failure. you don't "produce" anything tangible or worthwhile. strange that my friends are all extremely creative and incredible people many of whom are well out of the box!! thanks for the lovely comment linda sue!!! steven

steven said...

golden west - i teach and i love what i do. truly i do. it's a passion. it exhausts, fills, tears, heals - everything and so i know i;m in the right place. perhaps the art piece truly is meant to wait for the school work to be done. then i can focus entirely on it and become incredibly famous!!!! steven

steven said...

ellen thanks for this. i have several friends in the arts community and i know the sacrifices they have made that i didn't. i look at all that they have given and achieved and i am in awe. in my own life i have a profound wistfulness around the subject of my having not followed - well left for a while - the art world. but i know i'll return. steven

steven said...

jenny stevning that's so often the truth (and the case) that it's more to do with not having been true to yourself or your dreams as opposed to being discouraged by others. steven

steven said...

oldpoetsoul thankyou for that very kind and generous estimation of me and my work here. there's much much more but that'll show up another time another place!!!! steven

steven said...

jinksy -
here are some pertinent facts and pointers on posting your comments here. you post your comment mid-morning your time. you're five or six hours ahead of us. so i get up at 6:15 a.m. or 11:15 a.m. your time.
i have comments sent to my e-mail so i can peruse them, decide whether or not to post them - some of them are from anonymous contributors who offer all sorts of unsolicited medical and financial advice - and then i up them and respond most days right away. i think that's pretty good don't you?!!! have a peaceful evening- be patient jinksy!! steven

steven said...

elisabeth your point about the tension between having the freedom to work creatively and not is a huge factor in the way i work in general. it was certainly a motivation when i painted. thanks for all your thoughtful and generous comments elisabeth!!! steven

steven said...

dan that's a great comment for sure! i know your brother's work and the work of kinkade. i like your brother's work - kinkade's is very clever and likely among the best of its genre. it's incredible that they ended up in such a small space - together!!!! wow. steven

Richard Jesse Watson said...

Nice post, Steven. I have had real jobs which paid all my bills. and that was wonderful (looking back). For years however, I have pursued being an artist full time. I could never go back, and do not want to. There is a price to every decision. Another way of saying "the grass is greener on the other side". But sometimes whether the grass is greener or not, one simply must hop the fence because of the yearning. There is great joy on this side of that fence, but also anxiety, pain, discouragement. What helps is friends, and hope, and longing.

steven said...

thanks richard! i realize looking back over the life i have led and lead that i followed a good path for me and the larger world of whxih i am a part. performance art, painting, and a little music gave me a taste of the world that i know i belong in but can't immerse myself in just yet. i appreciate your grass is greener comment. thanks for dropping by richard! steven

steven said...

moira thankyou for that very generous comment. i am truly flattered by the very kind words my visitors leave. steven

~ MCJArt ~ said...

Steven ~

I had a 'very meandering path' that finally led me to my true reason~for~being ~ ART ~ it was stronger than I ~ If you wish to learn more, my brief bio, on my artist website: explains ~

Please don't wait ~ create a small space (even if only 5'X5') devoted to your artist's soul ~ for exploration, for growth ~ symbolism and practical elements, if you can ~ being certified in feng shui, I could help a tad ~ email me if you wish to 'discuss' ~

Crafty Green Poet said...

its sad that so many creative people are discouraged like that, my parents wanted me to be 'a scientist' even though I am hopeless in the lab. I'm lucky in havign a part time job and lots of time to write and create,