I thought a lot about the arts today as I started my day. It’s been a long period through the pandemic of staying aware, intensely so, all throughout sometimes 16 hour days of analyzing photographs and writing. What this really made me realize was that something was really happening that I didn’t expect. It supercharged my art practice. I don’t look at things the same way anymore. I pay attention to every detail, intensely so, looking with all of my strength and ability. What I really learned the most was not just in the content I was reading. It was there, but an intense appreciation and analysis of imagery and color led to an incredible shift in perception that I simply would not have been able to find under any other method. It was a combination of emotion, spirit, philosophy, and all life.
About mid-day, I shook off my fear, and just said to myself, finish your online class about oil painting you signed up for. I did, and I finished the lecture portion of three months of study in an hour. I then had three assignments to focus on. Two portraits and one landscape. According to the course, I was supposed to start from a photograph. So I had to select some images throughout my collection of photographs. I saw places we lived, I saw people I’ve known forever, I saw twenty years of my life go by in a matter of moments. I looked closely at each one. Every second of it, passersby, graffiti, across the world. We’ve traveled so much and I hope we do again. The photos I selected were of the week I proposed to Rachel. And I found many more that I will look at in the coming months.
This made me think about the decision I made after I made my first work as an animator at Digitas to leave the design field, move to Chicago, and study art. My life has been hard, but I’ve never really noticed, because art is always what I dream and think about. I’ve studied at some of the best art schools in the world. But really becoming an artist takes a lifetime of study. In the pandemic, I realized today that I ended up in the visual field more than I ever know. I’ve always been able to dream, but now I realize I am able to see, so strongly, and studying this way has brought that to me. I was so emotional today, and while painting my first lines today, all the teaching came through me. Studying thousands of years of art history everywhere I could from my teachers and everyone I know, authors I’ve come to know so intimately, long days and nights of solitude.
Was I painting in that time? Absolutely. I was learning at the best art school in the world? Yes. And what is art? Art is life. And we learn this in unexpected ways. In the galleries, in our museums, in study, in all fields, everything we do, when we notice them. And notice isn’t even a good name for it here. It’s awareness. Not passively, but with our entire body, speech and mind.
And that’s where I find our humanity. It’s always there, and always will be. The first day of art school, I had one class. I walked across the small town and got my book for the course, I read it while walking. It taught me to notice. I looked up at the trees that day, I noticed the forms moving throughout the trees, and saw for the first time. In my first moments painting today, I heard and felt years and years of study. And it was that spark that carried me through, and for the first time since then, I feel the same thing again. It’s very simple. I’m an artist, and today, I’m realizing I can finally really see. I hope I can give back everything my teachers have done for me. I’ll meet each day with this as I regain my art practice. I’ll give my all to this, and hopefully, one day, help the world to see, just a little bit more, to this incredibly beautiful life we share, that so many have shown me.