September 2, 2014

What do Artists Know?

Note: This piece was originally published on January 20, 2012, just one day more than a year ago. I am re-posting it because it captures a moment in time when none of the worries or fears, inherent in this life I have chosen, were touching me. As in everything, the life of an artist embodies all of the lights and darks the universe has to offer, as well as its many shades of gray lying in between. But the truth is, my life is filled with magic, even when I’m in darkness. As Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight says, “I like the night. Without the dark, we’d never see the stars.” Indeed. And without the dark, there would be no artists. Even when I’m in the midst of it I have to appreciate the struggle because, whether I want to admit this or not, I really believe it is where a part of our art begins.

What do Artists Know?

I am sitting at my kitchen table with a mug of steaming coffee this morning, watching a snowstorm move across the mountains. A profound silence fills me with peace and I am so very grateful for this life I am privileged to live. Earlier today a friend said that we are in a state of grace and I don’t think there is any better way to say it. Not only are we out here, deep in nature, our pastures and homesites cut from the forests long ago, nested high up on the sides of this mountain, but we spend our days creating. What could possibly be better than that?

It is a spare, simple life I’ve chosen, having pared down over and over again through the years. And it is this self-same simplicity that offers its grace. Everything stands out against it—the light of the moon at night on snow, a coyote trotting one pasture over, my breath coming in and out, feet solid on the ground. Nothing slips by me. Everything stands out in perfect relief, beauty showing itself there, the common made uncommon.

The same friend recommended that I also write about the other side of grace, that I offer some balance. Because it certainly isn’t always easy living this blessing of a creative life. There is a price we all pay. I’ve said it many times before on this blog: the life of an artist isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes courage to get up every day and “make ourselves” as Robert Henri said. To dwell in the unknown, and to keep producing anyway, to keep an open mind, to learn new ways.

But in moments like these, sitting at my table with a mug of good coffee next to me and a storm coming in over the mountain, I feel my soul in this body’s housing. I understand why I came into this physical form. I came for this: to feel the stars in my heart and to care. To do what I can.

I look out my window. The sun has cut a swath through the clouds and it has started to snow.

Love to you all,
Jeane


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