Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Life as an Artist

Strings and Fingers

It seems as if I’ve always been involved in some sort of arty-type activity. Music, of course, has very often been my focus, be it playing trombone in elementary school, junior high, high school and during my brief visit to Western Illinois University; or playing guitar from the time I was fifteen until now. From time to time there have been a variety of craft projects, which I created concurrently with the always-present music. I learned leather carving by watching my father and from a number of instruction books. I made belts and wallets and purses, plus bracelets, knife sheaths and watchbands. Of course, I made guitar straps, too. I painted, without much success, with acrylics, but only briefly. I discovered that I knew nothing of the fundamentals of painting or drawing, and that lack resulted in very flat, crude, uninteresting paintings. I took up stitchery for a while, mostly because it was something I could do indoors where it was warm to pass the time during the long winters while I was living in the mountains of Colorado. I’ve done a bit of woodcarving here and there throughout the years. I learned woodcarving when I was a Boy Scout. I learned a lot about survival in the Boy Scouts, too, and I consider that very much of an art form if you are to do it well. Then there was macramé, basket weaving, Popsicle stick sculpture, carpentry, and landscaping. Oh, I almost forgot poetry, really bad poetry, oh, and theatre in the park during the summer and some musicals in high school.

In recent years, I’ve tried to elevate my photography to more or less fine art. I set the guitar down for several years, though I always kept one within reach. Recently, I’ve gone back to playing a little guitar now and then. And singing – I originally took up guitar so I could accompany myself as a singer. That of course led to songwriting, which because of the bad poetry, was never as good as I hoped it would be. In the last 10 or so years, I’ve done some car restoration, too. I consider auto restoration quite a high art form when done properly, not the way I do it. I dabble. I’ve got a dune buggy that I’m very happy with, but some of the other projects have fallen short of my ideal, primarily due to lack of funds.

Recently, when my employment situation underwent a bit of a setback, I realized that I’d been writing for longer than I’d been playing music. A few years ago, I thought I’d give writing for the sci-fi market a try. It was going well, I was starting to get some interest and feed-back from an editor when I got sidetracked for a few months and lost my momentum. I went back to playing music for while after that, but ultimately I realized that I simply didn’t have the uncompromising drive that it would take to get out of the small lounges where I was playing and move up into a higher echelon of success. That’s when I set the guitar aside and went to work in the “real” world. I’m not bad at working in an office; I have all the right skills. I can run word processing software, bookkeeping programs, spreadsheets, and data-base programs with the best of them, and I know the alphabet and my English grammar better than most. I can do office work, but I get bored fairly quickly, and that inevitably gets me in trouble and I have to move on. For a moment I thought I might like the security business, but, apparently, I’m too observant and intelligent to get along in those circles. I’m always able to see a much better way of doing the job and so, once again, I get myself in trouble for doing that instead of just mindlessly doing what I’m told. More recently, I thought maybe I could take up writing as a way to be creative and gainfully employed at the same time.

That’s where I am today, more or less. I’m writing --blogs and short stories. Because of the advent of self-publishing platforms like this one, I can get my writings out into the public eye without having to gain approval from editors or publishers. I just need a few more public eyes to find my stories interesting. That’s the next phase of this new stage in my life as an artist. I’m trying to find the art in promotion and marketing. It’s not as obvious as I had hoped, but I’m going to keep plugging away at it.

If all else fails, I did renew my security guard license for another couple of years.