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As I was working this morning on some of my blogs and other writing projects, I turned my attention over to Facebook. I’ve been working on a couple of new pieces of artwork, and I like to post the art in stages, giving my fans a sneak peek into my progress.
Scrolling through the newsfeed, I was rattled to my core when I saw an announcement about another shooting rampage in this country. But this one was different for me. It had occurred less than two miles from my home in Kansas City. While reading the details of this incident, another “Breaking News” story posted, about another shooting. This was one in a series of random highway shootings. It too, was within a relatively short distance of my Kansas City home. Feeling safe and sound on my little porch in Florida, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was time for me to finally relocate. I actually could feel the dread of having to go back.
But I know that once I get there, I’ll fall right back into my routine of teaching classes and creating art. The rest of the world won’t matter. Together with my students, we can all dive into the beauty being created with our own hands, and simply share the joy of making art. Art is like that. It wraps around you and makes you feel safe.
When times are troubling, I operate by diving head first into my art, and only surface long enough to eat, sleep, and care for others. I then, in a world that sometimes seems as if it has gone crazy, have something positive to show for my existence. I literally escape into my own little artistic world and block out the horrors that unfold around me. In retrospect, I’ve done this time and time again.
Is that a healthy way to live, some may ask? Being an artist has a bit of a stigma attached. Some believe I suffer from a form of depression because I totally withdraw. (That isn’t the case.) I’ve been accused of being eccentric, antisocial, and a hermit, because I stay inside for days on end working. People who don’t know me can confuse this with being rude. Some have accused me of wearing rose-colored glasses, because I won’t talk about bad things. I try to find the good in every situation and person. “Pretending everything is hunky-dory,” they say, “doesn’t make it so.” Not looking at the bad stuff doesn’t make it disappear. True. Good point.
Is escapism a good thing, or is it just a cop-out? I’ve known many artists who have similar behaviors. Do we artists have our heads in the clouds? Are we creative people a little “off” like the Old Masters were reported to be? Do we create our own little worlds and wear blinders? Perhaps, and so what if we do!
Well, my friends, this is my perspective. I’m very much a realist in my life and in my art. I’m fully aware of what I can control, and what I cannot. Remember that I’ve been in law enforcement my whole adult life, so I’m no stranger to tragedy. But I know when I can be of help, and I also know when my worrying affects only my own well-being.
That’s why I use my art as a coping device. There’ve been times when I’ve hidden myself in my work for months when things became too hard. It’s my safe place, and yes, I do become a bit reclusive. I use my art to help myself. If I didn’t, I don’t think I’d be able to cope with the horrific things that happen all around me. I believe that a lot of the bad stuff happens in this world by people who don’t have this type of outlet for their frustrations. Their passions go awry.
To offset the selfish motives of my creativity, I use my art to help others. Giving a portrait to someone who has lost someone in tragedy is a very healing gift for all involved. Helping with charities and doing my police work is all very fulfilling.
Escapism? Yes. Unhealthy? No. As an artist I think I have an edge. Few can find such a magical place to run and hide when the world seems to be going mad. Artists can use that madness to their advantage, and allow it to churn their creativity. Art permeates every aspect of my being. People who aren’t creative can’t understand that.
So when horrible things happen to wonderful people, I don’t talk about it or lament the way of the world. Ugly things have occurred since the beginning of man, and will continue until we die off. I won’t add to it by complaining. Instead, I just get busy. If I can help them personally, I will. If I can’t, I make art.
*If you enjoyed this blog, more inspirational stories will be found in my upcoming book REACH!.
Until next time,
Lee Hammond has been called the Queen of Drawing. That may not be fair these days, since in addition to providing the best drawing lessons, she has also created fantastic books and videos filled with the same easy to follow acrylic painting techniques, colored pencil techniques and more. Click here to see all of the instructional books and DVDs that Lee Hammond has to offer!
• Free download! Easy Acrylic Painting Techniques by Lee Hammond