THE ART OF BEING AN ARTIST: Neither A Palmist, Nor A Pessimist, But An Artist Is A Creator


By Zile Singh


Art is nothing but an expression of ambition, love and the desire to be remembered. An Artist is not only a painter, sculpture, musician, actor, singer or a dancer but also a poet, novelist, film-maker, editor, photographer, an orator  and even a person who displays in his or her work qualities required in art, such as ‘ sensibility and imagination’.  A person skilled in some task or occupation is also an artist like ‘an artist at bricklaying’.  Also, to win a battle is an act of art.  In my younger age, I came to know that type and shorthand were a ‘twin art’.  Circumstances drew me to learn this ‘twin art’, which later on became part of my profession.  It paid me dividends.  To sum up; art is a stage of mastery in any profession.  The fact of the matter is “Every child is an artist.  The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”- Pablo Picasso.


How to be an Artist?  “The works (art) must be conceived with fire in the soul but executed with clinical coolness.”- Joan Miro.  It is all about a battle between optimism and pessimism and between action and inaction.  The fire of optimism first defines the enemy then prepares a battle plan and finally a vision of victory. The life also is an art to battle with.    The Hindu Epic, Mahabharata stands testimony to this.  Lord Krishna first of all defined the enemies within a single clan.  Pandavas and Kauravas were of one clan.  Then he set  the rules of the battle and finally ensured Arjuna not to hesitate to kill the enemies, (though all of them were his relatives and clan-men).  He assured him that  they are already dead. Krishna gave him a vision of victory despite the fact that there were great warriors in the enemy camp.  People who have seen the TV Serial Mahabharta can testify as to how Krishna kept his face clinically cool throughout in  the battlefield.  Similarly, Rama, Buddha and Jesus fought the  battle of life with coolness.  Today, they  have become an Object d’ Art.    They identified the enemies, in the form of  vices of human beings,  and fought  them with coolness. Their calm, serene and poised faces are infectious, because,    art is an infection as well.  “ If a man is infected by the author’s or artist’s condition of soul, if he feels this emotion and this union with others, then the object which has effected this is art; but if there be no such infection, if there be not this union with the same author and others who are moved by the same work, then it is not an art” – Leo Tolstoy.


Helen Keller once penned a profound thing.  She wrote: “No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars, or sailed an uncharted land, or opened a new doorway for the human spirit.” Only an artist can perform such feats.  There is a secret that a real Artist knows.  That secret is:  It is not the art work that is hard, but what is hard is sitting down and start the work.  And what keeps us from sitting down and start work  is a subtle power within each individual to resist the natural growth. If this resistance is removed, there is a possibility for everyone becoming a towering human being in the art of living.  There is an adage first proposed by Swedish psychologists that goes something like, “Mastery comes after we have 10,000 hours in some craft or art.”  The idea is that time is required to get success in any vocation.  “Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”. Thomas Merton. Thus, Meditation also is a unique  form of art. Through meditation, one loses one’s unreal self and attains a real-self.


What is failing us in becoming an Artist is our passivity and negativity.  All of us have two lives.  One, we are living and another we aspire to live or unlived life.  Between these two lives stands a toxic force called a resistance, procrastination, laziness or putting off things for tomorrow.  These forces are subtle and right in front of us, but we are unable to see them.  These forces act in an apt manner without offending us.  On the contrary, we like them.  Hitler wanted to be an artist.  He moved to Vienna to live and study.  He enrolled himself at the Academy of Fine Arts and to the School of Architecture.  Instead of facing a blank canvas, it was easy for him to start World War II.


To live a life of an optimist is an art.  We all have ‘noise’ in our lives.  But an artist concentrates on the upbeat kind of noise. He considers restricting the flow of negative images into his daily consciousness, chooses the media wisely, looks for the silver lining  rather than dwelling in fear and regret, learns to be more resilient and  to bend without breaking.  The ego and fear attack the awakening artist.


A pessimist goes to the palmist and an Artist burns mid-night oil.  To me, an active person is an Artist.

Mr. Zile Singh is much respected Link Columnist, writer and a Vipassana Meditator. He can be reached at zsnirwal@yahoo.ca .


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