November 27, 2013

How to Love an Artist. ~ Sarah McMurray

 Artists are some of the most courageous people I know.

They walk a fine line between storyteller, world changer, and sideshow freak (aka: the creative who was brave enough to forgo a safe life for the sake of following their heart).

My artist’s heart wants to be loved for this, for the wild, dangerous adventurer that it is.

Artists are dreamers and possibility-seekers who often pioneer their own trail. We face the myth of the starving artist—that thinking outside the box is in vain, and unprofitable—but art, like any revolution, tells future generations of our dreams, ambitions, struggles and lives.

Don’t tell me I am too much to love as an artist, ask me why I believe creativity could change the world.

Ask me why my favorite color is orange, or what I love about how the stars hang in the high desert sky.

When I’m creating, just observe and be curious. Don’t ask if I “should really do it that way” while I’m working, ask me about my process later.

Invite me to tell you about my vision, my process, what I want to change and what I secretly love about how the lines dance across the paper.

Show up, even for a little while, to my shows and occasionally bring flowers.

It will surprise and remind me that you are curious and supportive about my efforts to change the world.

When we watch the game, just smile when I comment on how the jerseys of opposing teams clash, because I notice color—it has nothing to do with the teams themselves.

Create something with me—dinner, breakfast, a playlist for a road trip—it doesn’t have to be fancy. It can just be you and me, creating together. It would mean the world to me.

If and when I question whether I should pick a more practical job (it will happen from time to time), tell me not to half-ass my passion, and not to create a back-up plan yet, because back up plans will only f**k up my dream. (Unless it’s truly time to move on.  Then help me come to that conclusion on my own, but don’t ever tell me to quit).

When I give you something I’ve created, treasure it.

I don’t give creativity to anyone; it’s from my deepest heart and is a piece of my soul.

On date night, take me to a gallery and talk about the paintings, or photography, or let’s go to a spoken word event, a cultural event, or dinner at your house—because the truth is, it’s all art: creating something out of nothing and sharing it with someone else.

Make love to me. Whisper poetry into my ears and across my skin by candlelight with Mozart playing in the background. In the morning we’ll make pancakes, drink coffee and talk about our childhoods.
I will tell you about my first set of watercolor paints and how they changed everything.

On days I’m not feeling beautiful or confident, tell me I’m gorgeous like Ruben’s paintings—whole and perfectly human. I’ll swoon, I promise.

And on days when it feels like too much work to love me, let me remind you of the adventure and courage it takes for each of us to bravely and beautifully create a life we love. We are all artists in our own way: selecting the colors and textures for each day of our lives, hoping to impact the world and give meaning to our lives in some small way.

Love me for trying.

And I will watch with the same awe and curiosity how you live and I’ll ask questions and come up with ways to love everything about you despite our differences—and in the end, we’ll realize we are both coloring our canvas with different hues of the same paint and it’s beautiful.

Your life is not unlike mine.

We both yearn for connection, joy, hope and to somehow make the world a little bit better than we found it. You create this daily in your interactions with medical clients and I create beauty in hopes of bringing a little ray of light to the dark places. We are not so different.

If it is too hard for you to love a seemingly impractical artist, it is because you never took the time to get to know why I create. If it is too difficult for you to understand what I observe in the world and what I offer to it, then we are not well matched after all.

So here, over tea, we release each other to find someone else to love more deeply, who will inspire us to ask the right questions and create something truly beautiful together.

Because loving anyone well, artist or not, comes down to seeing someone for all their mystery, passions, story and exploring them for the wonderful adventure that they are.

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Ed: Bronwyn Petry

{Photo Credit: Sarah McMurray and Elephant Digital Archives}

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