If life were enough, we wouldn’t make art.

There are many reasons that artists make art. This one is my favorite: To create a new world to live in. A mini world, a micro world, a place, a setting, a feeling, a vibe. Because the world in front of us, that which we objectively see, is not enough. The world that we move through, finding ways to work in order to shelter and feed ourselves and navigate through society – it’s just not enough. 

David Hockney. Inside it opens up as well. 2018

It goes back to a quote that I heard Austin Kleon say on a podcast: “If life were enough, we wouldn’t make art.” So wonderfully simple. I think about this often. In recent years David Hockney has been making these large scale collage type works, which I love. For me they really seem like he’s showing us the world he wants to live in. So simple. So joyful.

David Hockney. Looking at the Flowers. 2022

For some people, maybe life is enough, and that is fine. Not everyone has to make art. I have always been drawn to making art, but sometimes out of frustration I think, “I didn’t ask for this,” and I actually do wish life was enough for me. I wish I could be one of the people who navigate through society, buy food, take vacations, raise families, and say, “This is enough.” 

Things that exist in my mini world

A friend of mine recently rented out her house, finished up her travel nurse contract, and hit the road. It’s just her in her car, traveling across America. She goes where she wants, camping, taking pictures, meeting people along the way. To me it sounds heavenly. I am both so joyful for her that she is doing this, and also incredibly envious. To others it sounds dubious, and worrisome. They comment that it “doesn’t sound safe.” Maybe a woman living out of her car and camping by herself is a little on the edge of safety, but if my friend’s world was enough for her, she wouldn’t be doing it. If the world were enough, we wouldn’t take risks. 

I did something similar in 1999 and I hope to do it again someday if the circumstances line up.

But for now I’ll keep creating my mini-worlds, places, settings, vibes, etc. with my collages. This morning I was working on one and I thought to myself, what exactly am I doing with this and why? Well the thinking was that I like painting with a palette knife, because it reminds me of icing a cake, and the way that feels and the way it tastes and looks. In my world there will be lots of paint, and lots of cake.

The road to Hell is paved with cake. 2023



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