Before begin, I should apologize to those few friends I have. This is why you rarely see me. I love my friends, but I’ll admit I’m not very good at staying in touch. I do try though, believe me!
Given the choice, I’d be a recluse, an artist voluntarily confined to the studio. I don’t watch a lot of television. I’m not on the PTA of my daughter’s school. I’m not into most sports. I don’t go to church. I don’t like talking on the phone. I can only handle socializing for so long. I cherish my solitude. I’d be fine with letting my own birthday pass me by if I could be left alone in my studio to paint.
Yes. I’m an introvert. But it’s a misnomer to say introverts are shy, antisocial creatures. True, once upon a time I was paralyzingly shy, but I grew past it. Nowadays my solitude and silence is by choice, but I wouldn’t underestimate my quiet demeanor. I am anything but quiet on the inside. Painting quells that inner fire and colors are a feast I devour daily. But every artist, whether they are introverted or not, has a life outside the studio. As much as I love my peace and quiet there are times I crave interaction, and while I may not be a typical suburban mom, I do have interests that draw me away from my art. However, it’s those interests and life that also pull me back to my art.
Sometimes I am genuinely pulled out of my creative cocoon, as when National Theatre Live announced they would air Coriolanus to theaters around the world. I bought tickets to see the Donmar Warehouse production as soon as I could and it turned out to be both a great mother/daughter outing and an emotionally charged experience. Even during the performance I found myself thinking about art, especially when Hiddleston came out on stage with blood pouring down his face. Though it was fake blood, it still had me studying the droplets as they pooled around his chin and dripped onto the stage. (How would I go about painting blood like that? A mental note/image I stored away for later.)
Other times, I have to remind myself to stop and go mingle with the world. Times like that might be a nature walk or a trip to my local comic shop. Yesterday was lunch with my mother in Athens, Ga. Our waiter was a 20 something man with shoulder length blond hair (messily pulled back) and tattoos. He wore rugged jeans and a simple t-shirt. At the time I thought to myself, I’d like to paint his portrait. It’s these experiences, emotions and images we see that translate onto the canvas. Sure, you could lock yourself away in a dark room with only photographs of people, places and objects to inspire your art. But seeing those things and places, inhaling them, is what will give your art (and even your writing) life. A photograph of the white cliffs of Dover is nothing compared to seeing the real deal. I took photographs of course, but the experience and memory is far richer.
So. There is life outside the studio and you should seek it out. Maybe you can’t travel abroad, but you could go to a park, a cafe, a play, a concert, a convention, etc. Live life. It will make you a better artist and it will let your friends know you’re still alive (if you’re anything like me).