Van Gogh & the Question of Audience

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” Does what goes on inside show on the outside? Someone has a great fire in his soul and nobody ever comes to warm themselves at it, and passers-by see nothing but a little smoke at the top of the chimney and then go on their way. So now what are we to do, keep this fire alive inside, have salt in ourselves, wait patiently, but with how much impatience, await the hour, I say, when whoever wants to, will come and sit down there, will stay there, for all I know? “

Vincent Van Goghletter to his brother Theo, June 24, 1880

I read this quote by Van Gogh last week on Austin Kleon’s blog last week which inspired the question of the value of audience.

Before I started to blog this year, I wrote in comfortable anonymity in a small leather bound journal for an audience of one- me.  Then I started my blog as a “must do” to help promote my visual art online.  This intention swiftly changed after I published my first blog post “You Just Start.”  To my amazement, I heard a little chime shortly after I hit the post button letting me know that one blogger had “liked” my post.  I was floored.  Really I had expected nothing, but the fact that my writing connected with someone emboldened post-impressionist-1424183_1920me to share more of my personal writing.

Several posts later I received my first follower which amazed me even more.  Then I began to join in the community by liking, commenting, & following others blogs.  As I have been building my audience, I have been an audience to others, adding such a rich dimension to my creative life.  Having an audience has been an affirmation that my creative expression has value to not only myself but to others.

Still, no matter what, I need to create with satisfying the audience of my own soul as my first priority.  When I create with the intention just to please others, my work seems hollow. That’s when I feel the most despair if no one “comes to my table.”  I will continue to write with or without an audience.  Luckily I don’t need to make money post-impressionist-1428128_1920from my writing and I will savor any audience that comes my way. The important thing is I be brave and share my work.

Van Gogh stayed true to his artistic vision even though he was penniless.  During his lifetime he never sold one painting.  He could have painted in the style of the day to generate income. What courage that took and we are so much the beneficiaries of that courage years after his death.  If only knew what a genius he was.  If only he could have experienced his audience.

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Weekly Photo Challenge “In the Earth there is Shelter”

Chaco 1These photos were shot in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.  Chaco Canyon was an ancient spiritual gathering site for tribes in the Southwestern US.  I was struck by how integrated these ancient people were with the earth, to the point their very shelter was made of bricks and stones from the ground beneath their feet.

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Earth

Mistakes Happen

Why is it we learn so much when things don’t go as planned?  I ponder this again after not thinking things through and doing my homework before entering the art show I participated in last weekend.

Mistakes happen

Errors of judgment

Unpleasant results

Usually expensive

Literally & figuratively

Missed – takes

Such

Learning opportunities

In this university of life

This education is exhausting

But apparently required

To reach one’s true destination

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To the Homeless Man on the Street Corner

I saw you there

As I waited in queue to turn left

Windshield wipers chasing furious raindrops

The wind buffeting your cardboard sign

HOMELESS

JUST GOT JOB

NEED MONEY FOR WORKBOOTS

PLEASE HELP

The line of cars began to move forward

I turned left, not stopping for the man

Shame spreading down to my toes

In warm leather shoes.

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This experience happened to me last week as I was leaving the grocery store parking lot.  Why do I freeze up when I see homeless people on street corners asking for money? No matter what the backstory, these people are in need and they aren’t out stealing for it.

I live on a very modest income but I have enough to where I contribute to charities monthly.  Maybe it’s seeing the actual face of need in person? All I know is that I did not go back through the traffic but I am making a commitment to change.

I just started following a blog by Cristian Mihai. Cristian is a talented writer from Romania with some type of serious, ongoing medical issues that appear to keep him housebound. He has put out a plea for donations to help pay is medical bills after his attempt to sell reblogs & books has not been enough.  In a sense, he has put himself on a virtual street corner.  To be honest, that same morning I had read his post, I felt the same hesitancy as when I drove past the man on the street corner. When I got home I made immediately made a donation to him on his Pay Pal account.

Times are tough for many in the world, but there is enough to go around if the wealth is spread.  Cristian has over 120,000 followers.  If every one of those followers donated $.15, his 8,000 medical treatment could be covered.  I am humbled when I think of when back to when my son was critically ill as an infant. Friends and strangers stepped up to help out.  Generosity is something I need to continue working on.

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