The artist is usually a sensitive person. If he didn’t start out that way, his study of things outside of himself, his desire to understand others, whether people, living things, or objects… in order to paint them or describe them well hones his sensitivity, his empathy… and eventually even leads to wisdom. There are would-be artists who never reach the heights of producing truly meaningful art. But they are usually able to enjoy some of the advantages of the art world, by contributing according to their own talents and skills, and having a part in the community of artists. And there are those who were not born with exceptional talents, but have worked to improve their abilities, and reached high levels of accomplishment. Art is always a lot of work. I have known some ego-maniacs among artists. But that is not the rule. And most common among the great artists, is a sense of modesty about the act of creation, and about the work of describing the world around us. For in concentrating on the world around us, we become aware of our own limitations… and our own significance in the weave and texture of the world as a whole.
What usually makes a work of art unique and important, is a universal quality which transcends the specific nature of the subject on which the art is focused. Since everything in this world is interconnected, as my friend Janet likes to remind us, once the artist reaches the ‘truth’ of his subject, he touches on a nerve that runs through all of us. And then, a visitor in some dark dank museum, on a guided cultural tour, will look at the hands of a seamstress in a painting on a wall, and say to himself, in an unheard whisper, ‘that guy has been reading my mail’. The work of the artist will have relevance to the random passer by… because he has touched the universal.
Personally, I am an emotional individual, and highly romantic as well. I soar in the heavens with enthusiasm, and plunge to the depths with disappointment or the knowledge of pain… or the miscarriage of justice. But when going out to study the world, I keep my emotions in check, as much as I can. I prepare my tools for any eventuality. I try to clean my mind of any superfluous feelings or thoughts. I am a student preparing for his study. I have no expectations whatsoever. Often, I go off on my adventures with a friend, or student. It is good for me to have someone along, to keep an eye on me. Because, once in the stream of an adventure, I can get completely lost. I can forget to protect myself, to eat, to drink… to worry about banal needs. But though I have gotten into trouble occasionally, even when I go off by myself, I usually return in one piece, happier and richer from the adventure.
We are now in the middle of spring and approaching summer. This is the season I like best for my art. But the weather can’t be taken for granted. There is the sharav, which blows a hot dry wind from the south and the east… sometimes carrying tons of dust from the far away deserts, disintegrating the visibility, and at times, making it hard to breathe. With the passage of time, the highway has become ‘better’, enabling faster traffic, but also insulating the traveler from the countryside. It is getting harder all the time to get to know the simple country. Just as these super highways have blocked the paths of little wild animals, and bugs and insects… they have also disconnected human beings from the personality and the nature of the land we live in. And there are school trips and tours for the tourists who wish to see the most beautiful places in the country. These are to be avoided at all cost. They make a lot of noise, and spread a lot of garbage around. Nature goes into shock in the presence of such intrusions.
But I am stubborn. And I have single-minded purpose. My desire first and foremost, is to step outside of myself, and enjoy the world around me. If I find pictures that reflect the qualities I most appreciate in this world, then I have succeeded. If I find only one picture, in an adventure that will take days and cover many kilometers, that too is enough. I am already beginning to feel the excitement. Best to keep it in check.