As much as I love words and communicating, I have to admit, there’s more to life.

Why can’t things just be? Why can’t you just do something because it’s fun or it just feels good? You don’t have to explain anything to anyone if it doesn’t concern them. In the popular wisdom of the day: You are enough.

This especially holds true for art. Art can be many things. The most powerful art, in my opinion, is something that exists beyond words or rationality. However, since words and rationality are highly valued in our society, explainers of art, especially abstract art, are often at a loss for words or struggling for an acceptable logic.

A picture is worth a thousand words. But are a thousand words worth one picture?

I guess it depends on the words.

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I’ve been displaying my art on this website since its inception and I intended it to be as much about my art as about my writing. But I must admit, for the most part, I’ve been focusing more on my writing than my art.

At the risk of over-explaining, I’ve been focusing more on writing because of its contrast as a medium to art. I am fascinated by literature’s constraints, its various limitations: grammatical rules, schemes and conventions. I love using them, experimenting with them, playing with them, and (sometimes) breaking them. I look forward to share more intense, longer literary works with you in the months and years to come.

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That being said, there is so much art I’ve shared here that I’ve always wanted to talk about it! So here goes.

In the early 00’s I went to college intending to become a medical doctor. It was during an all-night biology cram session that I asked myself, why? Why wasn’t I doing what I actually loved to do instead? Instead of memorizing the life cycle of a tape worm, why wasn’t I painting or drawing to my heart’s content? Wasn’t it better to hone my natural skills and abilities rather than trying to fundamentally alter them?

So, I changed my course of studies. Over the next four years, I focused mainly on the Visual Arts. I was an eager and energetic art student. I spent hours every day practicing on different mediums and producing all kinds of art: charcoal drawings, paintings in acrylic and watercolor, sculpture, the list goes on.

In all honesty, my professors did not have high hopes for me, nothing about me in person is remarkable, and I was often ignored in the beginning. But I was used to this and actually learned to thrive with this invisibility. To me, it was like working safely hidden, in perfect stillness with zero expectations. They never saw it coming so to speak.

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When I first caught their attention with my work, they thought it as a fluke. But the “flukes” kept coming. If you will grant me a bit of “showing-off”, it was an especially bright time in my life, though short-lived, I enjoyed being the art class “superstar”. I would start work on a drawing in the morning. Always, in the beginning no one thought much of it, but a few hours later the entire class would be flocking around me, gasping and wondering how I did it. My favorite art professor, a great mentor of mine, actually called me a “genius”.

That’s quite a bit of “showing off” isn’t it? How does one ever come down from that high?

The answer is painfully. The fall always comes after the pride. My art career was short-lived, I simply didn’t have the financial means to pursue it at the time. After I graduated, I had to work to pay my debts and support myself.  It was working for corporations that I learned exactly how meaningless my art background was and how “odd” I was to certain people. Although I made friends with coworkers easily, the way I thought and spoke attracted ridicule. My art school star status was about as useful as an old, tattered magazine.

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That’s when I began seeing things in terms of “worlds”. Instead of condemning one group in favor of another, I started looking at things within their own frame of reference. There is the art world. There is the business world. There is the numbers world. There is the literary world. They often meet, clash, and interact. One is not necessarily better than the other. There are many things in the corporate world that I think would much improve the art world, such as marketing, targeting your audience and the importance of focus and brevity in your statements. And all forms of business could do with a lot more imagination and creativity.

But by far the most important thing I learned is the importance of context. In one area, you may be a star, in another you may be a dunce. No matter what, don’t let successes or failures get to your head, don’t become too attached to them. Yesterday’s arrogance will be today’s regret. In the words of Paul Walker (I’m not above quoting movie stars!), “Remember that no matter how cool you think you may be, you’re not cool enough to look down on anyone…ever.”

Someone you underestimate can and will surprise you, even if that person is none other than yourself.

alightcircleselfportrait3You may have noticed this is the picture in my gravatar profile as well. This picture is actually a self-portrait I did in pencil during my art school years. The reason why I chose this particular picture is because it’s not particularly attractive, I look androgynous, I think I look a bit like Oscar Wilde here! 🙂 But it’s closest to how I see myself! No other picture on camera or done by someone else has come close to that elusive inner sense of self. 

Text and pictures by M.P. Baecker.

33 thoughts on “On Art

  1. I was an artist in high school and started college as an art major. I too was a star in my class but, like you, I found little social status outside of class. Art, when being critiqued is both great and awful due to the subjectivity of the material and the sophistication of the critic. Writing is more black and white. At the end of the day I love them both. In fact I just bought a new pad and some pencils. I’ve been away too long. You’re a great artist by the way

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! It was a bright and strange time in my life, I actually thought at a certain point that if I stopped creating I would stop breathing, I felt like pure energy. I even got some work stolen! Literally! I guess people liked it so much they wanted all to themselves. It seems my life afterwards is trying to revive that pure feeling of creation. I hope I get there!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your artwork is SO stunning! Thank you for sharing your reasoning behind the profile pic. 🙂 I find it beautiful, by the way, simply beautiful. And I’m glad you feel compelled to write! Even if it is a pain in the arse sometimes, it is a process worth doing. And you have the most polished work I’ve seen!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Tom!!! These words really aren’t enough show my gratitude for your great support and encouragement brother!!! But I suppose there’s no harm hurling my words around trying to capture something precious in those untrustworthy invisible nets!!!

      “All paths lead to the same goal: to convey to others what we are. And we must pass through solitude and difficulty, isolation and silence in order to reach forth to the enchanted place where we can dance our clumsy dance…”–Pablo Neruda

      Liked by 2 people

  3. “I was often ignored in the beginning. But I was used to this and actually learned to thrive with this invisibility. To me, it was like working safely hidden, in perfect stillness with zero expectations. They never saw it coming so to speak.”

    I’ve heard it put this way by a TV/Movie star who did Vaudeville before going Hollywood: you need a safe space to fail. I think being ignored gives a person time to fail into their particular gift. Bravo for sticking with it! Your work is wonderful.

    “That’s when I began seeing things in terms of “worlds”. Instead of condemning one group in favor of another, I started looking at things within their own frame of reference.”

    Hard, hard lesson for me to learn: when and where to reveal my enthusiasm for various POVs. Scientists don’t care for Lit; Lit typically ignores Art; Art would levitate above them all. “Frame of reference” really brings it home. In physics, frame of reference means the difference between an object being seen as accelerating or standing still. They really are different realities locally, but all part of the same universe, globally.

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    • Thank you so much! I love your work! You have beauty, intelligence and emotions of rare depth to your words, it’s always a blessing to read them!💐

      Whenever I hear other people complain about how others perceive them (or don’t perceive them), I want to tell them my experience, especially when they think I’ve always had it easy or that “talent comes naturally”. I think a lot of people idealize a world free of adversity (I should know, I was once this way too). They think when the adversity is not there, then they will finally be happy or fully blossom, but I don’t think that will ever happen (and it’s likely not even a good goal). I think it is more helpful to use adversity in your favor and to see and seize the opportunities that come your way.

      It was a hard, hard lesson for me as well. Very painful to know how little people in other fields thought of art. I really felt like a light photon, in one room I was a wave, in another I was a particle, in yet another room no one could see me at all! Frame of reference is everything! But you’re so right, as much as they are different realities, they are part of the same universe globally! I recently watched a futuristic independent film made by an artist and I couldn’t help noticing that they did not understand physics or the technology used in space missions. As a result, I couldn’t “suspend my disbelief” and enjoy the film. I think a deeper awareness of this universe of other realities could actually strengthen talents, visions and statements instead of diminishing them as many fear!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. “Why can’t you just do something because it’s fun or it just feels good?”

    You can. Most of my professional life is badly paid, but it’s fun and I love doing it. When people ask or tell me “why are you doing _this_? Couldn’t you do something much better/more adequate to your education/more profitable?”, I just tell them “yeah, maybe, but what I enjoy what I do.” Some years ago I was worrying more about that, and tried to explain or give reasons, but not anymore.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks so much! I don’t know why, but I’ve always been wanting to explain my gravatar in particular! Some pictures I share here could do with a bit more explanation than others, maybe I’ll make it a yearly thing, going in-depth on certain pictures! I want the art world and the literary world to support and strengthen each other!

      Liked by 2 people

  5. MP the marriage of your talents is very welcome to me. I flit back and forth between realms too. Lately it’s examining words to their numeric values and art has taken a backseat. Such is the ebb and flow of creation. Thank you for all you are.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks as always for your beautiful encouragement! I’ve been noticing that on your website that you’ve been focusing on numbers. You’re right, there is an ebb and flow. It’s great to know yourself, follow your own interests and curiosity! It’s also great to share them with people like you!

      Liked by 2 people

      • At first my response was Why? Why don’t you enjoy it? Why do you feel compelled to do it? Then I realized maybe the answer is much more than a simple one, maybe even something you have written about before. Do you mean you feel compelled to write while sharing your artwork? My Why? is so much more than a wp response in your comment section, but I’d love to discuss it further…maybe you’ve written about it before?… In your first paragraph, you ask why things can’t just be. They can! FTR though, I personally am glad you feel compelled to write, your words are….hmmm I don’t have the word

        Liked by 2 people

        • Thank you! I love your comment! I don’t think I wrote about it before actually. My answer to your question is I don’t enjoy writing so much because I edit and reread my stuff a million times😂😂😂! At the end I feel like 🤮! That’s honestly the only reason why I hate it! I am a perfectionist but I can’t ever reach that error-free stage! Maybe it takes more time and practice… But everything else about writing I love: the possibilities, the range, the communicating, the rhythm, the poetry, reading comments like yours! You’re right I should just let things just be, maybe not overthink it so much, not constantly second-guess myself.😄

          Liked by 1 person

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