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Thoughts on art and meaning

pink green

To be honest with you I have been feeling pretty blue lately. I don’t really know why. Everything is fine. My book came out. It’s being received really well. I have other collaborations and projects on the burner and regular commercial projects are coming through. Still, I’m feeling the sort of existential void I think other artists must feel when big projects come to a close. I think it’s really hard to imagine how little of an impact we have on anyone or anything. We as humans are just tiny little dots on the earth among billions of others. I think as artists we have an illusion that we’re somehow speaking to other people through our artwork. Maybe we are but really it’s only for a minute. Sometimes I’m fine with nothing having any meaning and other times I’m trying to find meaning in small things.

I keep thinking about this poignant Faulkner quote I read on Brainpickings the other day.

Since people exist only in life, they must devote their time simply to being alive. Life is motion, and motion is concerned with what makes man move — which is ambition, power, pleasure. What time a man can devote to morality, he must take by force from the motion of which he is a part. He is compelled to make choices between good and evil sooner or later, because moral conscience demands that from him in order that he can live with himself tomorrow. His moral conscience is the curse he had to accept from the gods in order to gain from them the right to dream. … The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life. Since man is mortal, the only immortality possible for him is to leave something behind him that is immortal since it will always move. This is the artist’s way of scribbling “Kilroy was here” on the wall of the final and irrevocable oblivion through which he must someday pass.
-William Faulkner on writing

Above is a piece I did this morning just to move the brush around.

10 Responses to Thoughts on art and meaning

  1. heather October 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    Love how you quoted William Faulkner with your colorful circle. It reminds me of the circle of life and all the circles there within… the hills, the valleys, tide in, tide out, what goes up, must come down…
    “Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.” -Henry David Thoreau
    Relish your project and enjoy what it brings you daily. Life is a chain of circles as each will pass, take the time to enjoy each one thoroughly.

  2. Samantha Hahn October 4, 2013 at 12:01 pm #

    I love this Heather:
    “Life is a chain of circles as each will pass, take the time to enjoy each one thoroughly.”
    Thank you.

  3. Madeline October 4, 2013 at 12:06 pm #

    it is easy to feel this way as a creative person, but don’t fret. you really are so talented and brightened my day just by moving your brush around.

  4. Samantha Hahn October 4, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    Madeline, that means a lot to me. Thank you.

  5. shoko October 4, 2013 at 5:33 pm #

    i know what you mean, sam! no matter the scope of the project, your work inspires and reaches so many people – it certainly does me. you have a greater reach than you may know!

  6. Samantha Hahn October 6, 2013 at 9:46 pm #

    Oh thank you so much Shoko. You are so sweet to say that. I had a nice calm weekend and am now listening to Miley Cyrus over and over and feeling a bit better. ; )

  7. Christine October 7, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    As an artist, the feelings must be harder to overcome because you are putting yourself out into the world open for praise and criticism. I’ve felt the same sort of void after working on large business contracts; after the contract is closed, I find myself in a void of sorts. I think part of it is the constant phone calls and emails and paperwork is wrapped and the people I’ve come accustomed to speaking with daily are no longer there. All the niceties and the dependence are gone, really, like the end of a relationship.

    Your new book is gorgeous. Buying it for my little niece so we can read it and discuss the lives of the ladies in your beautiful paintings.

  8. Samantha Hahn October 7, 2013 at 11:42 am #

    Thank you Christine,

    Such a good way to think about this. I am feeling a bit better after a week of wallowing. I think I have some good stuff on the horizon. When one door closes, another opens. Life ebbs and flows. I just have to remember that when another project ends.

    I hope you and your niece enjoy the book.

    Love,
    Samantha

  9. kim October 8, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    makes me think of my favorite Rumi quote: “You are a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” I keep it in my studio. Hang in there!

  10. Samantha Hahn October 8, 2013 at 7:29 pm #

    Kim, what a beautiful and life affirming quote.

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