The Artist's Journey: Why They Get It And You Don't
There is something about artists that makes the rest of the human race mediocre.
I mean these people can just sit, take some time, then miraculously transform their ideas into masterpieces. (Note: ‘Masterpiece’ can be quite the relative term especially since you can either like, dislike, not understand or misunderstand some forms of art).
Artists are the kind of people whose thinking can create a whole new world. Classic case of mind to matter.
And they make it seem so easy. They make it seem so effortless.
Then the questions keep going on and on in my head:
………How can a select group of individuals from the entire human race be so lucky? What or who creates them- moulds them? What drives them? What do they go through? How do they think?…….
My curiosity drove me to actually finding an artist. And not just any artist. The kind whose 24-hour day is structured into artistic time and the rest of the normal day.
I had to find out how that is possible and why it is possible.
Lorraine Amollo- Ambole is a lecturer at the University of Nairobi, a PhD student at Stellenbosch University in Capetown, South Africa, a wife, a mother and if that is not intimidating enough, she is an AVID PAINTER. She goes by the name Amolo Omolo as an artist.
Oh yeah…..in case I did not mention- she is also my elder sister.
Here is the thing: She got the big chunk of that elusive Art gene. Perhaps I got the leftovers.
That would be the best explanation I can conjure up to excuse my closet artistic talent or as I like to call it, Silent Artistism.
Classic symptoms? Haunting memories of drawing as a child and loving it, haunting guilt of not taking time to do/try it again, haunting knowledge that some of the art forms tried in the past were an epic fail, haunting realizations that the talent might as well be snatched and given to somebody else, consoling thoughts that perhaps you are just using that rusty talent in ‘other ways’.
Yep- guilty as charged.
For this reason, I had to get some answers, inspiration and perhaps even advice: ‘artidote’ for my(and many other people’s) symptoms.
Here’s the conversation we had:
Akumu: How would you describe an Artist?
Amolo: An expressive individual. Someone who is not afraid to share their passion.
Akumu: According to your description, can everyone be an artist?
Amollo: No. because not everyone is ready to express themselves openly. As an artist, one has to tell the world their story and be convincing about it. Not everyone can do this.
Everyone can be an artist but not everyone is.
Akumu: Hmm. Interesting thought.
Amollo: There also has to be the absolute love and dedication to the art.
Akumu: When did you know that you were an artist?
Amollo: I have known this on and off throughout my life. Sometimes I am an artist and sometimes I am not. I remember drawing as a child. I studied art and I have tried my hand at different forms of expression. But it’s only lately that I have truly discovered what I am passionate about: Painting. Now I have to stop myself from painting all the time because it’s threatening to consume the rest of my work…
Amollo: I go crazy about it….the hallmark of a true artist.
Akumu: I know that all children draw….so when do you think that you took the fork road towards being an artist and the others didn’t?
Amollo: When I decided to study Art and Design. I was lucky to have a supportive parent who let me pursue this career path even though I eventually went off on a tangent: I immersed myself into academics. So I have actually spent more time teaching Art rather than doing Art. I am trying to remedy that now.
Akumu: How did you succeed in getting to study Art and Design? Clearly one of the lucky few Kenyans.
Amollo: Aaahh…I told Mum I wanted to be an artist and she said ok so I registered for an art and design course at the university. Before this, I used to paint a lot but studying slowly moved me away from actually doing Art. I went into teaching and it is only now that I am truly getting back to what I wanted to do: make Art.
Akumu: Where does your inspiration come from? Especially during your ‘random’ painting spasms ?
Amollo: My work is inspired by my personal experiences and thoughts: The places I have been and especially the interesting people I meet. I am also strongly inspired by music. Right now I am working on the themes of rhythm and resonance which are inspired by Brazilian music. I was in Rio recently.
I love dancing too and when I paint, I want paint tunes and moves even though my work is very abstract.
Akumu: What do you feel when you are painting? What emotions, feelings etc. come over you?
Amollo: I get lost in the work because it consumes me. As I paint, memories of people and places become alive and I relieve those experiences on canvas. I actually have to force myself to stop because I can paint myself into a stupor.
Akumu: Haha! So do you know what you are going to paint as you sit down or does it come to you as you go along? Do you have a picture in your head or do you form it progressively?
Amollo: It depends, because I can’t paint all the time- so I sketch a lot on my notebook. When I get time, I paint from some of the sketches but the paintings differ a lot from the actual sketches. So really, the sketch is just a guide and is in itself a work of Art. Other times, I just start painting and the idea develops on canvas. I am never 100% sure what the final painting will look like when I start; which is good because I also get to surprise myself.
Akumu: If you were not a painting type of artist, what 3 other kinds of artist would you be? (In order of preference) Which classification would you personally use to divide types of artists?
Amollo: I would be a sculptor, jeweler or writer/poet. These are all art forms that I have attempted.
As for classifications, I do not care too much for them because all true artists have one thing in common: passion. How they express that passion is less relevant than the passion itself.
I, for one, identify more with musicians than with visual artists because I am more inspired by music than by other paintings.
Akumu: Hmm. Music is an inspiration. Has it ever appeared to be a possible option of expression for you? :p
Amollo: I can’t sing to save my life, so no, it’s not an option. I can dance, but I think painting is my forte.
Akumu: Nice. How would you advice other artists and closet artists (this includes myself) to find their forte?
Amollo: Look for something you love and you are good at. It should be something that you don’t struggle with, and that you don’t need advice about; it just flows. It took me years to find mine.
Akumu: Do you think there are enough artists in the world?
Amollo: That is a hard one. I think everyone should be an artist, so, no- there aren’t enough artists in the world.
Akumu: How could we make more artists for the world?
Amollo: The impractical way is to close all schools and let everyone do whatever they like (Then people like me would be out of the job). The practical (and viable) way is to introduce more creative opportunities into the education system.
If TV was banned then everyone would also be forced to find more creative forms of entertainment.
Akumu: Interesting. So you suppose artists are normal people who just make use of their free time to create?
Amollo: Yes. Artists create their own ideas, and for that they have to spend less time consuming the ideas of others. They also have to make good use of their time especially if they have other work and family obligations.
Akumu: Great! Thank you for your thoughts. Great stuff
Amollo: You are welcome
You can check out Amolo’s awesome work and subscribe for regular updates from her blog here: HTTP://AMOLOSART.BLOGSPOT.COM/
She is also on Twitter as @AMOLO_ARTIST.