From Small Things

You’ve probably heard the adage, “from small things big things one day come…” It’s as true in the art work as it is for this leaf. Not many out there start out with the intention of becoming a great artist, of making a masterpiece, of traveling the world, crafting images, becoming a visual storyteller. No, it usually starts small. You can hear echos of it if you read interviews with photographers, “I got my first camera when I was…” fill in the blank. “At first, I just started taking snapshots and over time I…” And so the story goes. Repeated more often than not, it’s a tale told by countless men and women of the photographic genre and even in the broader sense the artistic world. To put it bluntly, many a great artist or photographer started out making mud pies and refrigerator art just like you and me.

If it’s true that the giants who came before us started out small, then it also follows that they became giants somewhere along the way. Somewhere, in between the mud pies plus making art Mom might find suitable for the refrigerator door and the esteemed museum circuit or the hordes of Internet followers complete with piles of sales, why somewhere in-between this humble beginning and glorious triumph of artistic merit, something must have happened, no? I mean, you have to connect those dots somehow, right? Just think about what that connection might be for a moment.

Sure, there are many who have talent, yes, I’m not going to deny that. Talent plays a big role in what we do. But, for so many out there, talent is a mere starting point. It’s a foundation upon which to build, not a finished end game. There are many talented artists who never get discovered, who give up, who run away and join the circus, who…well, you get the idea. If talent is only a jumping off point then what might be the real thing going on here? I think a large part of what we do and who we are, in many ways our core success boils down to tenacity. The ability to try and to fail and to try again and to fail again and to try harder and to fail harder and to try and finally succeed is also echoed in many of those artist interviews. It happens over and over and I’ve seen it time and time again. The people who just don’t quit wind up getting the prize. Tenacity is one of the most underrated qualities in the art world. Everybody always thinks they can wake up tomorrow, paint some great masterpiece, finally be discovered, and that this formula for success is repeated over and over again. More often than not, it’s not the case. The harder you work, the more you do, the more you create, the more you devote to your craft, the better you get. As you get better, so too it follows, success seems to come out of hiding. It’s a path, a journey not a destination and one only you can tread to your own personal finish line.

In some ways, we’re all starting out. We’re all, each and every one of us, are getting better, carving out our artistic vision as we work. We are continually improving, even if it doesn’t feel that way. Sometimes, you have to step back to move forward. It’s all a journey. Art is a path. No, I would reckon there are no small things in art. There are simply buds that have yet to blossom. The little boy or girl making art for Mom to put on the ‘fridge door? Why, it’s just he or she is a bit closer to the beginning of his journey, that’s all. “From small things big things [indeed do] one day come.”

Until next time…

PS This one taken with the Canon over at the water gardens with a 100mm macro lens. Spring is on the way, as it’s starting to bud in my neck of the woods. I hope you’re seeing it too. Saw my first bluebonnet today. Woo hoo! 

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