The Wild in Ourselves: Making Art whilst Living in the Real World

Like the iceberg below the water, the hidden underneath of the theme "At Edge of the City Where the Wild Comes In", is, I think about exploring my relationship with the wild instinctual part of myself. I find this an uneasy relationship, but have decided it's better to work with my nature, rather than trying too hard to be more rational than I can be. Pursuing my passion for my art is allowing myself to follow my nature.

When I wrote a first draft of this post, it sounded a bit like my teenage diaries, full of angst, about how the modern world makes us sick and stressed and is not designed for the wellbeing of people. I think that's true, but it seemed a bit much - I'm so lucky - living in my modern world is wonderful in many unnatural ways - hot baths and effective medicine being two of my favourites. But, still, that doesn't mean that it is easy to grow happy and true and fulfil our natures in the world we live in, and that it couldn't be made much better.

Sketchings from the hedgerow edge

Sketchings from the hedgerow edge

Making art whilst living in the real world

My edge of the city

My edge of the city

Pursuing art is an small act of rebellion. It is the legacy of punk: making it yourself. We are educated with the aim of making us academically successful and then reliable workers. From this we get (if we're lucky), huge resources to spend on our very high living costs. But (I am embarrassed to admit because "everyone has to"), going to work seems a waste of my one life, so much so that I can't settle for it. In my imagination, the wiser elf-like humans of 200 years time, look back and say that office jobs were an abomination, a criminal waste of human life and spirit.

There are many initiatives which are about trying to make society a better fit for people: for example the happy planet index - trying to replace environmental and human wellbeing indicators as the main measure of progress, rather than money - GDP. And that's wonderful and I'd love to help change society to make it a better place for people (and me!), and I think art can be a part of social change, but irrespective of the world changing, I also need to make the best of my little corner for myself.

More sketchings from the hedgerow edge

More sketchings from the hedgerow edge

Making art is impractical: it is hugely hard to make a living from. At the moment I have to work, to pay the bills; but I need to make art to be me. So I do both part-time and everything gets squeezed. This seems ok, though I do really miss people who I don't see because I'm prioritising art over socialising. Since I started to put art first I feel transformed, making art makes sense to me at my emotional instinctive core, I have a purpose (when the art is going well anyway!).

So maybe, in summary, there is the practical aspect of trying to live a more natural life: that it is good for the soul, but it makes it practically harder to live in our world.

The deep fear I have about following my instincts and living more in accordance with my natural self is not from the practical difficulties. I am more frightened of going a step further into being my natural self and exploring in my art the bits of my nature I don't really want to look at: the anger, fear, irrationality, jealousy, manipulativeness - you know, those bits - which I wish would be civilised out ... for another post.

A little act of fox worship: detailed pencil study of a handsome devil. I'm going to need some foxes for my work on this theme. Based on a wonderful photograph by asbimages.co.uk