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  July 29, 2011
The Artist Inside of Us...


We are the music makers ...and we are the dreamers of dreams - Willy Wonka

Several weeks ago, I went to meet some old friends who were visiting from out of town.They were staying at a swanky hotel in the redeveloped area of downtown San Diego. As I walked toward their hotel, I noticed the beginnings of a large mural that was being painted on the side of an old brick building.

The artist had prepped the large wall by painting it all white which looked like a new canvas and was slowly adding details to the wall in various colors. In the center of the white rectangle was the outline of a large gray whale.

I happened to pass by this same building several times over the next few weeks, I watched as an entire underwater scene materialized on the previously blank wall. Seemingly each day, new features and creatures were added to the mural until the picture was full of life in every type of life form, plants, mammals, birds, fish, and sea creatures that just looked like plants but are really from the animal kingdom.

Now normally I wouldn’t have given the creation of the mural much thought except that I also recently was at a street-fair where a woman was creating a giant ice sculpture of an angel using a chain-saw. Carefully she lopped off chunks of ice as the angel emerged from the large solid block.

These two random events led me to the thoughts about the differences between sculpting and painting.

Painting is typically an art form where the artist starts with a blank canvass and continues to add paint until there is a picture. Sculpting, on the other hand, is starting with a mass of media (like marble, wood or in this case, ice) and shedding bits and pieces until the figure beneath the surface is released.

The biggest differentiating factor between painting and sculpting is that in painting, if you don’t do it right the first time, you can just paint over the mistake and do it again. Whereas in sculpting, once the material is gone, there is no way to replace it later on. The sculptor knows that mistakes can be costly (if not fatal). Therefore the utmost care must be taken to preserve what is left.

As I get older, I can’t help but think how some parts of our lives are like painting while other parts are like sculpting.

There are some elements of our lives where we simply start with a blank slate and continue to add things over the years as we grow older with age. Things like knowledge, experience, and personal relationships continue to grow each year we’re alive. Sometimes we add something to the picture only to paint-over the area with something else (this seems especially true with some of our relationships).

In contrast to the additives listed above, there are other areas of our lives that are eroded and lessened as we grow older. These things would perhaps include our good looks, our athletic abilities, and our overall health.

In our youth, many of these attributes acted as an outer cover and masked our true inner selves. As we age, we are left with the core of who we really are as the real person beneath emerges. No longer can we hope to succeed with only our "good looks and charm". We are all familiar with this person as our envy turns to pity.

Growing older releases the inner beauty (or ugliness) that is within us all. Substance and character are what we are left with once everything else is stripped away.

The truly interesting thing is that we are our own artists. We are the culmination of our own imagination and hard work.

We are the painters adding to picture each day (should we decide to do so). We have visions, dreams, hopes and goals of what we hope the picture will look like once the painting is finished (and hopefully it’ll never be truly finished). We decide what is right and what is wrong in the picture and hopefully work all of our lives in getting it just right.

We are also the sculptors who will create the person beneath the surface as time whittles away. Is there an angel in our ice or a Madonna or David in our marble? Will we be happy with the person we will eventually become or will we rue our mistakes?

Whatever we can dream...we can become.

Thank you for your support of OptiFuse as we support the artists in all of us.

Jim Kalb


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