Thursday, 17 February 2011

Actor, Artist, Writer, Painter, Ponce?

Tonight, not more than an hour or so after I finish writing this, I intend to practice my saxophone.

It will be the second practice of the week and, frankly, I’m hoping that tonight I will be more in the mood.

Half an hour, it seems, is not long enough: you’ve barely plugged the mouthpiece on straight in half-an-hour, let alone looked at all the pieces that you’re supposed to be learning, all the scales you need to practice and thrown in a bit of light relief with a bit of improvisation.

Tuesday night I wasn’t really in the mood: a couple of random squeaks that sounded like a badger breaking wind, half a song here and there and half the pacific ocean’s worth of spit and that was it.

But despite all this – I am really enjoying learning the Sax, and am starting to get reasonably ok (if you ignore the high notes), but does the fact that I now play guitar, keyboard (chords only), bass and sax make me a musician?

Well: no. I would argue not

I also paint. Well, I attempt to paint. I will be attempting to paint quite a bit next week when I have a few days off – assuming that I can think of a project (anyone who wants a free painting should probably leave a comment as to what they would like in response to this post)

I was, in fact, having a conversation with someone at about midnight last night who actually can paint – he was talking about how he experiments with colour and when I was asked if I did the same I was probably a bit over-frank when I talked about how depressed I had got each week on my last Life Drawing course (to the point where I was getting so stressed about my piss-poor results that I physically didn’t want to go each week)

Because although I like to paint, I am not ever likely to be accused of being a painter

Nor am I a writer, a photographer or a cyclist – although I do all these things.

I suppose the difference really is twofold. Firstly – one must possess a modicum of ability. Secondly – and here, I think is the clincher – one should be doing it for a living.

Take an example if you will: Deluded Talent Show Competitor – who on the third week of the competition starts describing themselves as an “artist”

You are not a bleeding artist. It’s debatable that someone who has been recording for 10 years and has a triple platinum selling album is an artist or not: you are definitely not.

So what then should be on my passport? I work in Admin Support (IT), but that’s a rather depressing thing to admit to the gallant men and women at passport control. What will it say on the plaque on the wall of the house where I was born: Don’t Feed The Pixies, inventor of the XXX, lived here?

Maybe it doesn’t matter what we call ourselves – I still enjoy doing these things (when not throwing my easel out of the window with frustration or shouting “It’s a bleeding A, you can see it’s a bleeding A, so why are you playing a bleeding D” at my saxophone), so maybe it doesn’t matter that I will never be a musician, a writer, a painter

Maybe just painting, writing and playing music is enough?


The Bug said...

I disagree that you have to make money at something in order for it be a descriptor for you. Talent, yes, and passion for whatever it is. My dad is a gardener - he doesn't make money from it - but he most definitely IS a gardener. But that's not all he is.

When asked, I tell people that I'm a Legal Assistant. That doesn't really say very much about me, but it is what I get paid to do. Unfortunately I don't really have the talent or passion for anything else to describe myself as such. Poet - nope! I know! I'm a listener to audio books! I do it very well & I have a passion for it. Ha!

Argent said...

I'm with bug: I don't think you have to be getting paid for something before you can call yourself a practitioner of it. If you play music, you're a musician. You may not be a professional musician but you are still one. Two practices for me this week. First one was mostly scales and a few apologies. Tonight was mostly pieces. Still struggling with my reeds at the moment for some reason.

Anonymous said...

We're all actors aren't we??

I love running but I wouldn't call myself a runner ... and like the Bug I am an outstanding listener to the radio.

But sadly I only get paid to Book Keep - which is the saddest confession I have read today!!

the watercats said...

*ohhh such deep deep chortle'ing...

Someone said once (I think, or perhaps I dreamed it) that it is much better to be a little bit good at lots of things, than to be truly great at just one. That way, you get all the same enjoyment from each of those things as an 'expert' at them all would get, but without being limited by them. Of course, this is absolute bollocks which people like you and I tell ourselves to make ourselves feel better... hey ho. some of us just don't have any particular destiny, ours is just to blunder about idly, swearing our frustrations to the world through blogs :-D

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Bug - i dont think its necessarily about the money. Lots of the original blues men never made a cent, but would still have been professional.

Equally though your job doesn't define you either - so i guess you are whoever you feel you are

Argent - Mark Knopfler is a guitarist, i play guitar. Phil Collins is a musician, i play music. I would hesitate to call myself a musician

Jane - someone has to keep the books, but i guess that doesn't make you a book keeper any more than playing guitar makes me a guitarist

Watercats - i wish i were focussed enough to be good at one thing. There's too many things out there that i want to try and so i end up being average at everything!

Michael said...

What to be, what to be? (Hands ringing.) I haven't resolved this dilemma in my own life, so I will refrain from giving advice. Except, don't believe everything you think.

Lydia said...

Hmmm. I must agree with the Bug and Argent, and gently disagree with you. From your posts in the past I would definitely think of you as a cyclist. You don't have to have been in the Tour de France to be one. Your amazing story that you ran in segments qualifies you in my mind as a writer. It didn't have to be produced between covers with a spine for you to be one. Your artwork that you have shared here sure qualifies you as an artist, not a major artist but a hell of a lot more of an artist than I am. You don't need to have had your work shown in a gallery and bid upon to be one. And you are definitely a musician, no argument there.

Here's an idea for a painting. Paint a scene from your story. Or paint your saxophone, perhaps personify it. Just don't paint yourself into a corner!

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

michael - good advice

Lydia - thanks. I have actually thought about doing a painting as a cover for a book. Maybe i should do that, but i'd have to find some models etc...