The creative doing.


One thing to keep in mind when going to NYC, is to saunter down Fifth Avenue but take a break at 88th Street and look ahead instead of up. You are in for a great surprise. You are looking at one of the many architectural wonders of the world. The Guggenheim museum. The architect was Frank Lloyd Wright who was 76 years old when starting to design buildings. He was 92 when he attended the museum’s opening. His creative optimism and output increased with age. So did the quality of his work.

Not that I have ever visited the US let alone that wonderful city of NY. I do still have hope that one day I will. There is something mesmerizing about a country of such contradictions. The enormous social inequality together with its much heralded dogma that America stands and believes in opportunity for all to become winners and successful, yet, millions live in abject poverty, with its obscene wealth in the hands of a few.

Against that they have Frank Lloyd Wright, Jackson Pollock, glorious music, painters, writers… and New York City. The very best anywhere.

While processing powers might slow with age, creative output seems to get enhanced in many artists. I don’t want to boost and bang on about creativity, but there wasn’t much else that I ever wanted to do but make things, either in material or by using words. Of course, my creativity wasn’t as urgent or as selfish that I also did not feel a need to earn the mulla in order to feed and house my family. I know that some that are really driven to creative expression don’t care if all goes to Braidwood Broke, but I was never in that league. Even so, earning money gets in the way if it also means ditching what you feel so strong about. A compromise is the only solution. Or is it?

Not for everyone though. I have always been fascinated about how that rare breed of artists that have managed to do and create art and have a domestic life. How do they manage and pay the bills?

Mind you, there are probably more stories about artists’ broken and chaotic lives littered with the carcases of broken relationships than ones about calm and happy families and their creativity still at the fore. Drama after drama seems to be the rigour for most artists. One only has to read the biographies of artists to really find out the struggles of their lives weathering many storms and tempests only to be cast upon the rocks of bitter disputes with shards of loves lived and left on desolate shores towards their final salt encrusted flotsam.

Artists from day one seem destined to either walk from one to the other catastrophe or chuck it in and get a job as an articled clerk or buyer for Walmart, at best destined to become a Window dresser fiddling with shop window’s dummy thighs, plastic-cast breasts, while dreaming of love and lust within the confines of a softness of real flesh and generous yielding thighs.

Even though I compromised and earned a living while also doing ‘art’ in leaps and bounds, my creativity can only be seen as spectacularly failing in having earned financial rewards nor much recognition. I was lucky having never heeded to much gloom or the creed of failure that implies money as the sole arbiter of success or indeed fame and recognition.

I enjoy the ‘doing’ and I get even more of a curmudgeon and impossible to live with, if a day or so goes by and I haven’t done something. It eases the pain or at least the frustration that wasting time brings. It also is of enormous consolation to realize that old Vincent never sold a single painting and for that he cut off his ear. The doing is the reward. Nothing or nobody can take that away.

13 Responses to “The creative doing.”

  1. Patti Kuche Says:

    Gerard, your last inspiring paragraph sums it all up so well – the satisfaction of doing, the frustration of not doing! Good to know you are working away and look forward to seeing some of your work. Until then, I shall enjoy reading the wit of a curmudgeon and of course can’t wait to see what you make of NYC!


  2. Lottie Nevin Says:

    This has been Irish’s and my problem. He writes about it in his Phd. I have never been able to successfully combine creativity with domesticity, I’d get stuck into something and then I’d have to break off to fed a baby, fetch a child from school etc so in the end I gave up – until now. Irish made a good living from his work for many years but then he had mouths to feed and so took to teaching like so many of his artist friends. We often talk about ‘what if’ he had ploughed on, what would have happened? so you are not alone Gerard. It is the dilemma of all artists, to stay selfishly determined in the pursuit of their own art, come what may, or to work in something else and hope to find moments to pursue their creativity. All I know is that when I don’t have time for my creative endeavours I get very frustrated, bad tempered and quite unbearable to live with and the same goes for Irish. Making things, makes us happy.


  3. chris hunter Says:

    Ahhh, the heart of the matter. Rembrandt’s most challenging work was his last – like Vincent’s final days, and Gauguin did say to him in Arles that in the end, if they just painted for one another – it would be still be worth it. Every reason to fire up the creativity in later years and paint/write for the sheer devilment of it.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thanks Chris. I feel bad not having responded to the blog where you write your brilliant pieces. I do enjoy writing my pieces and it is you and other respondents that makes it all worthwhile.
      We have been to Arles and looked at a front door where old Vincent used to live.
      I also had my hair cut at Pezenas in France at the same ‘salon’ where Molière had his hair trimmed as well.


  4. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    I stopped making sculptures when my girls were middle-sized and I really needed to add something to the family coffers and not leave my husband to do it all. Now our two girls are both in the arts (theatre and drawings) and we watch as they just about string the earning together with the creating. They are doing it very well and with some serenity, we just hope they can keep it up.
    Thanks for the music.


  5. petspeopleandlife Says:

    Older people can often prodcue what a youngster can not. This is brief info about one woman who was called Grandma Moses. She painted until she was 101 years old and was not discovered until she was about 76 or so. She had painted most of her life but never attempted to earn money. Someone saw her paintings for $3 and $5 dollars in a drug store. And things took off from there. Look her up on Google. It is an interesting story.

    A self-taught artist, Grandma Moses developed a
    distinctive style of painting, a form of Primitivism
    also referred to as naïve art or folk art.

    So, Gerard, there is still hope that your writings will be known one day. I sure enjoy your style of writing. It is unkike any other that I’ve read. I like very much what you write so keep it going. ~yvonne


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Thank you, Yvonne for your kind and ever so generous reply. I would be a hypocrite if not enjoying and indulging sometimes fantasizing about getting ‘fame and fortune’ in recognition of my work. I did know about Grandma Moses. A great inspiration.

      Even Mozart ended up in a pauper’s grave. Of course ,it helps to be realistic and avoid references to Vincent, Mozart or a Rembrandt.
      The reward is the doing, I reckon.


  6. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I was a window dresser while in high school, and picked it up later when I started my own business. I only stopped making sculpture when I had to get a new shoulder 3 years ago. That’s when I resumed writing. I still paint though I don’t show anymore. As you said, artists don’t do it for the money, though it certainly helps. We would do it anyway. It is part of our psyche like it or not. It’s almost like giving birth. You bring something into the world which wasn’t there before.


  7. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    I blush before unwarranted praise.


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