“When I have neither pleasure nor pain and have been breathing for a while the lukewarm insipid air of these so called good and tolerable days, I feel so bad in my childish soul that I smash my moldering lyre of thanksgiving in the face of the slumbering god of contentment and would rather feel the very devil burn in me than this warmth of a well-heated room. A wild longing for strong emotions and sensations seethes in me, a rage against this toneless, flat, normal and sterile life. I have a mad impulse to smash something, a warehouse, perhaps, or a cathedral, or myself, to commit outrages, to pull off the wigs of a few revered idols...” ― Herman Hesse

Ah yes...PASSION!

“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” ― Mark Z. Danielewski

Passion has been on my mind lately. It has such a lovely range of meaning and connotation. The joy of love, the clarity of hate, and the ecstasy of grief...all born out of the inner howl of passion. One of my favorite definitions comes from the Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary where among a number of explanations it simply says: "the emotions as distinguished from reason".

We had an "artist's talk" at the Gallery at 105 back in December which like most artists, I generally don't care for, but as I listened to the other's speak I found myself becoming more and more enthusiastic about what they were saying. And what got me going was that each one sort of skipped through the "mechanics" stuff and spent most of their time talking about their individual passion for art and recognizing that it fills their lives, even in the most mundane moments of their daily existence. For the first time in my 30 plus years of being an artist, I felt like I belonged because even though each stated it differently, they all said the same basic thing that they were driven by passion to make their art. It was an instance where I was reminded of why I create art that came from the perspective of others. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Passion can be like a loaded pistol. You have to be careful with it because misdirected passion or passions that boil inside without a positive outlet can cause immense chaos not only in your life but in the lives of innocent bystanders, it's that powerful. My salvation was finding art as the outlet for my passions, the ones that if not properly directed can became at best troublesome and at worst, dangerous.

But once I discovered creating it, I found: 1) there are no fences 2) it's uniquely individual 3) it's completely personal 4) it is the intuitive voice of my soul. 5) a quiet joy within me that makes me feel whole. Those things work very well with who I am.

In creating my art and I had found a positive direction to channel the relentless howl inside me.

I've often thought that had I not found that outlet when I did, I would have lived a life of frustrating torment or maybe ended up in jail both or worse, who knows.

What got me to thinking about all of this is that not too long ago I started to question weather or not I was losing my passion to make art. I just felt that I was no longer experiencing the same wild eyed exuberance in my process and it started to really bum me out. I was confused as to what had taken place to change the very dynamic that had ignited my imagination for so long.

Then I realized that a couple of projects I was very passionate about got sidetracked by forces beyond my control that had nothing to do with my Art. And while not everything had been perfect up to that point, I always felt I was surging forward on the strength of my passion.

What I didn't realize was that the overall effect on me was that I had lost my magic and felt no longer relevant. I really struggled with it. If I can't tap into my passion and go all out...well then why go at all? It's a formula for devastating frustration.

In all my years of being an artist I'd never felt that empty or clueless and I started to question everything. I scared myself with long held fears of where my unfocused passions could potentially lead me. Doubt can kneecap you.

Then when I heard those other artists speaking last December it very much helped me put things back into perspective.

Eventually, I decided to tear away all the built up BS that has nothing to do with my basic, head to heart to hands approach. Now I'm creating work with the simple premise of the joy of art itself.

Everything else can kiss my grits. So if that means only very select projects and small pieces that speak straight from my gut then, so be it, I welcome them. I'm getting my verve back and I feel really good.

As I said earlier, misdirected passions can be as dangerous as a loaded pistol and I've learned that whatever transpires to never point them at anyone, especially myself.