With the Sochi 2014 Olympics taking over my news feeds and our national sport of hockey on the tips of everyone’s tongues, it is impossible not to be swept up.
Watching the Olympic women’s gold medal hockey game this past week, I found myself welling up and unleashing tears of joy and pride as the final goal was scored.
I have always felt the same level of emotion toward sport, as I do for art. Though I have not heard many artists speak of loving sport, or even participating in sport, I am sure there are a few out there that can relate.
I grew up with a jock Dad and an artist Mom. When I was a kid my parents worked different shifts, so that they would not have to pay for child care. I spent my days with Dad and my nights with Mom. My Dad is a jock, he played baseball, he boxed, played tennis…you name the sport and he played it, well. My Mom is an artist, she would draw and paint with me, like her mother did before her. I was playing softball, figure skating, swimming, playing tennis and on weekends I was drawing, making collage, listening to music and reading. I developed a healthy appreciation for sport and the arts and this combination of sensitivity and competition made for some pretty interesting emotions.
I grew to be very competitive, with myself, earning trophies in sport and awards in art. I just wanted to keep excelling, I craved the reward. What I came to realize is that my career as an artist was developing quickly on both sides of the brain; thanks to the competition, analysis and accuracy required for sport and the intuition, randomness and creativity required for making art. But, what I also realized is that art is not a race to the finish line and the reward is often in figuring out how to complete a piece and not something tangible. My discipline and determination to become the best artist, slowly morphed into the goal of mastering the mediums I was using and producing a solo show and a consistent body of work. The reward became exposing my finished work to an audience, where their eyes, their experiences and thoughts were in charge of completing the work. The audience was taking control of my crossing that finish line. I came to realize art is a long hike, not a race, where a baton must be passed in order to finish and the reward comes from the audience that views the work. So, I can train long and hard, I can put in the hours, I can paint my heart out, but no matter how well prepared I am, it is circumstances and things I cannot control that allow me to cross that finish line.
Being a sensitive, competitive has its rewards, but not all of them can be held in my hand, some must be held in my heart and in the feelings that I get when I see others view my work.
Will I be watching the men’s gold medal hockey game at 4am PST, just 12 hours from now? Hell yes! and I will likely be painting too.