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Be a Student of Life


Being an artist requires being observant about life and drawing insights that can be shared with your audience.

If you've seen my blog post Art for Brokenness, you'll recall I mentioned that artists provide their audiences with enlightenment about life. This requires that you know stuff about it and have drawn some interesting insights from it. I often think that I'll be a better artist as I grow older because I'll have experienced more life.

I was reading the screenplay for the film, Her, the other day and I was fascinated at how insightful the writer, Spike Jonze, was about the painful dynamics of love and relationships. He was able to communicate it in a new way I hadn't heard before and I found it enlightening and cathartic. When I looked at his bio I realised that he had been through the ends of some meaningful romantic relationships, and it made me wonder how his experiences may have shaped his writing.

But what if I want to be a good artist today, and don't have age and experience on my side? How do I make up for that? I was once given great advice by a producer on this that an artist needs to be a student of life. You can draw from observation of others' experiences and others' worlds. What does this involve? Read (fiction and non), go to the theatre, watch movies, listen to different types of music, spend time with different types of people, observe and listen to people in public spaces (observe how people never say what they mean). There are many more ways, but this is just a sample of the types of "Life Study" that can help bridge the gap in experience.

I was listening to an interview on Classic FM the other day with an author of a book about cross-cultural adoption. I haven't read it myself, but according to the interview the author mentioned that although she hadn't adopted a child cross-culturally herself, she had counselled many people who had and listened to their stories. Through that, she was able to share her insights in the form a fiction story. And hopefully, many adopting parents and adopted children in cross-cultural situations will find some kind of catharsis from her book.

Till next time...

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