Friday, September 5, 2008

Art is My Drug

As I sit here at the confuser, I have a TV tuned to VH1's "Drug Years," a set of programs about the late 1960's-'70's and the proliferation of marijuana, LSD, speed and other stuff that became popular among the hippie culture. The programs bring back a lot of memories for me.

By 1968, I was already a year out of high school and was beginning to take on the look of the "hippies" I knew in community college. (The look eventually evolved into biker dress without the gang colors of Hells Angels et al). Many of the people I hung with used drugs; yet, for whatever reason, I didn't get into that stuff myself. Well, OK, I took ONE puff on a joint out of curiosity about the taste and how it felt to fill one's lungs intentionally with smoke. That was it. I've sometimes wondered why I never got caught up with drugs as others around me did.

I only thing I can figure is: I'm a rebel. Always have been. I wouldn't be an artist today if I wasn't willing to break away from convention and do something like that, especially when some people tell you "you can't make it as an artist." That just makes me want to prove them wrong.

I seem to rebel against whatever is popular, whatever the status symbols are, and -- of course -- the status quo. When the movie, "The Titanic" came out and it became such a hit, I made it a point NOT to see it. When SUVs became the rage, I hated 'em -- and still do. And when people tell me to accept things the way they are; or to take the safe, easy way -- hey! I'LL SHOW YOU!!!

And drugs and alcohol. Using them never struck me as being a very bright thng to do. I saw people who were out of control and acting stupid. I hate being out of control and acting stupid. I need discipline to do art and to grow in it, even when I wasn't that self-disciplined in the late '60's-early '70's.

I'm sure my rebellious nature has caused me a lot of problems over the years. But it also saved me from the negative consequences of using drugs.

Besides, art is my drug. Nothing else can compare to the high I get when a painting is turning out better than I expected. I'm not sure if art is cheaper than drugs, but I have something to show for it when the high is over. That works for me!

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