Maybe you’ve seen this popular Facebook meme asking how you like your toast:
In case you’re curious, I’m about a 6 or 7 on this scale. If I want toast, I want it well-toasted. I know, though, that it’s not healthy to go too far with burnt toast. There are nasty chemicals that form when starchy foods are burned to a crisp. And, for what it’s worth, I also like my bacon very well done.
So, what does any of this have to do with art? Nothing at all. But I was asking a similar question recently when I went searching for my new “word of the year”. You know how much I love randomness, how willing I am to trust my fate to some unknown factor. Sometimes a certain word begins popping up toward the end of the year. I see it over and over, and I know that’s the word I should choose.
That didn’t happen this year, so what was I to do? Simple. I turned to a random word generator, one designed to provide inspirational words. With gleeful anticipation of what my focus for the coming year would be, I clicked the link. I then blinked and sat there staring in disbelief at my “inspirational” word for the year.
Toast? What kind of word was that? And why was it supposed to be inspirational? I didn’t immediately see anything inspiring about toast — until I realized that I was looking at a verb, and not a noun.
It still took a moment for me to really see the inspiration here, but gradually I understood what my focus should be in 2022. The new year will be a year of celebration for me. That’s what a “toast” is all about, you see.
I browsed around a bit and found this helpful definition of the toasting tradition:
Toasting is a tradition of goodwill. Words are spoken and a drink is taken as an expression of welcome, or in honor of a person, group or occasion.
So, how can I apply this to my art? For me the answer is in the idea of celebration. Over the next 12 months, I hope to honor myself as an artist, to welcome myself to the studio each morning, and to celebrate each new thing I learn, each new experience, and each success I have. This all means being more accepting of who I am and the art I create.
I will no doubt make a lot of bad art in 2022. I’ve learned that bad art is a necessary part of my personal art process. I’ve found that making bad art has helped me immensely. Through bad art I’ve learned that it’s all right to make mistakes — everyone does — and I’ve found an incredible new sense of freedom. This, in turn, has led me more toward finding my own unique style.
I said I intend to celebrate my successes in art, and I will. But I think it will be just as important to celebrate my failures. Those failures are attempts at art. They’re evidence of my willingness to learn and grow, to take risks, to try new things. Surely that is cause for celebration, indeed!
Throughout the coming year, I am going to seek out every opportunity to celebrate. I’ll begin my mornings in the studio by making a toast to myself — I don’t drink alcoholic beverages, but a bit of sparkling water will be a great way to start each day.
A little more browsing brought me to a few “words of wisdom” that I might include in my morning toasts:
To be creative is to be in love with life.
Art makes you breathe with a different sort of happiness.
Creativity is a wild mind and a disciplined eye.
There are dozens more truly inspiring quotes about art and creativity, and in 2022 I’ll be surrounding myself with positive thoughts as I celebrate the joy of being an artist. For me, this is important.
Most people come to art at an early age. They have a natural inclination toward drawing and painting. They develop their skills as they grow, gravitating toward artistic expressions throughout their life.
That’s not how it happened for me. I was never an artist as a child. I struggled with any sort of visual art expression. It was only a few years ago — at retirement age — that I made the decision to learn to draw. I didn’t think it was even possible, but look at where I am today!
I have a lot to celebrate, don’t I! I’m going to celebrate each day. I’m going to celebrate each time I attend an art club meeting, each time I finish a painting, each time I add new art supplies, every time I enter an art show or put a painting on display. I’m going to celebrate my good drawings and my bad ones. I’m going to express my joy in watercolor splatters, abstract acrylics, and brilliant alcohol inks.
So join me now as I raise my glass in celebration of art. Hip, hip, hurrah!
Wishing everyone a joyous New Year!