A friend who had seen and read my blog commented on the title. “Since you’re saying that you’re an artist, will you be doing art from now on?”

Instead, I explained to her that the ‘colors’ on my ‘palette’ in the title are just the metaphors for the things that transpire in my day to day life.  “Yeah, I get that,” she said. “But still, will you be drawing and painting again and all that stuff, too?”

I smiled albeit ruefully, and answered the question in my head, “If only I could…

Back when I was in college taking up Fine Arts, I’ve already heard people say that once you have a job (that has nothing to do with art), you will not be able to practice your craft.  “It has to be art and nothing else.  You can’t have both.”

Years later, I became a teacher.  Now, I am realizing what they’ve been trying to say was really true.  I can’t have both.

The Muse is a jealous mistress. You’ve got to give her your time and full attention. Or else she will deem you not worthy of her gifts.  She’s The Diva.  A multi-tasker is definitely not her type.  It’s got to be her or nothing at all.

I am not a ‘weekend artist.’ I have bills to pay and have to stick with my regular job.  I’ve got lesson plans, remedial plans, cases to consider, and a master’s degree to finish.  My mind can’t be on too many things at the same time (‘Jack of all trades. Master of none’).  If I tried to work on something artistic or creative, like during the weekends, I either end up with mediocre work or work that was forever left unfinished.  And I would be miserable every time that happens.  So to avoid being sad about it, I just don’t.

But I remember one magical year. I was jobless. I was a free-lance tutor and did not have a boss.  I found myself writing stories.  I was also sketching and planning.  The ideas kept coming. I forgot to sleep. I missed meals. I did not even take baths!  I wrote nine and half stories. I made plans for art projects.  I was obsessed…And it was exhilarating!  The Muse was here!

However, it was also the time I actually experienced being a starving artist.  I ended up having financial troubles.  I had to hock my necklace just to get money to pay the electric bill.  It was that bad.  So I had no choice but to go and have back the security and comforts assured of a nine to five job…

Patronage of the arts is important in the history of art.  Throughout the centuries, wealthy people used patronage of the arts to endorse their political ambitions, social positions, and prestige.  And in return we get priceless contributions from the greats of the visual arts, music, and literature like Da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Shakespeare and Mozart.  There were attempts to promote the arts during the Marcos era but understandably, a country like ours that needs to fill its empty belly first, we scoffed at such attempts, shoving the arts into its perennial place in the backseat.

We all want to help our country be a better place for our children to live in.  It should also be a place worthy of our tears, pride and joy.  Showing it off to the world through our arts and creativity and culture is one way to do it. I lament the fact that there are hundreds of gifted writers, musicians, and artists out there, crying out and yearning to release their souls and be free to create and shine but yet are forced to work in a non-creative environment to feed themselves and their families (or leave for a place where they and their talents are more welcome).  The government has its hands full.  The corporate world (except for a few) couldn’t care less.

And if we do get a chance to practice the arts even ‘during weekends,’ what will be the outcome? In this fast-moving, materialistic, hi-tech, interactive, photo-shopping, multi-media world where people are running, rushing, altering, and multi-tasking, will we see mediocre works that are hurriedly done; or simply copied and altered from something that was available in the internet; or something cold and distant and impersonal and unoriginal and unreal–and yet passing it off as art? Should we settle for this than none at all?

The Muse is beckoning again.  She is angry and impatient.  And so am I… Please wait… just wait…

To be continued in the next post