Image above is an excerpt from my painting Haunted Ice.

There is no QA Spotlight guest for the month of April, so I figured I'd reach into my vault and share some special thoughts. This is based on an article I wrote some time ago, although I've polished it up a little since my audience has changed. As many of you have probably noticed, I am prone to dwell on the negative from time to time. As a writer, I have many complex opinions on a wide variety of topics. However, there is a time and place for everything. One need only turn on their televisions or internet to feel some misery, so instead of adding fuel to the many fires currently burning in the world, I'd rather share something a little more positive, something important that helps me return to center. It is an essay the art community might find useful – or not. Either way, it serves as a pleasant placeholder until I resume my interview activities next month. Please stay safe and enjoy…

Have you ever sat back and considered the greater context of what you are doing as a creative being? Have you ever taken a moment out of your creative process to contemplate the bigger picture, the magnetic reason you gravitate toward this unusual profession – this sensitive choice to be an artist, a creator of worlds? Have you ever marveled at this divine journey you have taken, this passion which defines your sense of humanity?

From that first moment your eyes laid upon those crayons, your mind was altered, the chemistry of your existence was stimulated by forces beyond your control. It's true. They were the first steps in a very long journey, a lifetime pursuit that would summon your greatest intellectual capacity. It is no happy accident that we find ourselves drawn to the canvas, to the chisel and stone of our minds, to the flowing words of poetry and prose.

What comes before us is an impulse driven from our years of experience, a special ingredient in our chemistry that demands our full attention, an oath to use our special senses to push the limits of imagination. We are artists, fragile beings, private in our very nature. We are driven to extremes, to points of anxiety and mental frustration. We are deep thinkers, fixated on the insecurities of our craft. Yet here we are, misfits searching for something greater than ourselves, for a delicate brushstroke that will unlock the secrets of the universe.

Art is not something we can live without. It is our second voice, an inner light that guides our willing hand. It is our therapist, our friend, our secret mistress on lonely nights. As artists, we measure ourselves through our creations, in the greater lens of how our work is perceived in society. For every painting we bare, every poem scraped from the bottom of our hearts, we are at the mercy of strangers.

We are naked before the mob. We risk the cruelty of trolls and fools, ignorant passengers who cannot appreciate or comprehend the values of our creative brilliance. They trivialize and marginalize, make rude comments, never once taking into consideration their own lack of intelligence or jealousy. What we choose is no hobby. Art is a passage through time, a growth process through life itself. From that first moment with the crayon until our dying breath, we live for our passion. We live to innovate, to consider new frontiers and limitless forms of expression, to harness an energy that only we can manipulate.

AlwaysBelieve

We may curse. We may scream. We may damn the very tools of our trade – but we love every single moment. We pride ourselves on commitment... on the time, energy and dedication required to create something magical. Our only hope is that others will receive our work with dignity and respect, that our creations will be reached by an open-mind.

The fact is, those countless hours must be worth something... the years of discipline and frustration, the solitude forced into our hectic schedules. That time must be worth every ounce of blood, sweat and tears, otherwise we may as well find another profession. It doesn't matter your skill level, the genre, the target audience… It doesn't matter how popular your work is, how much money you can earn, which gallery represents you. The only thing that matters is the happiness you gain from the creative process; the deep personal satisfaction of exploring your inner soul.

Art in itself is an abstract trajectory. For most of us, it is something we do beyond our primary, so it is best to remain humble in your expectations. Always work within your strengths to find that center of balance willing you to create. A masterpiece is only determined by your own perception. Do not wait to be discovered. Do not compare yourself with others. Just do your work and expect nothing in return.

If someone doesn't understand your objective, explain it with grace and move forward. If they still can't accept your reality, then don't waste any further oxygen – simply move on. Life is too short to second-guess your abilities, lest we accept the opinions or advice of those who know nothing. If success should happen to find you, accept these events as temporary blessings. There is always much more work to do on the flip-side of grandeur. Just realize that you will never reach the top of any mountain, rather you will gain experience and wisdom from the trek alone. The grand view from the summit will always remain fixed in your imagination.

Finally, should you ever find yourself drowning in self-doubt or insecurity, step away from the studio. Step away until that special urge compels you to return. You will almost certainly find a renewed sense of peace and energy brimming from within. From there your best works will clearly emerge. With that I wish you well on your journey. The world is a canvas set before you. Paint in misery or paint in peace – it's your choice. Either way, the power of what you choose exists exclusively in your hands. Have confidence in your brush, it will take you only as far as you allow it to. Peace out…

Great appreciation and respect to my good friend Gregory Proch, my featured QA guest for the month of March. During my quiet months off the social media grid, Greg was one of the few artists who encouraged me to continue on with this series. I thank him for his spirit, his warm personality, and his epic dedication towards every painting he creates. They are truly amazing. For the month of May, my next guest will be the delightful Iranian artist Marjan Samie. You will truly enjoy her eclectic works and her inspiring story as a creative designer. Following my interview with Marjan, I have three more scheduled guests before concluding the QA Spotlight series. Although there are countless talents out there waiting to share their stories, I feel that I have accomplished my objectives. It has been a bittersweet ride, but I truly need more time to explore my own craft. What comes beyond is another dimension, a time for me to dive deeper into that creative mirror, to finally become the artist and writer I was destined to be... I hope to see you all on that future endeavor.