Art, like all the most important disciplines which shape our world is really a form of sophisticated play. Like any play, when pushed to the point of obsession, it can create magic.
Play is how we learn. When we want to learn to build, we play at building. When we want to learn to fight, we play at fighting. When we want to learn to love, we play at loving. When we want to learn to cook, we pretend to cook and go through the motions. Acting, reading, writing, cooking, loving, art-ing, music-ing, praying, meditating, science, mathematics are all really at their base forms of play, when properly applied.
Today somebody asked me how I learned to use my computer so efficiently and I told them this: I played with it, like a toy.
They said “weren’t you afraid of breaking it?”
I thought about people who buy toys, not to play with them, but to keep them in the box just in case they are valuable some day.
I thought about my first “real” guitar, which I used hard for the twenty years I had her, playing daily in sometimes awful conditions (i.e. a subway station when the temperature there was 20 below, or a street corner when it was 110 degrees and very humid.) I made a lot of music with that guitar, had a lot of fun with her, made a lot of money with her, and finally mourned her like a sister when she was gone.
if you are afraid to play with your toys, you get no value from them. Even breaking them can teach you things. Sometimes when things break and we fix them, the fixed version has more meaning, or works better.
Why own a painting if you are going to keep it in a vault?
Why make a painting if it is going to be kept in a vault?
Who do I paint for? Sometimes its just for me. Sometimes its for somebody who wants to put my paintings on their wall. I like to see paintings hung in houses, in living rooms surrounded by house plants or next to the television, in bedrooms with a small lamp next to them, on tee shirts and hats and cups and floors. But most of all, I like it when art is used.