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Staying Within the Lines. What lines?

While some “tell all”, many others go to their graves with secrets. Because art is the business of ‘telling’ it’s also the business of defining lines and boundaries. Subconsciously maybe that’s what parents hope they’re teaching their children by giving them coloring books: stay within the lines. But what lines?

Now we find the difference between the self driven and others. The old saying is, “a strong person and a river make their own path”. Except that a river’s path is dictated by physics and geographical elements. Just like the lines in a coloring book, they’re set by someone else for you to follow, if you will.

An author, a visual artist, and (truth be told) any individual capable of self direction, will either accept known boundaries or adopt their own. It’s always a choice.

As an artist, I can depict whatever suits me. My particular preference is to celebrate joy and the inspiring parts of life.

I’d made a conscious decision that direction from the moment I realized that there was a choice. It was helped by the discovery of Kathe Kollwitz and her dark commentaries which were so well done. There must be such artists, and she was excellent. For now, I am not among them, preferring  to shine light more on the hope than the dispair.

There being so much among human interractions that descends beneath civility, I can certainly understand the temptation to reveal and comment. This has led to my producing political cartoons and fictional stories.

Reflecting on the quick cartoons I dashed out during the nineties, I’d forgotten how cathartic a voice they are. And if not cathartic, they’re something similar to other activities that leave one rejuvinated for a time. Like lunch.

While the cartoons I created to amuse and diffuse at work were funny, they sometimes caused a bit of angst for those who felt targeted by the humour. More so the closer to truth.

And no, I don’t believe smokers “go to hell” : ) that’s the problem with cartoons that touch on anyone’s own pleasure. It gets sensitive.

Now that I’m thinking about this subject, I realize that the setting of art related boundaries is similar to the volume settings on my phone. One for painting (ring) another for alarms (political cartoons) and others for the writing of “fictional” stories.

There is an over all setting that follows the “if it isn’t nice, or necessary, or true” model. But what needs to be nice, necessary, or true in fiction?

No, it just has to transport you to the right place.

For visual art, I stick with ‘nice’. Everything else including cartoons, story writing, music, etc., I stick with ‘decent’. Other than that, all bets are off.

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