Honesty In Your Art

I recently wrote about the office BS’er and honesty.

We all know what honesty is and about being honest, telling the truth and doing the right thing. But over the past year I have come to a better understanding about honesty in your music, your art, etc.

Having been away from the music business for so long and having put away any innate creativity the desire to create became pent up inside me.

Here I was in the hardware distribution business.  Your best bet at being creative was working up data and trying to display its meaning as simply as possible.  Sometimes you were lucky to get to work on short term and long term business plans.

You could get somewhat creative when writing internal memo.  But time constraints and the fact that clear and concise communications is extremely important left little room for poetic license.

It was challenging but boring from a creative stand point.Cabinetry

For a leisure activity I concentrated on woodworking.

I made tables out of old doors, weathered oak fence posts and boards.  I made cabinets. I carved duck and fish decoys.  When I think about it I’m pretty lucky to still have all my fingers.

DuckDecoyAt the time I was doing all this woodworking I didn’t realize that I was releasing a pent up desire to create.  To me it was being practical, saving money, getting custom furniture and relaxing.FishDecoys

What I was doing was for me, my designs, my methods, my satisfaction.

Of course I wanted people to like it.  Who doesn’t like to have  a compliment thrown their way and a piece of their work admired by others.  But the bottom line was it was to satisfy me first.

So what I was doing was very honest work.  It was what I felt, what I believed, what came from me and what I put into my work.

When Eric Clapton released his album “Old Sock” it was the first album in years that I bought on the release date.

I bought it in the CD format so I had no preview of the work.  So the first time I sat down to listen to it I was surprised by the different styles.

To me it wasn’t Eric Clapton from any of his previous albums, but a new amalgam of all his years.

It was as if he sat down with friends and played what he wanted to play for himself.  It was relaxed as if the entire band were sitting in my living room playing for the shear enjoyment of the moment.

Shortly after listening to the album I called my friend Barney Lee who is a big fan of Eric Clapton.  I was excited to discuss with him my thoughts on this album.  I told him that I felt like it was Clapton saying I’ve done so much over so many years this one is for me.

I specifically  remember Barney saying its “honest” and then I thought that’s it, that’s being honest with your music, your art.  It’s Clapton doing this totally for himself who is probably his biggest critic.  And it’s great because it’s honest.

Of course in the world of contemporary pop music you see a lot of “artist” who lack that honesty.

It’s not that the music isn’t quality music from a technical standpoint, but it lacks the quality of being done for an honest individual release of creative energy.  It’s formulated to sell.  It’s like the data I would review to determine what products in my line to I need to push.  It’s a creation of a product not the product of a creation.

You can be very creative within a formula or you can be constricted by the formula.  Therein lies the art.

Breaking the formula for the sake of breaking the formula doesn’t make you clever, or creative and it doesn’t make it pleasing to the senses.  It’s not honest and it just makes you a formula breaker.

If you are honest with what you are doing, feel what you are doing, your results will be very gratifying to you and to those who experience those results.

© Otis P Smith and About the Groove, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Otis P Smith and About the Groove with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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