Work Your Fingers to the Bone.

The country-western powerhouse Hoyt Axton and Renee Armand penned what could simply be a perfect song. What is a perfect song? That’s a big big question and it is not my purpose to discuss that here today. Maybe another time.

Work your fingers to the bone. Whaddya, get? Boney fingers, boney fingers.” The world doesn’t always see us artists as the most hardworking kids on the block. Conversely, many artists that I know will work manically to solve an artistic problem, like making a perfect painting. Not at all unlike writing a perfect song I might add.

In this ultimately sing-alongable homage to the struggle, the lyricists Axton and Armand also included this hopeful line, “Maybe things will get a little better in the morning, maybe things will get a little better.” 

Things might and then again, they might not.

Not to be a downer, but that hope makes me think of the number of times I have been struggling with a painting and I wrongly think that if I just keep moving enough paint around long enough that my painterly mess will somehow resolve itself. It’s a little bit like the mistaken idea that if one were to put 100 chimpanzees in a room with 100 typewriters that eventually one of them will write Hamlet.

Maybe it isn’t about just working our fingers to the bone.

Making art is work, and we definitely need to put in our time and do it. That having been said, there is much more to it than simply grinding it out. 

Each of us has a process by which we access our artistic realm that feels right and maybe more times than not it works out to render a successful outcome. 

For some, the process may include direct observation of nature, for others, it might their imagination, dreams, or even math. What inspires us and what helps us to be in the right headspace to create is so personal. It is a goal as important as learning to draw.

So, while I am likely to sing, “Maybe things will get a little better in the morning.” Like the songwriters of this perfect song, I think it is just an empty hope without the necessary intention and practiced process.

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