I think I had better keep a daily blog for at least the next few weeks, as I go on through this America’s Got Talent evolution.
I’m in a holding pattern at the moment, waiting to go to New York City. I’m putting together ideas for what to do to somehow try and fill up the enormous stage of Radio City Music Hall with my JIMPRESSIONS.
And, it strikes me again and again how completely UNimportant what I do is.
I look at my talent a bit critically, I suppose, (though not as critically as the four judges that I will be facing in New York) and I also tend to look at things from the point of view of an oil painter. (My other profession, visual artist.)
When you are painting in oils, at least the way I was taught by the Spanish realist master, Miguel Argüello, you always put the same set of colors on your palette every day; it’s a kind of practical ritual. Two reds, two yellows, three blues, a few earth tones, maybe a green and plenty of white. (Black you don’t need. You can make a lovely black with a mix of Alizarin Crimson, Burnt Sienna and Prussian Blue; tube black is too dead looking or dirty.)
Maybe you work on a painting for three, six, nine months. How often does one actually use that second red? Or the deep brown? Maybe there isn’t much green in your subject, or you find that mixing your own green is better; so, what then becomes of that blob of Viridian you have been dutifully putting onto the palette every day?
It gets scraped off at the end of the day and put in the garbage. Somewhere, the owner of an art supply store smiles.
Some colors you may NEVER use in a composition.
Other colors are completely indispensable. White, Burnt Sienna, Cadmium Lemon, Cobalt Blue… you are crippled without them. They are the “Series Regulars” of the painting world.
Cadmium Orange, Lavender, Cerulean Blue… these are the “Guest Stars”, the “Day Players”. Low salary types, “working for scale.”
So, where in the vast palette of show business does “Impressionist” fall? Does he get loaded on every day only to be scraped off, unused at day’s end? Or is he so specialized that he sits patiently for years at a time in the box, waiting for the day when his tone and color are indispensable and nothing but his will do?
(Is it obvious I’ve been watching too many Woody Allen movies lately?)
My “Talent” is one of those things that I know delights audiences, and that’s what keeps me making noise, staying fresh and putting myself out in the spotlight. Is it so vital and necessary and indispensable? Well, when was the last time you said, “God! If only there were an impressionist around!”
So, I think it’s fair to say that mine is a very unimportant role in the game.
Sometimes, that’s an advantage in itself. Sheer disuse or unfamiliarity makes a forgotten skill seem amazing. The fact that “Impressionist” has dropped off the face of television almost completely makes it all the more wonderful when it pops up again, like some nostalgic magic trick.
But “important”? That’s a stretch.
Luckily, I have other roles, which at least a few consider as important, as I do. “Encourager of artists” is one that I think is still pretty vital. “Husband” and “Father”, the latter though perhaps dwindling in importance, are very important and NONE BUT I WILL DO. “Walker of Dogs” is apparently a very, VERY important post, and I get a lot of respect and encouragement there. If I neglect it, it costs me a favorite ball cap or a pair of shoes.
And of course I guess if you really want to be cosmically broad-vista’ed about it all, we ALL are important, as participants in a vast and infinitely complicated game, in which we are perhaps much more important or unimportant than we will ever fully grasp. But let’s not talk about that, for goodness’ sake.
YOU are very important, I know THAT. An idiot could see that. Without YOU… well, I don’t want to think about it!
But me- I’m not important at all, until someone decides that an impressionist is de rigueur, and then, I guess I’ll do until a better one comes along.
And then, I’m afraid I’ll figure out a way to imitate them.
Thanks for reading!
America’s Got Talent, Tuesdays at 9/8 Central on NBC.