So what is 12 hours?
Ticks on a clock?
A really good night of sleep?
Yes, it is all of those things and so much more. When I started painting, the idea of someone owning or purchasing my art always kind of aggravated me.
“I like that painting. Can I buy it?”
A few years back I would get the question quite frequently, and it always resurrected the same ghoulish feeling. A feeling that I can’t quite describe but could possibly be a long lost cousin of stinginess.
This feeling has razor sharp claws and the demeanor of a fat mean cat. The fat cats that only let their owners pet them, and as soon as another hand comes… you guys know what happens.
Like a dadgum ninja.
The fat cat strikes and then immediately goes back to comfortably purring in its owners lap.
And as much as I dislike cats, I guess I’m not so much different when I feel my time being infringed upon.
But what I have realized is that I am doing it all wrong. I always say that being an artist is special because each day I get to create something that will outlive me. It’s a great feeling. But I have been too focused on the actual painting that I will leave. My art is more than just paint and canvas. That’s what makes art, well…art.
Because art is time.
And time fills the treasury.
It is someone’s existence wrapped and packaged for purchase in the form of something tangible.
And Scrooge McDuck doesn’t like his pile of time being fooled with. Each and every coin matters, because it is his.
Recently, someone inquired about a commissioned piece of artwork that they wanted done. I told them the price, to which they replied, “That is a lot of money for a canvas and 12 hours of time.”
And then it happened. Like the Snickers commercials where the guys turn into divas. I transformed into a fat cat, then hissed and swiped.
“Ma’am you aren’t just buying art. You are paying for the years I spent to learn and acquire my skills, to learn how to create the product that you want. You are paying for my ideas. You are paying for a part of my existence. My art is part of my existence in the form of a clock that resets each time you, or anyone else, looks at it or enjoys it.”
That was the thought that shot through my mind. And it got me thinking.
Why am I so stingy with my time?
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with being selective over your time.
But if I want to truly leave my best here when I am gone, I have to give. My art is my time. But, in a way, the minute someone purchases it or I price it, it is no longer as valuable to me.
For the consumer, art only appreciates with time.
For the artist, it deprecates the instant they put a price on it.
Because their art is their time.
And time is priceless.
That is why time fills the treasury.
And I want to leave my best.
So my best has to be for free.
It has to be given.
Because only the best things you have, will you ever view as priceless.
This is why I feel most fulfilled when volunteering my time. In that moment, I am giving my time away in its purest form, I am giving the best I can offer in the only way it can ever be given.
So back to 12 hours. It is so much more than just 12 hours when given for free.
It is a memory. It is a feeling. It is a legacy. It is a hot meal for someone less fortunate. It is helping pick up trash. It is giving someone a ride who doesn’t have a car. It is going to a nursing home to converse with the elderly just because. It is giving away your most valuable skills because they are yours to give.
Simply because you can. And that’s it.
Within your most valuable skills, lies your Treasury.
And that is what must be emptied to leave anything worthwhile. Because everything else will fade away. But the contents that once filled a now empty Treasury will always help people realize that they too have one. And when the time comes, it will prompt them to empty theirs as well.
And that is lasting.
Spend 12 hours. It is 43,200 clicks on a clock. It is waiting in traffic. It is heating up a TV dinner. It is boring. It is mundane. It fades.
But give 12 hours, and part of you will get to live forever.
The simplest concepts are often the most ironic.
If time fills the treasury, then the richest of us all have nothing. And the bum on the street with an empty vault is King.
For 2014 I wanted to challenge myself. Well, let me rephrase that. I have been convicted of the very thing I just explained, and have decided to act on it.
So I am giving away 12 hours.
Once a month for the entire year, I am going to give away a piece of art that I spend exactly one hour on. I’m giving it away randomly and completely free of charge. There is no rhyme or reason. It is simply me giving my best.
My challenge to all of you that read this is to find a way to give 12 hours.
12 precious and priceless hours of existence.
The series of art I will be doing is simply called 12 hours. The paintings are not planned. I don’t have any idea what I will paint. I’ll just sit down and make the very best art that I can in 1 hour, and then give that away for free.
Doesn’t the phrase, “Always give your best” mean something entirely different now?
I’ve been trying to “spend my best,” and vintage bubble gum machines don’t take debit.