Passion drives artists to create. Whether you’re sketching, sculpting or writing there’s a drive behind your creation. Urgency and intensity spark the initial act of creation — like the first outline, first draft, or first few sketches. The artist finds within themselves a burning need to tell this story — for it steals their sleep and demands to be wrenched from the soul like a tumor that will eat them alive if it remains where it is.
Or, maybe the artist just had a neat idea they thought they’d scribble down. You know. Whatever.
It’s interesting to see how different people deal with their passions — especially because it doesn’t correlate to being introverted or extraverted.
Some folks have a narrow range of passion. Happy or sad, it never gets too intense. If a family member dies, or there’s a setback at work, they’ll shrug their shoulders and say, “Oh. How sad.” If they come up with something really great, or their kid gets a scholarship, they’ll nod and say, “Oh, well, that’s great!” It’s not that they don’t feel. They’re not boring people, they just have a narrow range of passion. These folks might have a more intellectual grasp on life that gets mistaken for stodginess.
Those with a broad range of passion are much more expressive. When the store’s out of the right brand of chocolate, it’s a tragedy. When their kid has a bit part in the school play, it’s a triumph of which they’ll sing for a thousand years. Bad news will lay them low for weeks. They express their feelings with the utmost extravagance — even if they’re introverted. No matter what they feel, they feel it deep into their bones. These folks (and oh boy am I one of them) fit the Tortured Artist stereotype, and can be needlessly dramatic at times.
These two types often find each other unrelatable and frequently clash. To pick a musical example, Demi Lovato popped up on my Pandora this morning. She’s got a loud, powerful voice. When someone sings a well-known song the way she does, there’s always a backlash. Folks with a narrow range of passion would prefer to hear “Over the Rainbow” or “The Star Spangled Banner” in a more traditional, less vocally acrobatic way. As someone with a wide range of passion, this response irks me. Let her do what she wants. Not everyone needs to rein it in to the degree of, say, Blossom Dearie.
There are times — rare, precious times — when the two ranges overlap. Ella Fitzgerald can slip a needle directly into your heart and fill it with longing. A song doesn’t have to be bombastic to achieve intensity. It’s subtle and understated which satisfies one group; yet overflowing with passion that could make a grown man cry… if he were the type to do so.
It’s interesting to think about where you fit on the spectrum of these two types. How much intensity do you infuse into your life? Do you prefer an even keel in your life and your entertainments; or do you want to ride the full height and depth of each wave? For myself, I find that I have such a broad range of passion that I must compartmentalize my life into ‘safe’ places and places where I have to keep it in. I constantly try to identify which type someone is when I meet them, in order to figure out if they’re “safe.” I want to know the best way to relate to others.
In art, as in life, it’s vital to consider why the Other behaves as they do, so we can hear and be heard with the greatest clarity.
“I heart you.”
“I heart you? What is that? ‘I love you’ for pussies?”
– Jenji Kohan, Orange is the New Black