How Do I Become An Artist?

Drawing by Bryan Murley

I wrote this in January on a Thursday at Open Mic Night, and then read it to the crowd before performing my song “Grow.” (see an early video for the song at the end of this post)

My favorite musicians have always been outsiders: Bob Mould, a pudgy punk rock screamer; Richard Thompson, A geeky, angular Brit; Ani DiFranco, angry femme folk rocker; Todd Snider, Stoner folk/Americana.

I never went in for the hair metal bands for obvious reasons.

But I was in a band, a band named Roadside Prophets.

The lead guitarist had perfect pitch. He had perfectly coiffed hair, and could pick up a song on one listen.

The rhythm guitarist, Mark, was a friend of mine. He was a country guy who was into guns and roses and could talk his way into and out of anything. Once, he was 2 hours late for band practice.

Mark complained that he wasn’t as good as Slash or Stevie Ray Vaughan. But he had the look. I mean, he looked like a rocker – tattooed arms, greasy long hair, lanky figure with a Les Paul and a Marshall half-stack.

I’ve never looked like a rocker.  I look like … a professor. So I was the bass player.

But I thought about something that I heard about Stevie Ray Vaughan, that while he was learning guitar, he would lock himself in his room for 6 to 8 hours at a time practicing.

I told Mark “Fine. You want to be like Stevie Ray Vaughan? Then lock yourself in your room for 6 to 8 hours at a time and practice.” You can’t be Stevie Ray Vaughan if you don’t have his work ethic.

Mark never did get as good at Stevie Ray Vaughn at guitar. He’d bought a bass fishing boat last I’d heard and was looking forward to spending time on the lake.

Last semester. I enrolled in an art class. I have always drawn things, mainly doodles in class, but occasionally I would try to do more polished drawings. In college I made a D in the only drawing class back in the stone ages the 1980s.

This time I decided I would work on it for real.

We have this perverse outlook and our culture that to be someone you need to play the part. We spend on exercise equipment camping supplies golf clubs cooking equipment all so that we can be a Golfer or a cook our camper or fit. And then that feeling that the urge passes and we have a cop closet full of once was that we will sell on eBay or send to the surplus store one day period.

But if you really have a passion for that thing it will come back. It will whisper in your ear and you’ll find a way to make room for it

Because you don’t need new equipment you don’t need a new outfit and a new hairdo. You have a voice, You can say sing. You have a pencil and paper you can be an artist

how do you become an artist? Start being

In life drawing class, we have been learning about subtractive drawing. That’s where the whole canvas is covered in charcoal and you use your eraser to reveal the areas where light hits the subject of your drawing. Someone told me once that you make time for the things you care about. Using the subtract process, take away the things that are hiding your light. Make time. Be.


So today I made a video for my new song, "Grow." I was originally going to just record me playing the guitar for some footage, and use another version I'd recorded earlier. However, the Canon t2i (thanks Brian Poulter) sound was really good, and the birds chirping in the background was a nice touch. So I kept it. The rest is mostly from Lake Charleston. Lyrics are repeated below.Gotta get out of this houseGotta make my waySun is shiningIt's a beautiful dayLeave the door openfor fate to say noIt's only when we fallthat we learn to growChorusAnd every time I'm fallingI'll think of you … and growSoul may be hurtingwounded pridepain in your heartthat's too much to hidebut it's not the endit really ain't soas long as you rememberto get up and gorepeat chorusNo it won't be easyIt'll seem too farbut everyone around youhas similar scarsjust leave the door openfor fate to say yesand next time you fallyou might be blessedRepeat chorus

Posted by Bryan Murley on Friday, July 26, 2013