Anna Hergert, Art & Design

To Summon the Courage to ‘Sit on One Chair’

Red ChairSusan E contributed to my quest for questions with this: Over the years I have tried many different creative outlets but have mastered none. I am reminded of a story about Luciano Pavarotti that I’ll paste below. My question is how do you know where to put your time & energy? And how do you summon the courage to ‘sit on one chair”?

I”n a Guidepost story, the world renowned tenor Luciano Pavarotti shares a story about growing up in Italy. “When I was a boy, my father, a baker, introduced me to the wonders of song,” he relates. “He urged me to work very hard and develop my voice. Arrigo Pola, a professional tenor in my hometown of Modena, Italy, took me as a pupil. I also enrolled in a teachers college.
On graduating, I asked my father, ‘Shall I be a teacher or a singer?’ “Luciano, my father replied,” if you try to sit on two chairs, you will fall between them. For life, you must choose one chair.” I chose one. It took seven years of study and frustration before I made my first professional appearance. It took another seven to reach the Metropolitan Opera.
And now I think whether it’s laying bricks, writing a book—whatever we choose—we should give ourselves to it. Commitment is the key. Choose one chair.”

Thank you Susan, for such a challenging question. I am going to try and provide you with an answer from my perspective. First, I will confess – I feel that I do not have the courage to “sit on one chair.” What I chose to do is focus my energy on art, and I will identify this as my main chair.

Art is my passion! After the first part of my life was spent pleasing parents and later meet my own family’s needs I finally gathered all my energy and courage to move forward with formal art training.  At forty I began to pursue what I wanted to do at age sixteen.

I have not looked back. Moving forward, first with my formal training and eventually by building a body of work I was very focused on learning and producing. Eventually I was approached to teach and share my knowledge. I was hesitant as I felt I would not be taken seriously as an artist if I also taught workshops. After careful consideration I threw caution to the wind and moved into teaching.

My first career was also in teaching: Kindergarten to be exact. Sharing my art experience with adults has become the most rewarding work I have ever pursued. But, I keep asking myself if I am staying true to myself. The question is perpetual and much time is spent in contemplation.

Over the years I have come to the realization that creating art is an isolated activity. I live in a tiny community without like-minded people I can collaborate with close by. A creative community in the nearest city is always available for feedback and support. However, I have found that the best way for me to get better at what I do is to share, and that means teaching classes.

In summary: I have chosen several chairs. My first and most important chair is to be a studio artist. The secondary chair is the way I share what I have learned. Susan asked: “How do I know where to put my time and energy.” I consider myself an organized person, which sometimes hinders my flexibility. Once I embark on a new idea and project I tend to tune out distractions to the point of becoming unsocial and all absorbed. The goal I strive for is finding a healthy balance as I continue on my path.

I want to turn Susan’s very thought provoking question over to the readers. Have you had the courage to choose one chair? And how do you determine where to put your time and energy.

This entry was published on June 6, 2013 at 6:41 am. It’s filed under Art, Design, Journaling, Networking, Studio / Workshop / Creative Space Challenge and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

9 thoughts on “To Summon the Courage to ‘Sit on One Chair’

  1. I continue to struggling with how to divide my time. I’ve always been happiest when I am working on my art. When I teach, I love seeing my students stretch and learn something new about themselves. I get a great deal of satisfaction from my volunteer work when I can help make a difference in someone’s life. Through all of this, my family is patient and supportive. I thought when I retired, I would have more time in my day! Time seems to be a vacuum … an empty space that needs to be filled! And, did I mention that I love to travel? We are so fortunate that we have these choices to make!


  2. Suse on said:

    It’s interesting that you blogged about this particular subject today. Just last night I had sat down to think about where I wanted to taking my quilting career. I have come to the conclusion that I love to learn & try new things, so I will probably never find just one chair to sit on. However, each chair that I do sit on will probably come from the same room. Thank you for your thoughts on this. And thank you to the other ladies who also commented. I agree that we must continually seek out new opportunities & ideas to keep the creative well full.


    • Life is learning and that is what keeps me forging ahead. The arts are the best place to pour your energy into because the challenges are ever present. Challenges are learning opportunities…


  3. I have to say my situation is similar to the one above….I primarily paint ( on stone ) but also teach classes now and then and also paint on canvas, eggs and wood. I think artists need new challenges to keep ideas coming and inspiration flowing. My natural rhythm seems to have me painting in the winter months and doing garden and yard work in the growing season. A love of photography keeps me recording images and reference material for the times when I want to sit and paint. My daughter once had a conversation with a well-known artist (Frank Sudol) that she always will remember. When discussing life choices and deciding which way to go his advice was to her- “No matter what anyone tells you…..NEVER choose!!!!” He advocated giving your self all kinds of wiggle room and exploring as many mediums, topics and exp. as possible! You can still focus your attention on what you love but always be open to new methods, ideas etc.


    • Love it, love it, love it, Joan! NEVER choose…. I do believe that today one must keep their options open. Was there not a statistic a while back that the average adult reinvents herself/himself approximately seven times to stay current in today’s job market? I have definitely exceeded the magic number “7”… Your post drives home the importance to consider all options.
      Thanks for weighing in!


  4. Your experience is like mine in several aspects. At the moment. I”m mainly a painter, but I also love photography and I teach now and then. And just as a practical matter I take contract jobs take give me some money. The teaching and community work helps my art and stops isolation. My sister says that I’m more human when I don’t focus on my art practice full-time and I agree with her. I think it’s a balance.


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