Students at the McKinley School in Salem, OR work on a mural of their own design
Students at the McKinley School in Salem, OR work on a mural of their own design

Stories and lessons learned about the hows and whys of living by a traditional understanding of art — not as object, but as activity, as a way of life. Included are essays about principles of design, measure, and proportion, as well as social and economic aspects of working as an artist — earning money, working for community, teaching, learning…. You can read it in it’s entirety below, and download it free or buy a paper copy ($20, full color, w/photos) through the bookstore. There’s also a forum at

The ideas aren’t new but, like seeds, they must be adapted to each environment, and they only live on if we plant, tend, harvest, and share them: We engage in the work of art when we fit our unique and individual selves into a whole life and landscape, into our communities, into our common stories. The doing of it — from washing the dishes to hoeing the beans to painting, drawing, or sculpting — it all requires art: technique, skill, awareness, patience, perseverance. Traditional wisdom says the same: “An artist is not a special kind of person; every person is a special kind of artist.” Why, then, do we believe the popular myth of the outcast genius pitting her or himself against the whole of society? The stories are how I started to see the world — and to understand art — in ways that made more sense, that offered support and encouragement, and that made it possible for me to live by art (tho that looks quite different — better! — than I might have thought 20 years ago).

Some reader responses:

“Kiko! I love this about making art….your words speak to me. Thank you.” — Cathy Wilson

“Thanks Kiko. Beautiful essay! My practice is of spirit, art and science of earthcare and regeneration practiced at Home. Home is everywhere. Welcome Home!”

“thanks Kiko, and thanks for providing the feedback forum so that we can share what your writing has triggered in us!” — mona

“Kiko – Thank you for expressing so eloquently the mess in my heart. …All those times I’ve heard, “You can’t make a living doing art.” Well you know what, you can’t make a living denying your soul. If you’re passion is beauty and art – do it anyway, at least you’ll feel whole and connected. And I know many artist now who make enough or more than enough money to be happy.Keep doing what you’re doing.” — Annie

“Thanks for writing this out!”

“This really resonates with me. I’ve been fighting all my life to avoid labels and try to define myself by my actions. I like the concept of explaining my identity without using the phrase ‘I am’”.  — Elise



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *