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Saturday, November 9, 2013

Reality Check: What Is Really Involved In Being An "Artist"

This is A Lot of Work!!!
Artists work incredibly hard. Along with many other artists I know, this often means working seven days a week. The tasks involve not just painting, but countless other activities, including: developing concepts for paintings, taking photos, sketching, studying techniques, practicing new techniques, taking classes, attending workshops, reading books, discussing strategies, developing websites and blogs, creating cds of work and filling out applications for shows, delivering work to shows, attending shows (ours & our friends), volunteering for art centers, serving on boards, teaching, lecturing and oh, so much more. What also needs to be included in the workload, is the incredible energy expended picking ourselves up off the floor after a promising work ends up not so successful, and reaching for that brush and saying, "I'll try again." 

Most artists are deeply committed to making their personal visual contribution to society and there are a myriad of forces that drive our desire to create art. Much of what is fueling the urge comes from the creative spirit that refuses to be ignored. But there's also the undeniable need for attention: listen to me and what I have to say! I often hear artists feel as if they are just plain addicted to creating art, myself included. The reasons for choosing an artist's life may be varied, but the incredible amount of work that it requires to achieve "success" (which can be defined in so many ways) is the same. The process of relentless study, practice, trial and error pieces usually takes years and years. Even more sobering: a lot of talented artists aren't even able to turn a profit from their work.  Ever. And yet, we remain committed.

When talking to non-artist friends, I am slightly bemused when I hear someone believe the painter's life means one just paints a couple paintings now and then. The rest of our time, they seem to assume we just "hang out." Which also leads them to believe we have plenty of time for any number of activities which "working" people don't have time to do. I am relieved to say however, that non-artist friends and relatives have finally stopped dropping by my home during the day (where my studio is). Apparently, my hostile mien, resentment palpable, was effective. Would they just drop by someone's office unannounced? I think not.

Being a painter means when one painting is finished & framed, you go onto the next one and pray like mad the next one shows improvement. If you have a desire to turn a profit, you must produce a lot of paintings. And if you're not "in the mood" to paint, you need to dang well get yourself in the mood. For some prospective, in this post I'm including a small portion of what I've completed this year. This doesn't include all the year's work, or the duds, but I do think it gives an idea as to the amount I'm talking about. Enjoy, and now I have to get back to work!

4 x 4
4 x 4
4 x 4
4 x 4
4 x 6

(4 x 6)


Pink Rain Boots (8 x 10)

Should I? (16 x 20)
Timor Waiting (20 x 24)

 5 x 7
8 x 10

Pretty In Pink 24 x 24
Glazed Doughnut (20 x 20)
  In Or Out? (30 x 40)

Relentless (48 x 60)