Friday, June 15, 2012

'Artist' is not a Job.

There is no image for this post.

Tonight, I painted with beer. I have been wanting to do this for a while now. I know it is common for people to use coffee and tea, but I thought I might be on to something by trying a nice chocolate stout . . . until el Hueso reminded me of that woman from Bend who paints with beer! She was in the Fort George Beer show last year, I completely forgot!  I wonder how many other ideas I get that are not my own? Is an original idea even possible anymore in this overactive, over-populated world where everything's already been done several times over -simultaneously! I think it's time for me to accept that the idea of originality is dead. Why even bother trying to come up with something new? What if the secret to success is more about the familiar? Why bust my brain trying to reinvent the wheel when I can just go with what I know? If I were smart, I would just build upon what has worked for me instead of constantly starting over, constantly searching for the Golden Ticket.  I find the familiar a bit boring, so instead of perfecting a skill, I keep exploring new ones, never amounting to a master of anything.

As I was painting tonight in the dimly lit bar, I realized that I could barely see what I was I was doing. My old eyes are failing me and I'm not ready to start wearing my reading glasses in public yet. I started to wonder what difference anything makes. And then I was reminded of a 'friendly argument' between a husband and wife I know who disagree about the definition of an artist. . . he argues that if you make art that is never seen then you cannot call yourself an artist. Just as an actor requires an audience, an artist requires a viewer. She argues that the mere act of creating makes you an artist, that it's more about HOW you express yourself as a painter, dancer, actor, writer, musician, etc. than WHO you express it to. All this makes me wonder: WHO are we doing it for anyway? Motives may vary for the reasons we do it, but the underlying factor that is hitting me over the head lately is how selfish it all is! You have to be pretty self-centered to choose to be an artist. Instead of working to become a nurse, teacher or scientist, the artist decides to hone the skill of expressing THEMSELVES and how THEY see things.  Thankfully, there is a hungry 'audience' out there who see great value in this and appreciate it. But while the artist is being praised for their bravery, and receiving accolades for putting themselves 'out there', who is considering the means of support that makes it all possible in the first place? The behind-the-scenes benefactor receives no credit, though deserves it the most.

For some it might be uber-wealthy parents who bestow the support . . .
why can't we all be Trustafarians?!
For me, it is my humble, unhappy husband who busses off to work everyday
(so I can have the car) and slaves away at his gut-wrenching, soul-sucking job to keep food in our bellies and a roof over our heads while I ponder the meaning of life and how to best express it. This arrangement leaves me riddled with guilt and it's not working for either of us. It's not fair. He doesn't really understand what I'm doing or how I say the art world works, but he's been patient. It's been 3 years now without me bringing anything to the table (financially) and his migraines have increased to worrisome proportions. How can I make art at such a cost?
Yes, I'm showing my art here and there and even selling a few paintings every now and then, but it's not nearly enough to alleviate the stress. It's just not worth it to watch my love suffer for my art. I wonder how many other artists are in the same boat and how they reconcile their predicaments? I get the feeling that most folks at 'Craft Night' are single, either don't have children or their kids have grown up? Maybe it's just not the right time for me to be an artist. Should I wait until my kid is grown, that's only 9 years or so, (I'll be eligible for AARP in 5) Perhaps I'll be tragically hip by then!

Not sure where to go from here. Just when I think I'm on to something, on my way . . .

I find out I'm doing it for all the wrong reasons.


  1. Just ...create. Period! It's part of U
    It's always been a battle between Art and "Making a living"...

  2. You are not responsible for your husband's migraines. But I understand your guilt. There is something selfish about art I suppose. Maybe that's why most successful artists are men? They have wives doing everything else for them - and mistresses as takes ego to keep going....anyway I think you should get rid of the guilt! Your art is necessary for you to be you and your family want you to be happy and love you. You can't be a good mother if you're miserable. Address the problems separately - your husbands problems and your problems. I believe there is no such thing as work life balance! Who has balance? We just work hard and do the best we can! Keep going!!! Trust your gut!

  3. Thanks for writing this stuff. Your talents clearly go beyond the visual - you are very articulate. I hope this summer's brought harmony and wholeness and that fall's harvest will be bountiful. Sending BIG LOVE. Joan p.s. keep making the art!