Being an artist is glamorous….not.
I have met many people over the years that tell me that they are truly fascinated with my being an artist. It is outside of their wheelhouse to think about someone creating something beautiful and meaningful for clients every week. And then there are the openings for art exhibitions, right? Everyone gets dressed up and puts on a high-brow cap and slowly walks around discussing art while swigging a glass of wine. It must seem very glamorous.
“You are so talented!” “Oh, you are so lucky!” “Oh! It must be fun to paint and play all day..”
I can tell ya right now that there is a dirty side of being an artist. And it is anything but glitzy.
In the past few weeks I have destroyed my nails while embedding gold paint under them, gotten paint on my clothes, crawled around on my dusty floor repairing an image and recently have had a bunch of sawdust in my hair. (more explanations on that last one soon) Most days my hair is in a ponytail and my face has pastel on it. (ooo yes, I am dateable)
I swear. I drop paint on the floor or I forget to clean a brush. I make mistakes and then swear some more. And then there is the fact that there is never enough time in the week to get it all done.
I think artists walk between 2 worlds. The solitary, don’t-talk-to-me-I’m-working mode where we eat at weird times, sketch down inspirations late at night in the kitchen or in a car, wear the same clothes over and over and make a lovely mess. And then we have to shift to the scrub-down-and-find-some-half-descent-clothes in order to put on the slight act that we are like everyone else when we meet a client or go to a show. We are neither blue-collar nor white-collar- we are both and we are splattered with all of the colors too.
You know what I mean. Like a little kid happily playing in a mud puddle (where we are happiest) we sometimes have to take a bath and put on a fluffy dress and go to Sunday school. Both modes can be fun. Both modes are part of who I am. Both are work.
I love this illustration…
Yeah, add messy hair and a good dose of stress and that about sums it up.
So the next time you go to an exhibition or see an amazing work in a magazine, think for a minute of what it took to create it. There are so many articles and videos online that show the “perfect studio” and a cute, slim artist living their best life. (gag) They easily create pretty demos and don’t break a sweat. Ha! Don’t you believe it. That is theater. Real life has us fussing and fighting and doubting ourselves and making a mess and ripping off our nails. Embrace it- it is ok. It is necessary.
And know you are not alone.
The comment that gets to me is, “ You are so talented,”. I’ve worked so very hard to learn how to draw and paint and none of it has come easily, but I have the persistence to stay at it. Yes— the end product hides all that and we make pretty for awhile.
I understand your messes completely! I have to clean up my studio/ extra bedroom every week when my granddaughter comes for a sleepover— she can’t sleep on the boxes of pastels laid out on the bed.
Right? We adapt!!!
Thank you for such a realistic post. Sometimes we just need to hear that we are not alone. 💖
WE ARE NOT ALONE!! 😀😀
I forget which writer said, “I sit at the typewriter, wait for blood to seep from my forehead, and then I start.” She said it is not what people think. They get the pleasure of the final product, not building the building.
Perfect way of saying that.
That is all so true, Christine. I hate it when people say, Oh it must be so relaxing to paint! Yikes! I always say, no it is not relaxing, it is often frustrating. But there are times when it can be satisfying and rewarding.
Right! Its the least relaxing thing I can think of…
The other day I did a painting that I am actually satisfied with:…very rare ….my studio is trashed and I don’t really care 😳 !!!!
Yay to mess!
Exactly why I confine myself to a dedicated second floor. Even Husby doesn’t visit.
Totally!! And I grew up as the daughter of an artist..who ‘designed’ our meals by hue and texture. some pretty weird experiences…but so worth it. And once I became an artist I finally realized how hard she worked.
Thats awesome. I often ask my kids if its weird having an artist as a mom. They say sometimes…
I have had compliments and so many “not” compliments.” My favorite is, “Why do you charge so much?”. And especially “My niece can do that for so much less.” As to the first, I usually answer, “It has taken me years to get to that point, and you get what you pay for.” As to the second, “You must be so proud. May I have her name. I’d like to look her up”. But truth be told, I usually say nothing at all. My mess is constant. I straighten it up, just to have it look the same in a couple of hours. Sigh. But I know where everything is! Thanks for posting. Love it.
As my smart, lovely college roommate stated, “ Art is 1 % talent and 99% hard work!”
Christine, I love this!! Somebody gets me!! I am a part time artist with commission work with a full time job and its exhausting, but I LOVE it!!
Amen! Its what we do.
You nailed it Christine. It is a fantasy that it is just beautiful work by magic! It takes a lot of mess in the cauldron to create.
I have found the comments very refreshing!! I am only 2 years in on my artist journey and also in my 70’s. Never worked harder or spent so much time in frustration . Doubt my talent on a daily basis and never had so much joy doing it!! Happy to hear that hard work pays off! I am blessed to be in such great company!
Keep at it! 😀
So right! I just watched a video where a watercolor artist showed his piles and piles of failed paintings. Nobody realizes that for every successful painting, there are probably three or four times as many failed paintings sitting in a pile somewhere. And the hard work that it takes to get there, nobody realizes that unless you tell them.
Absolutely. I like seeing the failed
I’ve been told, “It’s all about money with you artists” when they saw the price tags on my paintings (and artists tell me I price them too low.) If they only knew how little my sales really amount to. Another “favorite” comment is, “They’re so pretty, almost like photographs.” I usually just thank them and take it as the compliment it’s intended to be.
Agree. If ya wanna see an artist cringe just tell them their work looks just like a photograph.