Oct 12, 2012

Artists Don't Work!

Artists don't work. They just goof off all day! Have you ever heard that? I have many times throughout the years. Non-artists seem to have no idea how much time and effort it takes to create a piece of art. Let's not even talk about all the years and years of practice and classes and workshops and reading books and watching videos. Forget that. I'm talking strictly the time put into one piece of art, in my case a painting. They seem to think I just whip up a painting in a matter of minutes without any effort at all. Here are some of the comments I've received as a result of saying I do wildlife art for a living.

"It must be nice not to have to work!"

"You're so lucky to be able to just goof off all day!"

"Really? I wish I didn't have to have a real job, either!"

"It must be wonderful to just have fun all day!"

"Wow, I can't believe you get paid for doing nothing all day."

There are many variations on these, of course. But you get the idea. Non-artists seem to think I just sit around in a blissful state of art nirvana all day with not a care in the world, art just flowing through me like water through a stream! Yeah, that really would be nice!

The reality is, art is work. As artists we are definitely not goofing off all day. It takes time, effort, and patience to create a piece of art. And all that time is definitely not always pleasant. Sure, once in a while you can get into "the zone" where the muse takes over and art just seems to flow effortlessly from your fingertips. But, despite common belief, that rarely happens. The reality is creating art takes conscious effort. And, like any project, it does not always go as planned. Artists struggle sometimes. They make mistakes. They have to redo things. Sometimes no matter what they try, it just doesn't work and they have to throw it all out and start over. It's not all fun and games. Creating art can be frustrating, tiring, and even boring (yes, painting leaves on trees for days on end can get boring after a while), just like any other form of work. Sometimes artists even wonder why they're doing it. Art is anything but blissful nirvana all day. It's work, just like any other job.

So why do we do it? Why not just get a "real job" like most people? Because, despite the difficulties, there's a passion to it. There's some crazy drive in us to get it done despite the frustration. I'd say it's a bit like climbing Mount Everest. You're tired. You're cold. You've got frost bite. You're wondering if you've lost your mind. But that mountain peak beckons you for unknown reasons. So you keep trudging on, despite the cold, because you have to reach the top. It feels so good to reach the top!

OK, I've never tried to climb Mount Everest, so maybe this isn't a fair analogy. I'm sure, in reality, I'd rather fight my canvas than fight the elements there. But you get my point I hope.

In the artist's case, we keep trudging on despite the frustration, because we want to reach that finished piece of art! It feels so good to finish a piece! It just has to be done!

Maybe climbing mountains is nuts. And maybe creating art is nuts too. But in any case, never assume that either does not require a lot of time, effort, and work.


Carol said...

Very astute observations, I agree completely.

Colette Theriault said...

Could not have said it better myself Crista!

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