Maybe some of us will never have a real, legit or even a fancy place to create, but I believe the world still needs us. When I write “us” I mean the painters painting in their dining rooms, the writers toiling away via laptops at coffee shops, the architects sketching on diner napkins, the actors selling products at the local malls and the dancers teaching aerobics…I salute you.
Those that have better situations will tell us we are not legit, but I believe it may only take the sight of one painting to change someone’s life.
“A thumbnail sketch a jeweler’s stone
A mean idea to call my own
Old man don’t lay so still you’re not yet young
There’s time to teach point to point
Point observation children carry reservations
Standing on the shoulders of giants leaves me cold leaves me cold.
A mean idea to call my own a hundred million birds fly”
~ R.E.M. lyrics from King of Birds
Why do I still stay in the game? Because it’s one of the few things that gives me satisfaction. Fulfilment. Satiety. Peace. I feel transported after a few brush strokes. I’m renewed. This is my purpose without a doubt to create and yes, my art is often made on a crappy dining room table.
The only artists I know that don’t have day jobs have married well or divorced even better or some are the lucky few born wealthy. There are those rare cases of artists who have come from nothing and found success. For the rest of us, we have to put food in the fridge by any means necessary. I’m done feeling bad about it. I’d rather have a grateful heart than be pissed about not “making it.”
The hardest thing about being an artist is remaining an artist.
What I, and maybe billions of other creatives, struggle with is staying in the game when your time is eaten by a day job and the constant switching of gears after a hard day. Sometimes I have to “binge create” on the weekend to avoid the stress of the gear switching. If I take a weekend block of time and just go full out, it’s like a swimmer taking a big breath, diving and coming up for air hours later.
Another challenge we creatives face is valuing our work. Society views it as non-essential.
I don’t know how to make the world pay me a salary for my art along with health insurance but I do know that I can’t stop being an artist. Making art also requires some sacrifices, or maybe sacrifice is too heavy a word — it requires making certain difficult choices. I’d be more social if I wasn’t an artist. I don’t have kids because I’m an artist. I don’t have a better job because I’m an artist. I don’t have spending money because I’m an artist. I don’t go on vacations because I’m an artist.
Perhaps I appreciate it more because I only get a few hours of it a day.
We pray for our art to be easy but really we should pray to have the strength to make our art.
For more self-study, The Urban Howl recommends The Inner Voice of Love: A Journey Through Anguish to Freedom.
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