Friday, December 12, 2014

the truth about being an artist

TMS Newsletter excerpt for Friday December 12, 2014

This week’s newsletter is a fun little chat about keeping it real.

Over the years, as I have talked to people visiting during studio tours, I have come to realize that many have ideas about artists that are simply false.

These myths are so strong that they can keep wanna-be artists from actually creating.

Perhaps you have ideas about being an artist that might be stopping your progress.

 If so, please let me give you the real deal on being an artist...

·        Starvation is not a requirement to being an artist. Many successful painters, potters, weavers etc. are not ‘starving artists’. So if you are rather partial to eating, be reassured. Not all artists are poor or destitute and some of us are very well fed indeed. J

·        Being creatively obsessed is not required. It is a myth that artists create every waking moment. We do take time to wash ourselves and eat! In fact, let me reassure you that you can be an artist even if, gasp – you don’t draw or paint every single day. Gaps of weeks, months or even years can occur and they do not matter. If you have held a demanding day job or raised a family or looked after elderly parents and you have not made art during this time, so be it. This does not disqualify you from being an artist.

·        You do not need to be mentally or physically ill to make art. Yes many great authors, composers and artists throughout history have struggled with mental health problems and with things like lead poisoning and venereal diseases. These people created art despite these conditions not because of them. So if you are middle class and healthy and not hearing voices in your head, you can still be an artist. And if you are rich and not healthy and you do hear voices, well you can get an ‘artist card’ in your deck too. Art is equal opportunity employer!

·        You do not need a studio garret in order to be an artist. In fact you don’t need a converted garage or garden shed or a studio addition on your house. You can be an artist in a back bedroom or in a corner of the basement or at the kitchen table.

The title of the art below describes this chap as a poor poet. I rather think this looks like a lovely place to create. Love that light coming in the window. So if you have an attic garret, go for it.

Carl Spitzweg, Der arme Poet, The Poor Poet, 1839

·        You do not have to be young nor do you have to have been talented from your youth to be a real artist. Many artists really get going with their art making following retirement. Many of us develop our talents as adults not as children. It is never too late to pick up a pencil or a paint brush. I repeat – never.

·        You do not need to have a fine art degree. There are people with fine art degrees who are lousy artists and lots of self taught artists that are brilliant. Education is fantastic but there are many ways to obtain it. Besides, keep in mind that university fine art programs don’t often recognize coloured pencil as a fine art medium worthy of deep study. And you can graduate with a fine art degree and have never mastered the fundamentals of drawing. So if you haven’t yet got your fine art degree, relax. There are many ways to learn what you need to know.

·        Here is another myth - you are a real artist once you have sold work to the public. Hogwash. Van Gogh only sold one painting in his entire life. He was very much an artist before that sale occurred. You do not need to be a professional artist, making your living off the sale of your art in order to think of yourself as an artist. And just because something was painted on a canvas and money was exchanged, well this doesn’t make it good art either. J Just saying...

So do any of these busted myths set you free? A new year is just around the corner. Now is the time to give yourself permission to let your artistic self shine. Set art goals for 2015 not resolutions! 

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