Quite a few of you have been sending questions to me, which I absolutely love (keep ’em coming, please). Recently, one started nibbling away at me and I’ve been going back and forth with it ever since. The question: Is being an artist worth it?
I have to say that the last 16 years of pursuing art professionally has definitely been a challenge, both financially and emotionally. You all can understand the financial part of that equation I’m sure. But the emotional component is not as obvious. It takes some real strength to go deep enough to find one’s art, and then to keep going there, year after year. Art is demanding. We must keep moving with it or it dies. Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, has said (and I paraphrase here) that artists are like sharks. We have to keep moving or we sink and drown. I believe there is absolute truth in that statement. There really is no rest for artists.
It is also a test of our emotional courage to live, constantly, within the unknown. Not having a regular paycheck, not knowing when the next painting will sell, or what economic situation the world will be in next year and how that might affect art sales, requires a steadfast kind of belief—even when we aren’t sure that it’s so wise to believe.
But I am finally able, without qualification, to answer that question in the affirmative. YES! For me, being an artist is definitely worth any challenge or sacrifice I have to make. It is my life and it is a very good one. I know this without hesitation.
Recently, two readers of the blog came to Truchas to visit with Anna and me in our Anna Karin Gallery. Sylvia Montesinos and Paula Manning Lewis spent a quiet afternoon with us. Listening to their stories made me think more about this question from their perspectives.
Sylvia is a physician on sabbatical, endeavoring to learn “… more about the body, mind and soul…” over the course of the next year or so. She is doing this, in part, by pursuing painting and pottery, two loves she cast aside while studying and then practicing medicine. You really should check out her wonderful website: http://livingheartandsoul.com/ and blog: http://sylviamontesinos.blogspot.com/. She is a stunningly bright woman on a remarkable path of discovery. If we walk alongside her, I believe we may just learn something about ourselves.
Paula has been making art for most of her life. See her website http://www.paulamanninglewis.com. She and her husband, Aaron, own Chroma Studios in Albuquerque—rental studios for visual and performing artists. Learn more about what they have to offer on their website: http://chromastudios.wordpress.com/.
Here is Paula talking about making art:
And I couldn’t resist putting in one of Aaron’s songs. He’s an amazing musician:
The two of them have come together in ways that support each other making their art.
Here are three individuals who are living examples of an affirmative answer to our question. Sylvia left a lucrative medical practice to answer something deep in her soul. Paula and Aaron have come together to support themselves while supporting others’ art through their rental studios.
Why do we each work so hard to be artists, in one form or another? Certainly a “regular” job with a regular paycheck would be easier… or would it?
Yes, for me, and I believe for Sylvia, Paula and Aaron, being an artist is most certainly worth it. Now for the real question: Is being an artist worth it to you?
P.S. Sylvia baked some wonderful scones for Anna and me and made me a gift of a lovely plate she’d created, because it reminded her of my gray and white paintings (it really is similar). I wanted to share them with you here:
Love to you all,
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