Once, in an art class, the instructor proclaimed with conviction, “Art is NOT supposed to be fun.” She snarled sternly, “Art is WORK!” and at that moment, I decided I didn’t like her. At least one student was chastised for smiling while painting. Seriously, she was over the top.
Today, as I was thinking about blog topics and how I’m struggling with some elements in my own studio, I realized she had a point….sort of….in a much gentler way. Art is work, or perhaps more accurately, persistence.
Artists have their share of rocky debris to dig through, but it isn’t really hard labor. (click to Tweet). Those who wait for the Muse may find she’s on holiday, those who seek opportunity may find it elusive, those who seek recognition….don’t get me started….their disappointment can be plentiful and reek of low-self and steam.
There are times I go to the studio feeling somewhat uninspired. I dutifully put brush to canvas, sling a bit of paint, and soon I’m in the groove. More often than not I end up happily painting, creating a piece that may or may not please me. It’s okay if a piece of art isn’t perfect. It’s just loosening me up, teaching me, preparing me to create that good painting that will come…eventually.
It’s the same with this “Well Lived Life Blog.” I never run out of topics, because there’s a constant stream of dialogue parading through my mind. I just need to be quiet long enough to let it do its work. I’ve devised a formula: meditation before the first draft and good coffee for the final draft. There may be drafts in between, depending upon the quality of the writing. Sometimes, the dialogue is better than other times…sometimes it’s practice, but it never feels like work.
When our art is displayed or published, they refer to it as “work.” At times I’m overcome with my Catholic guilt, knowing I should have enjoyed creating it less and bled on it a bit more. I love what I do and feel fortunate to be a full time artist. I even delight in schlepping my art, shipping my art, and always in taking payments. I embrace starting (and finished – especially finishing) commissions. I like searching for opportunities and relish building relationships with people in my art communities. Still, there are those times, when I drag myself to the studio. Fortunately, they don’t happen very often and when they do, I grind it out. I stick with it until the inspiration shows up.
I can’t reprimand her though, for fear she’ll abandon me permanently.
I guess that teacher had a point. While it often feels like a bed of roses, the work might be the thorns. They are there…making the perfume of the rose all the more sweet and desirable.
This may not be my best post, it may just be practice, but I’ll keep sticking with it. You stick with it, too.
Work it out,
Michelle Andres is a writer and artist. She writes this blog to share tips for a well-lived life and a finely run art business…just for you!
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