Friday, May 8, 2009

Art Blog: The HARD part

If you are a reader of this blog, you know I have made the CHOICE to be an artist with a day job. I say it is my choice because I have lived as an artist without a day job. Since I am single and have always supported myself, trying to live off the money I make selling my art isn’t fun for me. It is just too stressful and undependable. Also even though I am not materialistic, I want a certain lifestyle level. I want to be able to go to the grocery store and not worry if my ATM card will be rejected for insufficient funds. I want middle class things and I don’t want my heart to beat through my chest while trying to explain my finances to the loan officer. This has happened to me too many times before. I don’t want to make “marketable” art to appease the masses or my wallet. I just don’t want to do that. Living from art sale to art sale or workshop to workshop is dicey, on the edge, and for me, too scary. So, I made the decision to be an artist who teaches. It makes my art life so much nicer and predictable.

However, it isn’t all daisies and rainbow colors. There is a down side. One of the most troubling flaws with this plan are moments like right now. There are periods in my day job life that are almost all consuming. Don’t get me wrong. Most of the time, I can toss job/art tasks around with the agile skill of a master juggler. However, there are certain months of the year it is almost impossible for me to think of my own art.
This is the HARD part!

Even though I know things will change dramatically within weeks, I still hate the way I feel during periods like this. My mind plays tricks on me. So quickly, I get the feeling I am not an artist anymore. I start to get depressed as I pass my studio and have no time to work on my art. Even though this maddening day job rush hour lasts only about a month, it freaks me out.

The feeling I am not an artist is very silly and stupid. I recognize this erroneous message as a lie told to me by the machinations of my irrational mind. I have lived with this kind of crap most of my art life. There is reality vs. Sheree’s emotional drama. I am finally seeing improvement in the way I handle these moments. For example, today I am dog tired. I want to paint this weekend, but I have to play catch up and clean the house instead. I can’t function in a trashed house. Also, I have to prep space for some new appliances being delivered next week. LIFE. So I will do that. As far as the thoughts of “not being an artist” are concerned, this too is an irrational sham. In fact, I have work in two shows opening this weekend. My sketchbook is a part of the show opening in Chicago at Chicago Art Source Gallery. Also, I have work in the Southern Open 2009 at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, Louisiana.

So there Sheree brain! That is reality. You are an artist. This day job schedule is going to come to a screeching halt in a mere 16 work days. You have been through this many times before. Relax. Keep moving. Before you know it, it will be easy for you to work all day long in the studio. After that, you will have many more shows in your future. Believe me because this is the truth!

"See The Light", digital sketch, Sheree Rensel

I am finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Things will be much better soon. I can see myself working hard in my studio without the day job worries. I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I see the light. I see it.


Bill Evertson said...

I sooo get where this post is coming from. When I'm not making art I make cabinetry in my one man shop. There are weeks at a time where studio time is measured in minutes not hours. I just have to suck in the resentment of "lost" time and do the money making work with the same attention to detail. I'm glad to see light at the end of your tunnel; it must mean an art filled summer to look forward to :)

Sheree Rensel said...

I am glad you "get it". I am sure there are many, many artists who would understand this post. The funny part is I don't think some of them would admit it. It seems nowadays the art zeitgeist seems to be to put on a valiant front. All this marketing fervor and tweeting how great sales are. I see a lot of smoke and mirrors. It is as if admitting an art life has its slumps is a bad thing. However, we live in a yin/yang world. We have to acknowledge to bad to appreciate the good. :-)

JafaBrit's Art said...

yes, lots of smoke and mirrors and oooh let's be positive. The reality is people have to pay their bills. So I "get it" too. I have decided to stop trying to have an "art career" and busting my backside trying to promote that. I have been working on it full time now for 6 years and it ain't happening and it isn't like I didn't do all the "so called" as they say in all those "art marketing books" the right steps. That is just the reality of it.
You are in a good place where you can support yourself and as a result be true to yourself as an artist. You will NEVER stop being an artist sheree.

Sheree Rensel said...

I read your blog post too. I even read the essay you suggested. I agree with both. I think this is one advantage of being as old as I am. Since I started my so called "art career" so long ago, I figured out a lot of this stuff a long time ago. I can remember back in the early eighties trying to get a car loan. I needed a car desperately. At that time, I sold a lot of art, but it was still sporadic. Business people don't like hearing that money comes in "whenever". I didn't like that feeling of insecurity and knocking my head up against the wall. I too have done all the "right stuff". Crap. You know. I am all over the web. I have always done the "right steps" per those BOOKS. I just know the reality of this kind of life because I have lived it for decades. I will admit, I am hard headed. My art is esoteric and priced too high for the average person. However, I refuse to sell paintings for $25 a crack on Ebay. Nor do I want to do assembly line abstracts or cutesy doggie paintings. What purpose would that serve? I still wouldn't make what I make teaching! LOL I don't need chum change. It just isn't worth the time and effort.

Just keep doing what you do BEST Jaf. Find a way to survive and devote your time to entertain the muses. The only thing to "BE" is HAPPY.

JafaBrit's Art said...

thanks sheree, I really appreciate everyone's comments, opinions, experience and support.

Lady P said...

As I approach a similar crossroads in my life, I appreciate your candor and reading both your blog and Jafa Brit's

Sheree Rensel said...

Thank you so much for reading! I am glad you enjoy my honesty. That is very important to me!

deb said...

The one thing I heard when reading your post was drama, don't we just live for it, that internal discussion blathering on in our minds... anyway I do. Like you I am glad of my day job, and like you some times it is overwhelming, but then I like to sleep at night and know I can pay this months bills, after years of scraping by I am happy to have savings and to be able to splurge on my kids occasionally. And you are so an artist and an inspiration!!