Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Working Artist

There's so many slants on the topic of Art. Frankly as it pertains to writing, LGC covered the Writer as Artist beautifully yesterday at the Pens. So let's talk about the Working Artist.

Here's a fun fact: I was in art school when I first moved out to California twenty years ago.

I was going to school for Interior Design but I still had to take the general art education classes which I LOVED, but no one will ever call me a visual artist. One semester I had two vastly different professors. They were both WONDERFUL artists. One, a painter of both oil and watercolor, who taught my Color Class. The other, an artist who did amazing still life in pencil, who taught Drawing 101.

The Painter lamented to us students day in and day out about how difficult it was to make a living. Being an artist sucked. He couldn't find outlets to sell his work. He couldn't support himself on his art alone which was why he was in the classroom teaching. Starving artist wasn't just a label it was his reality he would tell us bitterly.

The Line Artist (for lack of a better word) painted a picture of prosperity. He loved line drawings, he took commissions and people had begun to seek him out for specific projects. He was doing well, supporting himself, AND doing what he loved. He taught young students to share his knowledge and his LOVE of art.

If I'd had them separate semesters I might never have noticed the extreme dichotomy. But listening to them both made me realize that I wanted to be like the Line Artist. That it was possible to be commercial and be artistic, the two are not mutually exclusive.

And it really brought home that we all have a choice in how we perceive our life, our profession and our art. I choose to be a working artist. How about you?

Lisa

9 comments:

Rachael Herron said...

That's pretty awesome that you had them both at the same time, and could do that insta-comparison. I wonder if the Painter ever had any idea what kind of impression he actually left?

Juliet Blackwell said...

One reason I never studied art in school was because of how dour the art teachers always seemed! Disillusioned and frustrated, rather than excited about teaching art. As one who made her living through painting for many years, I know that excitement is the only way to go. Much like with writing!

Adrienne Miller said...

I think you hit it on the head, Lisa. When you love what you do, it shows. I think that's what people are most drawn to in art, that sense of authenticity and enthusiasm. Those things can only come out of love.

Sophie Littlefield said...

the cross section between art for art's sake, and commercialism/making a living, is the most fascinating place to be! I think all the best work gets done there.

L.G.C. Smith said...

I've never understood why some artistic types seem so unhappy doing art, writing, making music, or whatever. Sure, there are aspects that are worklike. But no one holds a gun to your head and demands that you be a sculptor. Art makes for pretty self-selecting careers. That seems like high luxury to me.

Lisa Hughey said...

Juliet--I'm in awe of your talent!!

R and L--he was a really unhappy guy. Most of us were in class for reasons other than becoming a painter so likely no one was permanently scarred. :) Although we did have one or two ART students. Hopefully they ignored him.

Adrienne and Soph--I think the best thing about being a writer is being able to do it commercially and yet still fill that need to create that festers inside us. :)

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