The Myth of the Artist

I'm sitting here reading all the information I have in my inbox. Blogs from the NY Times Art and Design Section, the Philadelphia Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Art Biz Blog my own incoming email about classes and shows, etc. I am anxious to get to the studio and paint, but my work ethic says I have to answer all of my email, read all of the information in my inbox and update my blog before I can go paint. I really, really want to paint. So I'm wondering, what if I don't do any of these things? What if I just paint all day every day? What will happen?

You know I can't do that, I know I can't do that. The Myth of the Artist rears it's ugly head again. Do you know that myth? It goes like this: I will go to my studio and do wonderful, meaningful work, all day every day. I will just work as an artist in my studio and some how, some way, someone will discover me and give me a big show in a prestigious New York Gallery. The show will sell out. I will make thousands (maybe millions?) of dollars and live happily ever after, collectors and dealers banging my door down as I sit blissfully painting every day, all day.

Sounds ridiculous when I read it in black and white. But so many of us (me included) begrudge the non-painting work we need to do to make our careers viable. For a moment, imagine you are making tennis shoes instead of paintings. They're wonderful, whacky, colorful, comfortable tennis shoes. Your mom really likes them. You just know if Big 5 Sporting Goods carried them you'd be set for life. But you never call Big 5, never send them a sample, never visit the store. You keep your job at Denny's, just waiting for Big 5 to discover you. But they never do. Your tennis shoes never grace the feet of Beyonce or Michael Jordan. You get promoted to Manager at Denny's.

Now I have nothing against working at Denny's. I love breakfast! But if you are working at Denny's or temping at Bank of America, or fill in the blank somewhere when you could be making fabulous art and promoting it, you are doing yourself and the world a disservice. No it's not easy, yes it will take sacrifice but it's worth it! Your vision and your talent deserve to be shared.

So now what? Go to the studio and make art. Even if it's ten minutes at the end of a long day of working somewhere else. You will love yourself afterwards. And the world will be better for it. Keep doing those ten minutes, twenty minutes here and there. Eventually you will have a body of work. Then you can promote it.

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