How to be an Artist (with a capital A)


I listened to a podcast from The Savvy Painter yesterday regarding selling artwork professionally and making the leap from ‘day job’ to full time professional artist.  They discussed imagining what you want your life to look like, and actually writing it down-  For example, what does ‘successful artist’ mean to you- Not someone else’s idea of it.  I had found similar thoughts in the book “The Artist’s Way”- visualizing what it is to be an artist.

Here’s what I thought it was:  You grind your way thru an art school, living on alcohol and sIMG_0510craps of food you find so you can afford your art supplies.  Graduate (or if you are really an artist, drop out to prove you don’t need the establishment to tell you how to paint); after graduation, move to New York, work a handful of odd ball jobs, live on a friend’s floor or a bench if necessary and paint when you can.  Default on student loans if you have them.  Critique everyone else’s art, complaining the entire time that the artist ‘got lucky’ ‘knew someone’ or ‘is sleeping with someone’ to get the gallery exposure.

I won’t admit to which on that list I have done.  I will tell you that I did not default on my loans- Because after college and a brief stint in New York, I chickened out, listened to my fears and the ones of those around me, and got a “real job” in sales.

To this day, I make every excuse not to paint.  I don’t even have a ‘real job’ anymore, and I still find myself surfing Facebook, drinking one more cup of coffee, do a few loads of laundry– even though my new studio is set up and ready to go.

What the hell am I afraid of? Maybe actually selling a painting? I can barely bring myself to tell people that my job is “Artist”- I stumble on the words and mutter something about being a stay at home Mommy until I figure out what I want to do.

I- Am- An- Artist.  Time to get over it, get the paints and canvas out and put them together- come what may.

What I left behind

I left a house full of personal items behind- couches, tvs, entertainment, books, knick-knacks, trinkets- It was easier to walk away then try to sort and box and sell and donate and so on.

But nagging me is that house full of my stuff.  I have brought some here to my new home; selectively, just what I need- the antiques and extras I will need to sort some more and decide if it will bring me more joy with me or if it’s path is out of my house.

My husband’s house still looks and feels like it’s his home.  My tiny additions don’t add to the overall feel- if anything, they are swallowed up in the expanse.

Adding some of my artwork will help.  As Vince grows and adds to his collections, we will soon merge with the space.  It’s the in between time that is difficult.   I never imagined living in a home this large trying to fill the space. I sound out of touch, but I don’t mean it at all in that way–  I was thrilled with my tiny cottage and the cozy space. Bad memories of my last relationship stained the place though, and it may be impossible to get the past scrubbed away from there. Not only the memories, but the anger at what could have been and how it’s now empty and alone.

I left behind my personal things, but I carry their weight with me.

Thoughts on marrying a Non-Minimalist

Just about the time I began my work on minimalizing my life, I met my future husband.  I sorted and donated books; photographed artwork then burned it; packed the most basic and essential clothing I needed for my move– He bought a 3000 square foot home.

If you let it be an issue, marrying a non-Minimalist is akin to marrying someone of the opposite political party- it will stain every conversation, make you question your partners morals, and worse, make you second guess your decision to be in the relationship.

Because I love and therefore respect this man, I have made the conscious decision not to let his differing attitude on material possessions corrupt my otherwise idealized image of him.

I try to understand where he is coming from when we have different points of view on keeping an item that may be past it’s usefulness.

I broke the tip off of an old kitchen knife the other day.  We easily own 15 various kitchen knives, not including the steak knife collection.  As I went to discard the broken one, (after properly thanking it for service, Kon-Marie style)- my husband cradled it, thoroughly inspecting it, and said “Oh, this is still good, we can use it for cutting up the dog’s food”.

I stood dumbfounded.  Instead of trying to convince him, or plead my case, I silently watched him put the knife back in it’s drawer.

I am fascinated by his reasoning for keeping items “just in case”.  Give him an object, and in minutes he can discover a potential situation years in the future that we may need that object, and then safely tuck it back in it’s home. My husband is the most logical and sensible person I have ever met. He is also frugal, but not to the point of cheapness.

We have two couches that are in great shape but 1) Don’t match our décor 2) are Cream White so the dogs and child would destroy and 3) are in the way of me and setting up my art studio.   My husband’s thought on keeping them? “I hate to throw out a perfectly good couch”   To his point, they are good– but they are not for us.  They have other homes, somewhere out there in the world.  On this point, I am trying to convince him to at least donate them to charity.

A few years ago, I was in the same mind-frame as he is now.  I kept items for sentimental value, to remember memories, and again, Just in case I need it.   Now, I have found freedom in letting go- I was able to move my son and I with just some basics when I married, and felt only a small amount of anxiety at leaving behind many items from my past.

But as we travel our journey in this life, now together, it really is about picking your battles, and remembering to see things from the other person’s point of view.  Is a broken knife a good reason to pick a fight to break the marital peace and bliss of a home?  If I had, the argument would not have been about the knife; it would have been about me trying to assert my control over his own- then becoming a power struggle totally unrelated and very much unnecessary in our otherwise loving relationship.  I try to keep that in mind any time I feel upset about decisions- is it really the decision that angers me, or the thought I didn’t get my own way?