Uuuuuuuggggghhhhhh. Why did I become an artist? Why can’t I be good at coding, or rocket science, or accounting, or marrying rich men? Why do I have to be good at something that is so damn hard to make a living doing? I need to rearrange the room-where-art-goes-to-die so that I can bury more art in it. I’m out of art storage space. I mean, really, that room is so embarrassing I’m not even going to share a picture with you.
But Emily, you say, you do make a living as an artist. Don’t you own a paint and sip studio? Yes, yes I do. Which means what I’m really making a living at is teaching. Yes, I’m teaching people to play with paint, but that’s not the same things as being an artist.
What they don’t tell you in art school is that you’ll need to spend more time marketing your art than creating it. This holds true for other kinds of art, too: acting, singing, writing…pretty much everything for which I have any vague talent. Hell, I wrote a damn book full of pictures and words and chortles and sniffles and now am overwhelmed trying to just sell one book every couple weeks. I am not a marketer. I hate sales. Schmoozing is my worst nightmare. And when you’re selling your art, you’re selling yourself as much as the painting or manuscript or recording. Selling should really just be called begging. I often say that I’m not a writer despite this blog and my book, and I think one of the reasons for that is that I’m hesitant to own yet one more thing I’ll never make a living doing.
Lately, I’ve been feeling like I’m really-uber-super-extra spinning my wheels. I’ve tried so many things to get my work out there, and none have panned out. I’m tired of feeling like a failure. It’s not that I doubt the quality of my work, it’s that I doubt my ability to get it seen by the people most likely to buy it (whoever the hell those people are). I get shut down so easily by rejection, so it’s really hard for me to keep pushing and rolling with them as they come. I am, admittedly, too sensitive. I hate that about myself, and I’m trying to toughen up, but so far, I’m still all soft and squishy.
And so, as happens every couple years, I find myself in an existential crisis: how do I justify spending so much time, money, and effort making art that’s just going to sit in our third bedroom collecting dust? Do I really need to paint? Could I just…stop? What would that be like? Do I do it because it’s a habit or because it’s what I’m passionate about? I don’t read art magazines or follow the latest art trends. I studied art history in college, but I’m still woefully ignorant and disinclined to correct said ignorance. So if art isn’t in my blood per se, then why the hell do I keep doing it? Boredom? Maybe I just need another hobby. Maybe I should take up wingsuit flying, or collecting swords, or falconry. I swear, half the time painting’s not even fun. There’s always a step or two you have to get through to get to the good stuff. But then, I guess, half the time it is fun, and maybe that’s why I keep going? Though the let down when I add a new painting to the piles of other art that haven’t found a forever home (or maybe they have, and it’s in storage, which is even sadder) kinda negates the fun of making it.
I’m leaving in a couple days for a trip down the Seine with my mom. I’ll be gone for about 2 weeks. I’ll be bringing my watercolors, but maybe I’ll experiment with not painting for awhile and see how that feels. Maybe I’ll see so much great art on the trip that I won’t feel like I need to make more. Maybe there’s already enough. Or maybe I’ll be totally inspired and feel like I absolutely have to waste more time and energy. We’ll see.
Anyway, I’ve lined up a couple guest blogs and will post some old paintings and such while I’m gone so you don’t end up totally bereft without me. Drink some French wine in my honor until I return! Or better yet, drink some bourbon.