December 10, 2011
It happened again just a few days ago. The woman sitting next to me in exercise class asked if I was still exhibiting and selling my paintings. “Trying to,” I replied. Then she said what I have heard many times before. “I wish I knew how to paint. It must be wonderful to be an artist.” Yes, sometimes it is. But I wondered just what she thought an artist does. Our exercise leader was calling on us to lift our weights over our heads so I had no time to ask her. But I thought about it later.
Does she picture me in a well-equipped studio standing in front of a canvas on my easel creating a masterpiece? I paint inside mostly in cold or bad weather sitting in my bathroom. In supposedly good weather I’m outdoors sometimes gripping the canvas with one hand to keep it from being blown away by the wind. I’m picking tiny insects out of wet paint. I’m painting as fast as I can because the light, shadows and cloud patterns keeps changing.
And when it comes to painting masterpieces, I remove quite a few painted canvases from their stretchers and throw them away, then attach new canvases and try again. When I manage to paint something I really like I may enter it in an exhibit only to have it rejected. Or when I do exhibit it, no one wants to buy it. And I have often paid to have it in that exhibit. Meanwhile one of the cooperative galleries where I exhibit is on shakey financial ground and is asking for additional donations from the artists.
In spite of all that I’m glad I chose to be an artist. It is great to be outdoors trying to capture the wonders of nature. I’ve learned to really see, which is the first step to being an artist who paints the way things look, sort of. I’ve met so many other artists and enjoyed their work and their company. And some people actually like my paintings enough to want to hang them in their homes or businesses. Best of all, for many artists this is not something we need to retire from. We make adjustments but we keep on painting.