was what Ben, my fiance, told me last night while we were driving. I had just received another bill for another medical expense that I'd racked up in the last few weeks from a series of time consuming illnesses I'd gotten this summer.
To give you some background, this was the summer I was using as a test. It was a test to see if I could really do "it". "It" being - be a real artist for at least a certain length of time. This opportunity had come to me at the end of May, when three out of my four part time jobs became inactive for the summer. I was going to have three solid months to spend on my art, only working as an Assistant Marketing Director a couple mornings a week for extra cash. I had saved up enough to pay rent and utilities and all necessary living expenses for three full months.
But how was I to know that Ben and I would have to move 3 times over the course of two months under circumstances totally out of our control? Or that I would get so sick that for five weeks I was basically bedridden, watching episode after episode of Dawson's Creek reruns while being constantly misdiagnosed and craving nothing but turkey sandwiches when I had so recently taken the plunge to be vegetarian?
I obviously didn't know any of these things would happen. And fast forward to last night - I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, with my weakened savings account and just a couple small drawings to show for my big I'm-Going-To-Make-It summer. But then Ben reminded me, that this isn't supposed to be easy. And he's right. Sometimes I forget what being an artist is really all about. I get this false idea in my head that I have to prove to everyone that it's possible to make all my money as a full time artist. I also think that once I am able to do this, everyone will be able to see that I took care of myself, that going to college for Painting and Printmaking wasn't such a goofy idea, and that all this time working 3, 4 or 5 jobs at a time was worth it.
But that's not what being an artist is all about. It has nothing to do with money, and proving yourself to others should never be your biggest goal. It's about the real struggle of realizing the darkness inside of you and turning it into something that you can see as beautiful. It's about waking up in the middle of the night with an idea for a painting that's so inspiring it's actually worthy of getting out of your warm comfy bed to start working on it. It's about finding inspiration while reading some great book for five hours straight without realizing the time. It's about knowing that no matter how many times you draw your Ben, your drawing will never look half as good as the real one. I have to remind myself of these things often. It's so easy to get caught up other's definitions of success and spend too much time focusing on the money you don't have. The important thing is to find your own definition of personal success and happiness, and then stick to it.
So the summer is over, my three jobs start back up on Monday and I've decided to stop feeling sorry for myself. In the grand scheme of things, I am a lucky person with a great support system. And really, three months isn't a very long time, and there's a lot to be said for challenges.
And while these words are coming from a penniless painter, I still think they are worthy of sharing. We all have to start somewhere, right?
In the comments section, I'd love to read your opinions on what you believe it means to be an artist!
Hi friends! Welcome to the blog! I'm Mandy and I'm an artist, blogger & founder of the "Artists to Know" interview series. Here you'll find photos of my latest art adventures, furniture makeover projects & advice from successful artists!
Looking for new art? Click below: