Sunday, March 22, 2009

. . . answered first question

Leslie Miller asked four questions in her recent blog post. The first was "What do you get back from your art?"

In just concrete terms, I actually make money from my art, which obviously helps to support me. The fact that people actually buy my art gives me some validation and the impetus to keep making it. I consider making art my job, in a sense that it's something I have to do to keep the cash flowing in. Fortunately, it's also fun, so while it may be a job, it's not something I have to force myself to do (okay, sometimes it is.) I ask myself, "Would I still make art even if I never sold another piece?" The answer is yes. Because it's something I feel compelled to do. The monetary gains were of secondary importance until just recently. But here's what weird: I think I would make more interesting art if I didn't have the selling part of it in the back of my mind all the time. When money enters the equation, creativity and the sense of freedom required for creativity seem to skedaddle. Which is probably part of an answer to another of Leslie's questions, which I will address in a later post.

More abstract rewards are numerous. My art gives me an outlet for my creativity. I discovered that no matter how practical or pragmatic one may be, everyone is creative in some way. Anytime I solve a problem, I'm being creative. Many times making art is a matter of solving problems. I don't need instructions or a recipe; if I screw something up, I think of ways to either incorporate it or fix it.

For me, painting is a solitary experience. Since I am a hermit by nature, this usually doesn't bother me too much. But through my art, I have made connections, both personally and on the internet, with other artists. There is a community of sharing and mentoring artists that sustains me and encourages me and helps me every single day.

My art affords me the opportunity to learn new things every time I am in the studio. Maybe it's how two different colors interact; or how to use a medium of some sort, or what would happen if I put some sand in the paint; or how can I make this painting better; or why do I paint the way I do, when I really want to be able to paint like the guy in the YouTube video, flinging and splashing paint around and coming up with amazing art, when all I come up with a mess of mud. I'm still working on that last one.

Painting gives me a sense of accomplishment, of a job well done; or it whispers to me, "Mary, you have just mailed this one in. You can do better." It gives me joy, when things are going well, and it gives me grief when they are not. It redirects my attention, calms me down when things are upsetting, makes me concentrate on things outside myself. It teaches me patience. It has taught me to accept and enjoy many different forms of art and appreciate the efforts of every artist. And, perhaps subconsciously, it provides an outlet for expressing emotions that are hidden too deep inside myself for me to even recognize. And, like gardening, it's cheaper than therapy.


Leslie Avon Miller said...

Beautiful. This is so poignant it brought tears to my eyes. Thank you Mary, for thinking, sharing and valuing your beautiful process.

bob cornelis said...


A wonderful answer to the question. Clearly the riches art gives you are not limited just to the monetary. How many people in the world have anything in their lives that bestows upon them what you describe?