art as vocation: old belief systems and new
Now artists are sincere people who have a feeling and must express it. Make no mistake. They are our aristocrats. They have a vision of life around them and want to show it to us....
...how can you help artists? Buy paintings. Don't ask anyone's advice. If you like it, get it. If you have to spend 150, 000 for an Old Master - yes, get the experts. But a living artist's painting... - just buy it.
When buying a picture, you cannot imagine how you are keeping the artist alive and working! And a pat on the back is not enough. What if a business got only a pat on the back and that was all there was to it? And that somebody wants his painting - you cannot imagine what that does for the artist! They do not even spend the money, or celebrate. They get that faraway look; they cannot hear what you say even. There only thought is, "I think I will go home now quick! and paint another one!"
- Juliana Force
As a living artist and a painter, when I read this quote by Juliana Force, I immediately feel affirmation and comfort. In fact, I have never read anything that expresses artists placement and purpose in the community so simply and gracefully. Yes, if Juliana Force was living today, she would be speaking for me here. I would choose to listen to her voice.
Sometimes I go through phases where I feel as though I should apologize for being an artist altogether. This is a passing insecurity, though, and only follows old belief systems where I don't want to place power...anymore. These old belief systems (that I never consciously chose, only inherited from somewhere?) say things like "art is a hobby", "the life and times of a starving artist", "How is this considered art? Anyone could paint this." I may or may not address these statements/labels/questions later. For now, I want to speak more about what I do believe.
First of all, art chose me. Art chose me just like whatever you are called to do, chose you. If your vocation feels properly aligned with your entire sense of being and purpose, then you know this feeling. If your vocation doesn't feel this way, if you are feeling a lack of purpose, like you are going through the motions of your day, chasing your tail, wondering how it's possible to be fulfilled in life, well, if I may interject here, if you still just have a little spark of something left, something willing to investigate what that may be, I would highly recommend fueling that spark. It is never too late.
But I digress...
I happened to overhear a conversation yesterday where someone purchased a 4300 dollar couch. Hearing dollar amounts of what people spend and how they choose to spend their money are interesting to me. I have no judgements one way or the other. Truly. What I am more interested in is whether or not their purchases or how they choose to spend their money align with their inner beings. This person may feel a complete sense of affirmation and long term delight in having this particular couch. It may be that this particular couch feels like it was made just for them. There is something so incredible about that. Last spring I purchased a dress that I felt was made just for me. It fit me like it had been tailored for me and everything about it was just right. It feels amazing to wear that dress. And this is important.
And this also got me thinking and talking, again, to that insecure artist in me once more. All of the sudden, I didn't feel so apologetic for being an artist and for pricing (or placing value on) my work.
It's really just as simple as this: some people value original art work just as others value purchasing a couch, or going to the salon every month for 6 months, eating out in fine establishments weekly or in making a car payment over the span of several years.
I think about how each painting I create comes from a place within me that is mysterious to even myself, how each piece requires an inner reflection and trust. I think about how, even if I tried with all my might, I could never replicate a piece that, for some reason, spoke to many and sold immediately to one.
I love what Rollo May says about artists. I identify so much with this quote as well: "When I use the word 'rebel' for the artist, I do not refer to revolutionary or to such things as taking over the dean's office...Artists are generally soft spoken persons who are concerned with their inner visions and images...Forever unsatisfied with the mundane, the apathetic, the conventional, they always push on to newer worlds..."
In other words, creating art is work. And my new belief system (or the one I consciously am choosing, again, today) reminds me that this work is valuable. It is not easy, no, but it is of me and it is what I have to offer.
By all means, do not purchase art that doesn't speak to you in some way, that doesn't call to an inner place inside of you. I think I can speak for most artists when I say that we do not want our art to sell for the sake of selling. We want each and every piece to find that person who feels like that particular painting was painted just for them. We couldn't ask for anything more affirming or more grand in fact.
And so, for today, I will keep painting.