Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Everything’s always about the Money!

I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of curious people wanting to know how much I earn as an artist. When I was honored with a feature, including links and recognition, it was the same: “Did you get paid?” Somehow, if I didn’t, I got screwed; forget the advertising and network opportunities.

Yes, it all boils down to money in the end. The difference between an amateur and a professional is not only the amount of time the artist spends working; it’s that he gets paid enough to “quit his day job.”

I haven’t reached that point yet, but that’s not why I paint. I paint because I have to. On a recent vacation, I sketched my daughter-in-law in 30 minutes and she was thrilled with the finished product. I was able to draw from a live model and get some extra practice in my down time. She had an original sketch revealing how others see her. It was a win win situation although not a nickel changed hands between us.

Don’t get me wrong. When I sell an original painting I’m thrilled; not only am I richer, I’ve opened up space for yet another canvas. When I sell prints off of an original, that’s a plus! That’s like interest from the original investment of time and money.

We artists are a little kooky. We think our gift to the world is valuable enough even if we don't get a monetary reward. After all, most of the famous painters of the past didn't receive recognition or recompense until after they died.

We're kooky in another way. We can’t see the sky without envisioning color and brushstrokes. A tree is not just a tree; it’s a series of negative spaces joined by curved and extended lines. The trunk is examined for various color and the grooved lines or smoothness distinctive to each individual species.

At family gatherings I not only see the people I love, I model their faces with imaginary brushstrokes, shapes and color. I spot artistic faces in a crowd, and I’m off and running. I can’t paint or draw all of the finished paintings I’ve created in my head while traveling in a car or bus.

What makes a true professional? Attitude! I am an artist. I am a writer. These two gifts are intertwined in my soul and both are meant to be used. If I make others happy, if I make people think or question their own motives and attitudes in the process, I've been successful whether money changes hands or not!