Being an artist. Nurturing your passion. Why it’s not easy. How it’s possible. Keep the faith. Love art!
I sometimes think I’m quite idle and very fortunate to be out of the rat race and able to paint to my heart’s content. But actually I do get quite a lot of other things done too.
This morning, for instance, I’ve mucked out the barn (the ponies come in for their hay every night) walked all around the valley with Tiptoe, loaded and brought in a wheelbarrow full of wood for the woodburner which I light every evening throughout the Winter months, and cleaned the glass of said woodburner and laid the fire for tonight. Also made jellies as I like having something sweet after supper. Over the last few days a few paintings have sold so I’ve also packed those and processed the paper work (takes me ages) and finished writing Christmas cards and sorted out and wrapped all the presents I’ve been gathering over the last few weeks and packed them for the courier or the post, depending on size, too.
Phew! Now, as I’m having a quiet Christmas this year, just about everything is done and yes – I can start painting again.
All this – and mostly it’s just me and my little clan of animal friends to look after. If I had a family or even full-time partner to care for, how on earth would I find the time, solitude and special energy it takes to let my creativity flow?
My most financially successful artist friend (and one time tutor), once told me that, before he was famous but longing to stop being the breadwinner and focus on painting, he realised he was fighting a losing battle when his sister’s advice struck a feeling of dread in his heart. She said: Oh for goodness sake, why can’t you just paint on Sundays?
He realised then that now his kids were independent he simply had to take the plunge of giving up the day job, and let his immense creativity and talent become his prime purpose in life.
I didn’t have the confidence to rely on my creativity to make my living until my late thirties either. Until then I’d been married and neither of my husbands had encouraged me – in fact the last one was staunchly downright discouraging. ‘You can’t write,’ he’d say, or ‘you’re hopeless at painting. Why don’t you just go easy on yourself and give up trying.’
Thankfully, I’d had several glimmers of hope to keep the flame of creativity and self-belief alight over the years. My dad recognised that my sister and I had deep wells of natural creativity and encouraged any fledgling attempts. Mum although more practical than artistic, loved colour and beauty, good books and paintings and her enjoyment was infectious. We’d send stories and letters off to editors of comics and kids’ magazines and to our favourite authors and were thrilled by any positive response and even, occasionally, publication.
Later, while earning a bread and butter living, I continued to write and was always joyous when an article was accepted by a main-stream magazine or newspaper.
So my denigrating spouses didn’t succeed in stopping me from letting my creativity flow, and in time I became a full time journalist, agony aunt and author. Nowadays online and studio sales have enabled painting to take over as my main creative passion. (Although there may be another book in me yet!)
But my heart goes out to anyone who lacks encouragement, time and space to let their creativity flow.
My heartfelt advice is to keep the flame alive, somehow, somewhere. Keep practising. Make the time. Just as the maxim of saving a tenth of our income will one day make us financially secure, so dedicating an hour of your day to your art will keep your spark brightly glowing and one day when your commitments to others lessen, you’ll be able to bask in the luxury of more creative time.
Whatever your passion – keep the faith. I wish you great joy in it.
And a very Happy Christmas.
With love and light, Jenny