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The Art of Being a Failed Artist

Originally published in The Liberty Beacon, a powerful online news site.


 When I was twelve, I knew I was a painter, same as I knew I was a girl. Actually, I knew it better than that because what you know as a being, inside where it counts, is truth at its highest level. You might say it’s all the truth there is, despite the apparency of land, sky, houses, trees and the IRS.

However, in the physical universe (your competition), things have a way of taking your basic purpose and banging it around, along with you, till it turns into something else, And YOU, that awesome powerful being, become someone else. Or many “someones.” Too often, we “must” do what our mom or dad or Uncle Harry did which we don’t dare question because we might come down with the disease of “regretitis.” That usually happens on deathbeds. We don’t want to go there.

Well, I went along with the beaten down crowd and didn’t paint for forty years – except for occasional Christmas cards. I did the right thing, that all-too-often substitute for living. This is a harsh universe to navigate, a you-better-listen-to-me! kind of deal. So, in the end, you conclude that you’d better listen or you and your body are not going to make it.

Is any of this familiar yet?

Believe me, though, I’m not at all advocating sitting cross-legged on a mountain top to get away from it all. It can get cold and the cell tower reception is really bad. No, life is to be enjoyed – family, friends, good food, lots of sleep, movies, laughs, etc. And producing a good product that you are proud of could be the greatest pleasure of all.

Regarding the last bit, if you can do that, regardless of where the product falls on the scale that goes from “your highest purpose” to “little purpose,” you are still on the road to what you should be doing – which is what you decided to do many years ago. That’s very important to understand – YOU decided.

Unfortunately, you might have been taught to forget or disregard what’s most dear to you because the brick and mortar world is so much greater than you (??) Here’s the part where you forgive your parents for swaying you in the direction of being a “solid citizen” because they were taught that very same lie. GET REAL is the ultimate chant sung down through the centuries.

Again, I have to clarify: raising children, making a living, mowing the lawn, paying taxes and bills, going to funerals of family members you never liked are all “products” of living and vital to life if you want to stay in the game, as you should. But I’m talking about the world or room in your mind you might rarely visit. It’s OK, you can go there; it’s toll-free.

So one day, I paid a visit to that part of my world where I had plastered a “no entry” sign. Or one that said, “forget it girl, it’s too late.” I did have a drawing table set up where the dust weighed more than the paint and brushes. Nevertheless, I sat there.

 You know what I did? I just LOOKED at it all. I didn’t think or berate myself or cry with remorse at wasting over half my life not painting. I just looked. I had learned a very valuable concept and practice – that looking is far superior to thinking. So I decided to try it out. Well, lo and behold, I came to a startling conclusion. I realized I had never learned to paint! The next image that came to mind was when I was eight years old, trying to draw a face from a magazine. It was hopelessly bad, as the tears fell on the page. That was a big nail in my self-made coffin.

A few years later, I went to a few art schools where no one taught me any basics of painting – except one great old guy with a constant cigar in his mouth and a twinkle of compassion in his eyes. He was a commercial artist and taught me most of what I know now about drawing. But, aside from that, I was encouraged to “express myself.” Well, what I mostly expressed was incompetence. That led to frustration and down on to giving up.

So, after the revelation at my drawing board, I went to the library the next morning and took out several books on painting. I cleared up many terms I never understood and began painting. I painted every day after work and all weekend, while housekeeping just had to wait.

A few months later, I exhibited with others at my very first show in a movie theatre and sold my first painting for $1750. I was stunned.

I went on to sell many more paintings but I have to say something else that is very important – marketing is as equally vital as talent. I read something once I’ll never forget, that promoting and marketing yourself should take up at least half of your energy if you want to make it as an artist, especially a fine artist. When I didn’t apply that valuable datum, I didn’t sell any paintings. No one knows you unless you tell them who you are and what you do!

I hope this helps to clarify some things for and I welcome any comments.

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  • Tommy Hansen on

    Love it!
    It gave me the courage to look a little bit more.

  • Dan Locke on

    You are one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. I hope we talk again.

  • toni clarkson on

    Thank you! You write as well as you paint. I enjoyed the insight! Very well stated. Love your art too.

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