Should Art Be Work?

crochet-runner-deskI’ve been asking myself whether painting and design is still just a hobby; nothing more than a random occurrence of inspiration. Or do art and design represent a future I have never considered before?

Prior to being on long-term leave, I had several careers, almost all in corporate environments. Honestly, I’ve felt a bit at sea without that structure and the purposefulness offered by a regular job. I’ve been thinking lately that, although I no longer go to an office, there’s no reason I can’t incorporate some of the time management teachings that proved successful in former settings. So does that mean art is work? I suppose that depends on how one defines “work” and whether the outcome of that effort has value to you or the community of which you are a part.

Whether I concentrate on product or process as a measure of success, this is where I’ve chosen to put my creative energy. Why not take a page from musicians and writers. How do they improve and stay fresh? How do they learn new techniques and keep on top of their game? I think they do it by incorporating a bit of discipline. For me, that means painting or drawing every day, getting more adept at using the tools and various mediums. Experimenting and be willing to waste a few canvases. Even if it’s just an hour or two per day, the effort will pay dividends ─ whether or not it is immediately apparent.

Will every work be a masterpiece? Of course not. I’ll count myself lucky if I strike gold. That’s not what I’m looking for. What I want is to find a sense of purpose and plumb the depths of my capabilities; to get better at deconstructing my vision and reconstructing on the canvas or on the page. If this is what I truly want, then I must be willing to give myself over to it fully if I want to succeed. If this is what I truly want then, yes, art is work. My kind of work!

I’m On Board!

Dots and sky painting
Dots and Sky

There are times when you have to give fate a helping hand or, in my case, a handshake.

During the closing party for the Bridgeport Art Gallery exhibition, I approached a friendly-looking fellow with my outstretched hand. I assumed he was another artist showing his work. Turns out he was one of the judges for the juried exhibition.

I pressed ahead, deciding to ask for feedback on my piece and on ways that I could improve my work. I expected he would speak to color and composition. Instead, he suggested I try another substrate that, unlike canvas, resists rather than absorbs paint. He also urged me to play more with finishes and mediums that make colors advance instead of recede.

I was so jazzed that I rode that, “I guess I really could be an artist” wave all the way to the art supply store the next day. Baby got (birch) board and gloss varnish. I tried it and what you see here is the result. I’m a believer! This is so fun.