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  1. #21
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    So many of these comments have confirmed what I thought. Kids enjoy the process, adults are hung up on the results. So what if your product sucks? So what if you'll never sell a painting as long as you live? Art can be therapeutic, whether it's putting paintbrush to paper, molding a hunk of clay, or carving a block of wood.

    I've decided I'm going to start painting. I have always been a writer, but there are experiences going on in my skin that I simply can't articulate. I think I need a channel for processing those. I promise not to try to sell anything.
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

  2. #22
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    On the subject of popular attitudes about art:

    In addition to other factors mentioned in the thread, I think it is worth noting that a big chunk of commercial art has simply disappeared from Western societies, especially the "cottage industry" or home crafts sector. Furniture-making, pottery, figurines, clothing-making (stitching), and even quilting or stained-glass work has increasingly been off-shored to Mexico and now China, where it can be done more cheaply. That's not a bad thing per se; the work was labor-intensive and low paying.

    Still, the loss of that segment affects how art is perceived. Once upon a time, kilning of pottery and figurines was seen as a cheap, dependable home business that brought in some extra income. Or stitching skills learned in home economics class could be used to earn extra income via quilting, knitting, weaving, and sewing. Shop classes taught commercially viable woodworking and metalworking skills that didn't require a big investment in tools and equipment and could be used for furniture-building. So art and economics could come together for the average small guy.

    Nowadays, on the other hand, there is little or no economic application of art for the small guy. All that's left for the general public is art for personal enjoyment and personal hobbies (Martha Stewart-type crafts like scrapbooking for fun, or maybe macrame for therapy). Meantime, commercial art tends to be hi-tech (using expensive computerized design tools) or the fine arts (oil paintings and watercolors requiring years of study and/or apprenticeship).

    In turn, I think the schools reflect this process by de-emphasizing the more common skills that could be used for artistic purposes. Teaching "arts and crafts" skills is like teaching people how to drive horses and buggies--it may be fun, but there's just not much use for it anymore. There's no commercial infrastructure for it anymore.

    It's sort of like music. In the old days before radios and stereos, if you wanted music you had to make your own. So every home had a piano, an accordian, or maybe even a violin or a fiddle and a family member or two who knew how to play music. But nowadays music is easy to come by. So the average middle-class guy doesn't really see music lessons as economically viable or particularly useful. Aside from some church choirs or amateur barbershop quartets for fun, most commercial musicians are either low-paid and vaguely disreputable (kids trying to make a few bucks playing in rock bands) or talented/highly trained specialists (classical musicians and top-ranked popular artists). Meanwhile, the broad middle class is largely out of the music-making business.

    So I think art in general is mostly a labor of love for the small guy. That's not a bad thing. But just a decade or two ago, art was also a cottage industry for many families around America. Back then, artistic or craft skills were widespread, taught heavily in the schools, and respected as almost a survival skill. Nowadays, however, art skills are kind of a luxury for the leisure class--a labor of love for those willing to invest time in learning a skill without necessarily ever seeing financial return from it.

  3. #23
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Some great points, FineLine. Thanks for weighing in.

    It's worth noting the reason this stuff is rattling around in my brain lately. I have a couple of kids, and we keep a big cabinet full of crayons, markers, chalk, pastels, watercolors, different weights and colors of paper, magazine cutouts, and basically anything I come across that I think they might use in a project. Sometimes they want me to sit down and work with them. I'm not much of a playing mom and I don't really care for pretend games, so I figure reading to them and doing music and artsy shit is the best way for me to stay engaged without going nuts. I was surprised to find that when I got into making some kind of puppet thing with paper towel rolls and shit, I was able to shut off the constant mental chatter. I was actually content for an hour or so while we worked and talked. I didn't think once about bills, or people I'm mad at, or people who are mad at me, or any of that stuff that occupies me and drives me bananas.

    Now, I don't think because of this that I Am An Artist- but why would I NOT do stuff like this because what I produce is crap?
    The one who buggers a fire burns his penis
    -anonymous graffiti in the basilica at Pompeii

  4. #24
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    I agree, Ivy. There's probably a good therapeutic angle there. I was just throwing in some general comments for purposes of an overview.

    As for myself, I can't even draw a decent stick figure. But my wife is from Indiana, and she came from a cottage industry background.

    My wife used to do kilning of ceramics and porcelain at a time when it was still possible to make a profit. But trade agreements with China resulted in ceramic production going to China for a fraction of the cost, and the kilning industry in the U.S. collapsed. My wife still keeps her equipment around for some occasional fine arts projects with ceramics; but it's not economically viable as an industry, and the old businesses and suppliers have mostly sold out or shut down.

    She has seen a lot of her old acquaintances in the crafts business just close up shop and stop producing. Out of her old "arts and crafts" friends, about the only ones still doing business are the people doing high-end jewelry. Similar jewelry from overseas is subject to high duty rates when it enters the country, so the cottage industry folks can still make a profit.

    Nowadays my wife has gotten into decorative and fine-arts painting (these days mostly oils and watercolors). She belongs to about three art societies, and she has been taking classes through them and painting with them for years. She is good enough to win blue ribbons at various art competitions. But she figures it will still be years before she can see any kind of monetary return (if ever).

    FWIW, I think there really is a big therapeutic angle to art for her as well. She does a lot of concentration and detail work, and I think she likes exactly the kind of intense focus and clarity (clearing the mind) that you mention. She also likes tackling new styles and getting them under her belt so that she can look at a piece of decorative art and say, "I could do that painting."

    But it's not for everyone. It looks like a hell of a lot of work to me. I prefer to clear my head with physical activity (puttering around the house, practicing dance steps, doing a good hard workout, etc.). Also, booze helps.

  5. #25
    Senior Member raincrow007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    So many of these comments have confirmed what I thought. Kids enjoy the process, adults are hung up on the results. So what if your product sucks? So what if you'll never sell a painting as long as you live? Art can be therapeutic, whether it's putting paintbrush to paper, molding a hunk of clay, or carving a block of wood.

    I've decided I'm going to start painting. I have always been a writer, but there are experiences going on in my skin that I simply can't articulate. I think I need a channel for processing those. I promise not to try to sell anything.
    I think it's awesome that you're branching out into painting. It *IS* therapeutic, even if you feel like your fiished product is lacking. I have a number of private students that are older and have no real formal training, and they often express a similar sentiment -- something along the lines of "well I had an awesome time painting this, and I don't give a rat's ass if anyone else likes it."

    I've also found that if you have more than one creative endeavor going on at once that they tend to feed each other. You might find that painting on the side ends up influencing your writing and vice versa.

  6. #26
    Senior Member raincrow007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    I never wanted to be a professional artist, even though I always enjoyed art in various forms and I was praised for my artistic creations from an early age. I always knew that I needed a more secure/lucrative career. I'd imagine that's the case for most kids, and I don't think that's a bad thing...aren't there more than enough mediocre artists around?
    Quote Originally Posted by Sahara View Post
    I would have thought it was more to do with realising that he/she isn;t that talented in art as he/she grew older and learned what real standards of art are?

    I loved art as a child, but soon realised that I wasn't talented enough to make it as an artist, to me it's eaither an amazing piece of work, or it's crap, there is no inbetween, and since mine wasn;t amazing it wasn;t right for me.

    Same goes with all the professions I once dreamed of being, some life got in the way and some, like art, were simply my realisation that I wasn;t naturally talented at it.
    I think people tend to make quite a number of judgments like this "I'm not good enough to be a *real* artist/I don't have enough talent to make a living" etc., before they really have a chance to find out if their statements are true.

    With you two, I wonder who you were using as your standard for success? Sure, it's unlikely that you'll be selling for millions, but that's not to say you couldn't make a living as a working artist.

    Now in your case Sahara, I know you have a family, which is a different kettle of fish altogether so far as fiscal concerns go, but I still think it's a shame that you've possibly removed an area of expressiveness that could still give you a great amount of personal satisfaction.

    Hell, now I'm curious -- does anyone still dabble in the arts "on the side", and if so, how often, and with what amount of satisfaction?

  7. #27
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raincrow007 View Post
    I think people tend to make quite a number of judgments like this "I'm not good enough to be a *real* artist/I don't have enough talent to make a living" etc., before they really have a chance to find out if their statements are true.

    With you two, I wonder who you were using as your standard for success? Sure, it's unlikely that you'll be selling for millions, but that's not to say you couldn't make a living as a working artist.

    Hell, now I'm curious -- does anyone still dabble in the arts "on the side", and if so, how often, and with what amount of satisfaction?
    I never had the feeling that I wasn't good enough to be a "real" artist, provided I worked at it. My family was very encouraging in that regard, fortunately.

    However, I saw my options as

    1) pursue a career as art, which I saw as undesirable because:
    -it made art into work instead of fun
    -forced art into a schedule instead of something done when I'm in the mood
    -mainly self-motivated/self-promoted employment, which I would be miserable at
    -low but more importantly, irregular income in the field I would do (classical illustration) as a result of low demand and high competition

    2) find another career I like (currently biological research), and do art on the side as a hobby
    -higher income, more secure, less uncertainty
    -I don't run the risk of getting tired of art because I do it for fun
    -oh and I get attached to my art and don't like the idea of selling something I really like
    -as much as I like art, I don't have a passion for it like I do for nature...I know I'm heading in the right direction, at least roughly

    3) combine the two fields with some job like medical illustration, which I still consider, though not that seriously

    I didn't, and still don't see any downside to choosing the second option.

  8. #28
    Senior Member raincrow007's Avatar
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    Okay, the intrawebs mysteriously gobbled up my response to you just as I was about to finish it. *sighs* So I guess this will be the truncated version of something that was once upon a time... longer. :steam:

    *insert statement of I-come-in-peace/did-not-wish-to-offend-by-isolating-your-previous-response, etc. here*
    You do bring up some valid concerns regarding a career in art, though:

    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    1) pursue a career as art, which I saw as undesirable because:
    -it made art into work instead of fun
    *insert response along the lines of "I love what I do, therefore I'm doing it all the time anyway." here* Beats the hell outta having a boss too.
    -forced art into a schedule instead of something done when I'm in the mood
    I don't find this to be the case. When I feel like working, I work; I don't when I don't. *insert playful pointing out of detailed schedule in your blog, here*
    -mainly self-motivated/self-promoted employment, which I would be miserable at
    [Unfortunately this was the meatier portion of my post which has now vanished]. Basically, yes. This is the major bugbear I come up against the most often. However, there are ways around it -- including setting up freelance opportunities for yourself online, which still offers a fair degree of autonomy without having to do all of the annoying song and dance of self promotion. Basically you post a resume or examples of your work, and wait to see if someone contacts you. I've set up a shop on cafepress.com, for an itty bitty monthly fee -- I upload some images, slap them on stuff [or leave them as just a plain ol' print] and then get mailed a check as the orders roll in.

    Meh, but I'm blathering on about how I avoid the unwashed hordes -- I don't want sound like I'm trying to convert you, because I'd never be so presumptuous. I'm just tossing out my methods for how I bypass the shittier part of being an artist, in hopes that someone else could use the information [or even add to it!]
    -low but more importantly, irregular income in the field I would do (classical illustration) as a result of low demand and high competition
    Call me biased, but I think illustrators have far more chances of making a living over just plain painters. So do ceramicists, actually [to vaguely address FineLine's point]. The public tends to gravitate more readily to things that seem pretty concrete. [Ceramic coffee cups are used for coffee, a drawing of X is used to illustrate concept X, etc. this Makes Sense to the public] I'm not trying to be demeaning here at all -- it's just that professionally I've noticed this trend. *shrugs*

    2) find another career I like (currently biological research), and do art on the side as a hobby
    -higher income, more secure, less uncertainty
    -I don't run the risk of getting tired of art because I do it for fun
    -oh and I get attached to my art and don't like the idea of selling something I really like
    -as much as I like art, I don't have a passion for it like I do for nature...I know I'm heading in the right direction, at least roughly

    3) combine the two fields with some job like medical illustration, which I still consider, though not that seriously

    I didn't, and still don't see any downside to choosing the second option.
    Oddly enough, I was perhaps on a similar path -- honors bio student in college up until my junior year, with an eye toward med school and becoming a surgeon. I simply made the call in reverse, I suppose -- I had more passion for art than I did for biology.

    And FWIW, I considered medical illustration as well, but found it too stodgy for my tastes. Although that didn't stop me from making a small fortune in college by selling copies of my lab drawings before practicals.

  9. #29
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raincrow007 View Post
    Oddly enough, I was perhaps on a similar path -- honors bio student in college up until my junior year, with an eye toward med school and becoming a surgeon. I simply made the call in reverse, I suppose -- I had more passion for art than I did for biology.

    And FWIW, I considered medical illustration as well, but found it too stodgy for my tastes. Although that didn't stop me from making a small fortune in college by selling copies of my lab drawings before practicals.
    I wonder if bio and art go together for some reason....finding it interesting to see how all the small parts work together to make higher functions work, maybe? That's what it is for me, I think. Along with a love of nature perhaps being associated with both fields. My high school art teacher mentioned that a significant proportion of his better students over the years have gone on to bio in some form, which I found interesting.

    *insert statement of I-come-in-peace/did-not-wish-to-offend-by-isolating-your-previous-response, etc. here*
    I wasn't offended at all, if it seemed that way it's probably because I tend to be overly blunt sometimes.

    *insert playful pointing out of detailed schedule in your blog, here*
    lol...point taken. Though that's more of a last-ditch effort to raise my grades than a normal thing. But I hadn't really thought of that.

    My ideal job would be one where I go in for X hours, am given Y objectives, left alone to do them, and then I can leave my work without thinking about any of it again until the next morning. I don't really see that happening in art. Art seems more like a way of life than a traditional job, which I think I'd prefer, boring as it may be.

  10. #30
    Senior Member raincrow007's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    I wonder if bio and art go together for some reason....finding it interesting to see how all the small parts work together to make higher functions work, maybe? That's what it is for me, I think. Along with a love of nature perhaps being associated with both fields. My high school art teacher mentioned that a significant proportion of his better students over the years have gone on to bio in some form, which I found interesting.
    S'interesting, indeed. I think there might be something that draws [ha] on strengths inherent in both fields -- a sense of wonder, coupled with an interest in mechanics.

    I wasn't offended at all, if it seemed that way it's probably because I tend to be overly blunt sometimes.
    I didn't think that you were miffed outright, but wanted to cover that base [just in case] so that the discussion could continue. I feel for ya with the whole bluntness thing; obviously I've stepped on a few toes myself with my less-than-subtle approach to things.

    lol...point taken. Though that's more of a last-ditch effort to raise my grades than a normal thing. But I hadn't really thought of that.

    My ideal job would be one where I go in for X hours, am given Y objectives, left alone to do them, and then I can leave my work without thinking about any of it again until the next morning. I don't really see that happening in art. Art seems more like a way of life than a traditional job, which I think I'd prefer, boring as it may be.
    I think traditional jobs are great if you're geared for them. It just so happens that I'm not particularly suited for that sort of thing on a long term basis. I find more satisfaction in incorporating my natural tendencies toward creative mayhem into something lucrative rather than beating my head against the machinery of a long standing "traditional" sort of profession.

    Hooray for the path of least bullshit! May everyone find it, and walk upon it as befits their desire!

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