I’m a creative, experienced, multi-purpose artist
who can take projects start to finish in a variety of styles.

Good designs sell – mine sell out!

Friday, July 6, 2012

"Suspend"

Dad wanted me to be an engineer.  “That’s a good field for women!”  Bleh.  No, I was going to be an artist.  I knew that when I was 12.  I remember the moment I knew that too.  I was in 6th grade, and had one of Mom’s women’s magazines with a painting of a Breck girl on the back cover which I was trying to draw on a piece of lined notebook paper.  An older boy, almost a man, came to visit my teacher and I hovered around the edges and heard them discussing the boy’s studies in commercial art in high school.  I knew I wanted to take commercial art too.  My destiny was in motion.

That was the year I had to take an aptitude test, and the teachers decided that I should become a scientist.  “Science is a great career for a woman!”  No.  A-R-T-I-S-T.  I think the teachers were weeping in the smoking lounge while I was at recess because some great scientific discovery was being lost by my silly career plans.  I had variations of these discussions with various adults up to and through the high school commercial art program.  “Art is a great hobby, but you won’t make any money!”  “Illustrators are a dime a dozen!”  Too bad, leave me alone.  I have focus.  The adults left me alone after I got a scholarship to college.

Today I saw “suspend” as the word for the week, and a string of dangling, suspended things passed through my mind before it finally occurred to me that what’s hanging in a state of suspension is me.  I don’t have the focus of a 12-year-old any more.  I’ve been mistreated by the career of my choice too many times to feel exuberance and love for it.  It’s like marrying an alcoholic husband whom I somehow can’t seem to leave.  I think I’m at the “let’s be friends” stage of my art relationship, but art is how I’ve paid the bills, so it’s kind of hard to really end the relationship. 

I’m kidding myself anyway.  I went to a Rembrandt exhibit a while ago and had sweaty palms and heart palpitations in his presence, so I can’t really get over my art obsession.  I just don’t know what I want to do with that obsession any more.  Rembrandt lived through it himself.  He was popular and rich, blew it all, his style fell out of favor, and then he had to rebuild himself.  Life is tough for artists.  Do I still have time to become a scientist or engineer?

I recently took a PT job which both uses, and doesn’t use, my acquired skills in the field.  I’m feeling mixed about this, especially since the job is for a religious organization.  (If God led me to this job, it’s proof that God has a really wacked sense of humor!)  The job is close to home and a pretty environment.  My boss and coworkers are grownups and know their jobs.  All in all, it’s a pleasant way to pay the bare essential bills while theoretically giving me time to pursue my art addiction on the side.  I’m a bit undecided if I’m just suspending my state of suspension, or maybe this is the best of all worlds?  It’s cutting into my personal blog time, but I guess I can’t have everything.

But if I had to do it again?  Yeah, I’d pick art – even though I did my best to talk my niece out of following in my footsteps.  “Don’t you have any other talents?!”  I found myself repeating all that stuff I didn’t listen to when adults were telling me to go into a different field.  It’s too late for that niece now, and I guess for me too.  She’s in college and happily showed me a package design she made at school when she visited last weekend.  I swear, art is a genetic defect, but it’s great work when you find it!

28 comments:

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    1. Hear hear Linda. I too have a love/hate relationship with this thing called "art". I think most creative people do. But you have to admit that driving a taxi, or some such other thing, just doesn't come close, even if you might make more money at it...

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  2. Well, I didn't follow it, despite getting art scholarships. Here and there I did, but I fell into soul-killing office jobs (not even high paying ones) and let it mostly go for 20 years. I feel pretty good now that I've got a solid year under my belt but I do regret all the experience I might have garnered in those missing years. I guess I am saying you made the right choice. But you knew that. ;)

    Love the illustration. I thought it was a ball of bandages. I suppose that fits! We could all use one, moving through this life as we do.

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  3. Such and interesting illustration. I suspect, had you become and engineer or a scientist, you would have migrated back to art eventually. It kind of happens that way (believe me, I know ;)).

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  4. I don't know what the illustration is supposed to be. It just happened when I was thinking about feeling suspended. Maybe a ball of bandages is appropriate? I kind of migrate to the sciences by hanging out with those types in my spare time. Maybe we can't be all one thing or another? Thanks for the comments everybody!!

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  5. I think most of us have been suspended here and there; occupation being a biggie. I'm reminded of a couple posts I wrote a while back - I Used to Be a Computer Programmer, and Passion. See what I mean. :)

    One of my kids tells me she wants to be "an artist." I wouldn't be suprised if she ended up teaching. She's great a creating things, like a dress made of duck tape, as opposed to drawing or painting. We'll see. Guess there's no stopping her if it's meant to be... like your niece. They'll be fine(from my lips to God's ears.) :)

    As for you, (positive) fate will take you to surprising places.

    Just don't let that suspended ball unravel and fall apart! I hope it's hanging from a secure place.

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  6. Having never had a passion for anything (no, I'm serious. I've had brief enthusiasms, but I've never had that feeling of "this is where I need to go"), I suppose it's a good thing that I fell into a job where I have to be a generalist. Still, I envy people who've had dreams, even if they don't always have the happiest endings. Or mids, I should say. You never know what an ending is until you're there, really.

    What's worse, do you suppose -- to feel suspended, or to be eternally scattered? I don't have the answer, obviously, but I find it an interesting thought...

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  7. I had very much the same experience with ballet, although it hit me a little later. In 7th grade I was walking along and became convinced I was meant to be a dancer. After that it was an obsession. But....I have short legs, a real detriment in ballet. All the adults said, "teach, teach." I said "to hell with that." I had a professional career, not in a famous company or anything, but I was a dancer! Lucky for me there is an expiration date on ballet - your body stops bending as easily and it's hard to go on. Decision made for me, I stopped and went elsewhere. But I still have that extreme satisfaction.

    I'm so glad you did your art! And share your stories with us.

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  8. Part of your blog is incorrect. Your niece (my daughter) is not pursuing an education in art.
    Here is a link to her major in Digital Information Design:

    http://www.winthrop.edu/majors/default.aspx?id=9941

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  9. Seems like some fathers still don't approve of their daughters going into creative fields. Hey, I didn't say anything untrue or announce my niece's major or college. I said she studied package design. Looking at her curriculum, she taking a lot of courses that put her in alliance with the graphics field. Wherever she ends up professionally, I'm wishing her well.

    Thanks for the comments! I'm debating the choice between being suspended or scattered, and guessing I'd rather be suspended -- even if that means I'm sometimes scattered too. And I guess I'd rather be an artist than a dancer because artists don't have expiration dates? But then, maybe it would be a good idea for artists to get off our chairs once in a while too :)

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  10. I think you are in lots of good company. You have to have a really thick skin to be in this business. It is even tougher than it used to be which is a bit disheartening. We just keep pushing along doing what we can't seem to help doing.

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  11. Oh Linda! You made the best choice. You get to use your soul when you are an artist. You g et to pay the bills when you are a scientist. That's why so many scientists become artists, who cares about bills when your spirit gets to fly? You know, the scientists are smart and they finally admit they made the wrong choice. I share my studio with a Barrister a General Practitioner (MD), A solicitor, a school teacher, a physiotherapist an optometrist (Yes I share it with myself) we are all searching for some kind of meaning in our lives. Of course there's God, but there's also 'art' making art I mean.

    The average artists in Oz earns 10,ooo pa, but at least they have fun.

    :) Love your illustration of course, you can feel the weight in it.

    see you :)

    By the way, the world would be sadly lacking if you chose science. Course you can have it both ways :)

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  12. Hmm I better sit down and make an award for you :) The LH award. I gave Karen The Triple Wow award last week :)

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  13. I met a retired engineer who paints gorgeous little landscapes on rocks. He doesn't charge much because he does it for fun and doesn't need the money. Sometimes getting the practical job first gives you a lot more money for the art addictions later. But then, he had to be an engineer for a really long time before he got to the sweet spot.

    I think your studio must be a very fun place to hang out Andrew. I'm glad you're back online. It just hasn't been as much fun without you!

    Thanks for the comments!!

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  14. Illustrators are so dime a dozen. And almost every last one of them are so skilled and talented. Shoot! There aren't enough jobs for all of us. We need to kick some of them out of the egg carton. We'll tell the best ones that they are bad eggs. But in reality they are swans! Shoot again.

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  15. You're a typical example (me too) of how we artists really become artist in spite of our education and upbringing... if we are still arting as adults, then we win; it means we were meant to do art. All the practical stuff, and bill paying usually finds its way one way or another, but to be an artist is to swim upstream and up the waterfalls. It's a privilege.

    .

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  16. As a scientist who has not wanted to do anything else since he was 6, I can say that it's not always fun when you've always known what you wanted to do (not counting wanting to be a fireman until I found out that firemen PUT OUT fires). While I was working outside my field it was particularly excruciating to know that what my soul really wanted was getting farther away every day. My world would be sadly lacking if I had not gone back to school to pursue my true love and passion.

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  17. wonderful mix of organic tension & soothing color! As always enjoyed your post too - love the idea of art as a genetic defect :)

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  18. LOL Phil about the disappointment of firemen putting out fires! You make a good point about feeling a passion about whatever you want to do, and it doesn't have to be art. It just is for me. I completely agree with you Sharon that there are too many really wonderful artists, but let's all switch our hopes to work for all of us! And yes, Richard, art is a priviledge. Even when it torments me, I'm still grateful to have the chances to do it.

    Thanks for the follow Stacey!!!

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  19. I feel yours too Josh! For everyone else, Josh wrote his own feelings about this subject a couple years ago: http://blog.marshotelonline.com/2010/07/10/from-my-sketchbook-artists-lament/ It always helps to keep our sense of humor!

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  20. I think art is in your blood Linda....and even having a transfusion of science won't change that. Enjoy your creativity and keep feeding your soul. I so love all your stories from your past .
    Jane x

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  21. Thanks Jane! Let's all feed our souls :)

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  22. Great post, Linda. I know what you mean...I used to work as a designer, but now I substitute teach, and it rarely has anything to do with art. In fact, most of my co-workers don't even know I am into art in my "other life". Sometimes I think that works best...it keeps the art as an unadulterated joy.

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  23. Oh, goodness gracious! I can so relate to what you are saying-- every few months I wonder if I should give up and go to nursing school! This business is great if you love banging your head against a wall!! Ha, no really-- I get the art-love thing. My family will have to pry my paintbrush out of my cold, dead hand, but dang, it ain't easy to make a living! ;)

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  24. It is indeed hard to be an artist, but I disagree with you when you say that art is a genetic defect. On the contrary, more people should let out their creativity or at least not throw it away after they become adult. I understand that most people can't live by their arts, and for those who do it's always a struggle (except for a few big shots). And even if you have lost your child's focus, isn't it wonderful to be able to create something like the illustration following this post? For me it's such a beautiful piece of art, the colours are beautiful as are the forms and shapes. It opens up for a lot of interpretations, which is what I like about your art. Keep at it, even if you have to work as a PT. Your artistic work is excellent.

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  25. What a fabulous illustration...I feel the weight, Linda! So, I too was supposed to be an Engineer of some kind. Even visited my cousin at IBM...but ultimately went 180 degrees to graphic design, which I've been so fortunate to be in. Now with illustration, I see how challenging it is..such amazing illustrators out there, and few jobs..but I will keep on as the love it keeps growing. I know that innate fire is in you too and it shows. Hope the PT job works out well as you continue to create your masterpieces!

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  26. Thanks everybody! You're all good for my ego :) I think they may have to pry my paintbrushes out of my cold, dead hands too. Isn't it interesting how so many people try so hard to talk us out of art? I figure the ones who won't be talked out of it will find a way to do it no matter what. I hope everyone keeps drawing, painting, photographing! My happiness with it isn't just the doing, it's seeing what other people do too, and that includes Phil's science projects too.

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