Saturday, June 30, 2018

Savvy Painter Podcast and the Artist Myth

I just did an interview with the Savvy Painter Podcast.  It was such an honor to be asked as I have been a listener for a while.  Also a drop of terrifying, I generally think I am better at clarity when writing than speaking, but I guess most people feel that way.  Anyhow, the show is run by painter Antrese Wood and she does a nice job of asking specifics but also keeping conversations broad enough for people working in different ways or different fields to take something away.  At least I find that when listening to other episodes, I agree with a lot of the philosophies of other painters, even if our work is very different.  So that has been interesting.

One of the things she and I touch on which has been a big thought for me recently is the artist myth.  We discuss how many people assume you are either a starving artist locked away in the studio all night driven only by mad passion or you are a sunday painter, happily dotting trees onto a canvas in the park.  And of course every profession has stereotypes and generalizations.  But this is one I even hear other painters believing.  Many of my professors said you can't have a career and a family.  I hear peers ask each other anxiously, myself included, how many hours you spend in the studio per day.

In the beginning of the interview Antrese asked about my early exposure to art.  I hadn't thought about it until that second but I mentioned how my mom showed me Georgia O'Keefe and Mary Cassatt.  The funny part is I actually thought I was better than Georgia O'Keefe when I was about 10 years old (didn't really grasp the range of her work then but still find my response uneven).  That was the extent of women artists I was exposed to and had the choice to think about.  But having even two female painters to look at gave me a subconscious sense that being a painter was possible.  Never before did I think of that until this interview, as I didn't really love their work, just their position as women.  It is so important to internalize a model, not a role model but someone modeling the role as female painter.  It is crucial to support the work of women and minorities in the arts, first for its quality now but maybe also because of the quality it might nourish in the future.

I think it also makes me want to push back against that artist myth:  To be great, an artist should forego balance and relationships in pursuit of their greatness and passion.  It makes for a great story, when you read about Philip Guston and his insane drive and black moods it makes the work feel more suffered for, more authentic.  However, its actually much harder to feel that drive, that singular desire to work and continue to attempt to be a good person, a member of society, a balanced human being.  I can't say I'm there but I would like to redefine for myself what a painter's life can look like, what I should be striving for.

Many thanks to Savvy Painter for bringing these thoughts to the forefront in my mind and for bringing other painters' voices and opinions into the public sphere.  Thank you for supporting me here and there.  I love the emails I get, it is another aspect of my painting world that is enriching and builds a sense of community around a very solitary and intense path.


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