Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Giving up The Dream?

I’m an artist…a painter.   At least I use to be.  I painted abstract paintings back in the day.


That HURTS to say in the past tense.  I do mean it HURTS both physically and emotionally.  Can it really be over?  The dream?  It can’t be!  Is this really how it happens?  The seemingly small choices I’ve made during my life to date have made major impacts on my art “career” (in quotes because I’m not sure it ever could have been considered a career).

How it happened:
  • Art school, then...
  • Diversionary Choice #1: Didn’t finish school to follow ex-husband to DC
  • Diversionary Choice #2: slowed creativity to concentrate on making more money to...well, live
  • Diversionary Choice #3: Divorced ex-husband and left with extremely burdenous debt, thus more concentration on work/money and less on painting
  • Glimmer of light (insert choir of angels here): noticed downturn in creativity and general malaise in my attitude..worked toward painting more and started showing in galleries in DC...things were looking good!
  • Diversionary Choice #4: FELL.  IN. LOVE.
  • Diversionary Choice #5 (and they really start coming fast now): move in with new love
  • Diversionary Choice #6: have babies with new love
  • Diversionary Choice #7: which actually looked like a good move towards painting more: QUIT WORKING, to stay home with new baby...that new baby required more time and attention than I painting occurred.
  • Diversionary Choice #8: Baby #2
  • Diversionary Choice #9: go back to work to gain good education for little cherubs
And little by little I gave up my “free time” to the ones I love and to say I wouldn’t have it any other way is an out right lie!  The other way I’d like to have it is to have my loved ones, my husband, my two insanely grand boys, and my parents about me all the time ~AND~ still have time to paint in the manner I used to approach painting.

My method of painting back pre-boyfriend, pre-kids, pre----any-kind-of-responsibility, beyond sustenance for myself was… work all day, paint all night with wine and music (and after a couple of glasses of wine it was dancing and painting) and sleep 3 or 4 hours, repeat.  Come the weekend it was play all day, play all night, paint all morning, sleep 3 or 4 hours, repeat.

What a life.  I look back on it in fondness and miss the inspiration gained from consorting with strangers, sitting on the sidelines watching life go by, people watching (which I think takes a certain skill - people don't look at one another anymore!), spur-of-the-moment jaunts to the National Gallery of Art, etc… etc… etc…

I can totally see how the infamous bad-boys of the art world, shirked all relationships to live the bohemian life of art, sex, drugs and fun!  What a life!   And here’s the thing… to be great at something, anything not just art…to be truly great...  you really do have to make those big choices.  There are so, so few out there who accomplish the big achievements without some sort of huge personal or emotional sacrifice.

That’s it.  That’s where I sit.  Could I have been a great artist, heck I don’t know.  In all reality, probably not.  To be a house-hold name in art/painting is even harder than becoming a household name in movies.  How many RECENT artists do you know off the top of your head?  If you know more than 5 then your disqualified because you’re one of my artist friends who is steeped in the current art world.  If you’re a common person, not following the art game, Joe-schmoe who has happened upon my blog, chances are the first artist you think of is Warhol or Pollock..then…your stuck listing off Renoir or Degas or Picasso.

So, the question remains.  Is the dream gone?  Have I given up the dream?  Where in my daily routine can I fit in painting?!  Here’s the daily agenda:

6:00a.m. – 7:30 a.m. wake with kids, get them up dressed, fed, cleaned from feeding, diaper changes, bags packed for school and ready to leave…most of the time I don’t get to eat breakfast…

8:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m. – get kids to school, catch bus to work

9:00 am. – arrive at work

6:30 – 8:30 p.m. somewhere in there I get to leave work – depends on the day

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 pm.  depending on when I leave work I get home, if home by 7pm I put the oldest to bed, the youngest is already in bed, eat dinner and go to bed by 9 or 10pm (I’m up late tonight at 10:15 p.m.).

And that’s my day.  No exercise.  No art. Barely time to say hello to my husband.  I am soooo sooooo ready for this routine to change!


Have I been spoiled up until now?  I used to luxuriate in idle debates of world-issues with my husband over a glass of wine and whatever exotic meal we decided to create that evening with some random favorite music of ours playing in the background.


Those days are so long gone, that it’s simply sad to even think about now.

But there is hope.  There is light at the end of the tunnel.  There is the progression of time where the kids get older, slightly more independent … able to dress themselves... able to go to bed without a major hour long battle…able to “put pee pee in the potty” by themselves, for Christ’s sake!  When those days get here perhaps I can gain a minute here and minute there and suddenly a full hour to …  in all reality probably not paint, but SLEEP!

This all probably gives new meaning to the phrase "a tortured artist"!


DianneM said...

Our receptionist is an artist that doesn't do art anymore, but she does make the most fantastic cards that she paints with watercolor pencils while she is at the front desk!

Someday Jen, you will have your time again and then you can do art for your grandbabies.

Christy said...

Oh you poor thing Jenn! I wish I could offer you some advice...but we've talked about this till we were blue in the mouth, and you have a routine that 'works' for you guys right now...maybe moving to the burbs sooner than later would be a help?! Argh! One day soon you'll have some more free time - it has to happen! In the meantime, call me anytime (in any of your spare time - ha!) you want to vent!