I chatted with a
watercolor painting workshop student the other day who sighed, "I'm not a real artist. I probably
never will be." "Why?" I asked.
"First, because I'm still taking
painting workshops and learning. Second, because I don't make a living off of my art."
Let's talk about the first statement
first. No artist ever "arrives." There is
never a point, in a true artist's life, when he or she sits back and says, "Well, I've learned all there is about
art. I'll just keep painting the way I am now, because there's no place to go
from here." Even typing it sounds supercilious, conceited,
All artists are constantly,
consistently learning, and if a workshop from another artist propels them to
the next stage of their development, then that workshop is a good thing,
something to point at with pride and not embarrassment.
Artists are always looking at other
artists' work, and while generally, a more advanced artist can figure out a still life painting
technique or watercolor method with which to experiment by analyzing a colleague's work,
he or she is able to do this because of hours and hours of experience in the
And that is a key component of being a
real artist: working in that studio, playing with paint, analyzing color,
wrestling with composition, getting frustrated and wanting to roast hot dogs
over a bonfire of canvases, but always, always, learning and spending a
decent amount of time doing so.
Next week: Lots of money and being a "real artist" do not necessarily go together.