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Old 12-16-2005, 10:19 AM   #1
Patricia Joyce Patricia Joyce is offline
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Real vs. Creative Life




How do you do it? My frustration level seems to be at an all time high, so I need a little help from my friends. I apologize for not contributing more than I usually do, however I am really struggling here lately.

Here are the questions I pose to you:
1. How do you find any time for art when you HAVE to work 40 hours a week to pay your bills at a job which sucks the very life out of you, but which pays your rent and puts food on your table and buys your art supplies?

2. How do you deal with the resentment ?

3. What art do you do Mon - Friday when you leave your house at 8am and return home, eat, walk the dog and find it is 7pm? And it is dark outside, and cold in your apartment and you are ready for bed, heavy lidded eyes by 9pm? (I wish I could be a Jimmie Arroyo and go to my studio and work till 2am - but I get up at 6am!! and I suffer from CFSID)

I just can't get on top of my game here because I am in such frustration at having so little time to do what I love to do. I will be vested with a tiny, tiny pension (unable to touch for 15 more years) at work in March, after which I am considering living in poverty, working part time, finding a hole to call home which will be dirt cheap, just so I can paint.

I really want to walk away from the 9 - 5 life and paint but I have no savings, no spouse to support me, no 17th century patron to keep me painting and fed! I am curious how other artists here may have survived this burning desire to paint while needing to eat every day and pay the bills!

Maybe others would like to share their courageous story of how they fought back the "work till you drop world" and found time for beauty and inspiration and art!

"He can only obey the apparetly alien impulse within him and follow where it leads sensing that his work is greater than himself and wields a power which is not his and which he cannot command" -Carl Jung
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Old 12-16-2005, 10:39 AM   #2
Michele Rushworth Michele Rushworth is offline
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Boy, do I hear you. I'm not in the same situation but I can sure understand how you feel. I suppose most artists have made financial sacrifices on some level to do what they do, at least in the beginning. Our family would have a lot more money if I went back to the type of jobs I did many years ago. I just couldn't stand to let any more years go by without painting as much as I do now, though.

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in March, after which I am considering living in poverty, working part time, finding a hole to call home which will be dirt cheap, just so I can paint.
Sounds like some of the Impressionists, who would sometimes go without food in order to buy art supplies.
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Old 12-16-2005, 10:44 AM   #3
Jeff Fuchs Jeff Fuchs is offline
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Sorry, I don't have a story of courage, but I can commiserate.

I must admit that I tend to neglect my art for long periods, but when I am doing it, as I have been these last few months, I do nothing else all evening. I have longer evenings than you, apparently, as I get off work at 4:30 and I'm home by 4:40 (the advantages of small town life). I already gave up television a couple of years ago, and I don't miss it a bit. I listen to public radio and paint. That's my whole evening. You'd think I'd have learned a little by now.

I work for Child Protection, so you might imagine how I'd like to quit. But I see very talented artists who have difficulty making any sales, so I hold no illusions that I could retire early to be an artist. Not with my student-level skills. Still, we're DINKs (double income, no kids), so we've already paid off the mortgage, and are on track for early retirement, with or without art. Unfortunately, even early retirement is years away. The earliest possible retirement for me is only two years away, but the benefits are punitively small, so that won't be feasible.

Still, I love going upstairs every evening, and messing about. Janice is convinced that I could make a living as an artist someday, so she's supportive. I've decided to make the switch from public radio to audiobooks, so I'll be up to speed on Dickens before long. Maybe by the time I get through the classics, I'll have marketable skills
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Old 12-16-2005, 11:16 AM   #4
Patricia Joyce Patricia Joyce is offline
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Great quote from Eric Maisel, speaks to where I find myself now, in my life:

"A certain image helps me remember why people find it so difficult to create. I see two plateaus separated by a deep gorge hardly three feet wide at its narrowest point. The near plateau, where a would-be creator lives, is barren, while the far plateau is jungle-covered, wild, and mysterious. Everyday the would-be creator walks right up to the edge of his plateau, stares into the gorge to its floor two hundred feet below, and says to himself, "If I try to get across I'll fall and kill myself." Then he glances across at the tangled vines that obscure the jungle interior, making it impossible to know what riches or dangers are hidden there, and murmurs to himself, "Even if I did manage to get across, something bad would happen."
He is aware that his side of the gorge is barren. But he's afraid of that short leap and afraid of the jungle interior. His instinct for survival, his fear of the unknown, or some elemental human inertia causes him to stay put, even though he is perfectly aware that his current life is unrewarding. To think that clay, pigments, words, or ideas could put one in the same such fear! Yet would-be creators of all kinds pace on their plateaus, held in check by fear of that small leap and that unknown territory
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Old 12-16-2005, 12:44 PM   #5
Lacey Lewis Lacey Lewis is offline
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Keep up the good spirits! I know it's hard sometimes, but you have such a drive that I'm sure there can be no stopping you.

I can relate quite a bit. Although I do have a husband who is very supportive of me, he makes little more than minimum wage. He's in college right now and his current job allows him a lot of time to read. It's one of the sacrafices that we make right now for our goals.

When I decided to 'come home,' I sold my car to get rid of the expense of it and started doing some home sales parties as a way to help with the transition. I've since been able to make income from some of my creative skills, doing graphics and making web pages, and although this can hardly be considered an income it does help here and there. Also, I flipped through some books on living cheaply... the book "Miserly Moms" comes to mind. Not only do these books show you ways to save money, but also point out the expense of working itself.

I also only paint in the evening. Although I'm home during the day, I homeschool my son and I do not have a seperate room or area for a studio that I can escape to here and there during the day. So, when he goes to bed at 7:30 or 8 is when I start, and I usually go until about 11 or 12. I just try to keep reminding myself that it is do-able. I am getting work done, and although it is not at lightning speed I am continually moving forward. Try to think of it that way for yourself... you are moving forward and your work is great!

Resentment... no advice there! I do catch myself thinking "What?!? You don't want to do math? I could be painting!!" but at these times I just try to let my mind go completely blank. I don't want to have a panic attack! If worst comes to worse, I try to think of the numbers 1-4, very slowly, over and over again.

Have you thought about working part time instead of full time? I don't know what kind of job you have, but if it is a low paying job maybe you could look for a different kind of job that lets you be more creative. I know I always see jobs for ad layout at the local newspaper. Also, you can always see about making money teaching art. I know that you mentioned trying classes at your home, but there are also opportunities at the art stores and at local art centers. Maybe if you have to work but the job relates more to your passion, you will feel better at the end of the day.

Good luck and I hope that some solutions find you! I am one who thinks it's OK to sacrafice for art, hey there are always soup kitchens if you need them, LOL! Just keep yourself healthy.
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:01 PM   #6
Michele Rushworth Michele Rushworth is offline
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It's an advantage that you have just yourself to support. You might try leaving the full time workaday world and give yourself a couple of years and see how it goes. The economy is stronger than it was and you could easily get back into the workforce if you decided to later. After reading about your feelings, I think you will truly and deeply regret it if you don't give it a try.
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Old 12-16-2005, 01:17 PM   #7
Steven Sweeney Steven Sweeney is offline
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Pat,

Resentment has a lot to do with having your head someplace other than where your body is. If I think about painting while I'm at work (in a noncreative occupation), and then think about work demands while I'm trying to move ahead on my artwork, I'm miserable all the time.

The Zen guys remind us, "When walking, walk. When eating, eat." Meaning, try to not always be thinking ahead to what you're going to have or wish you could do later, or thinking back to what you wish you'd done before. Similarly, "When working, work. When painting, paint."

(Besides, a lot of problems are being "worked on" in your unconscious, even when you're not focusing on them, so don't worry that you're not painting during the day, for in a way, you are. I used to be asked when I found the time to write, and I honestly replied, "I'm never not writing.")

That will help with the resentment. I can't tell you how to add any hours to the day, though I wish I could. I'm at my desk around 6 a.m., rarely leave before 6 p.m., have a one-hour commute and the dog to walk and snow to shovel. I'm actually using a vacation day today to try to catch up on some framing and canvas repairs (fire damage), taking a break while glue and varnish dries.

I can count on two fingers the artists of my acquaintance who don't rely on income from a day job, theirs or their spouse's, to make a go of it, and they're both better artists than I'll ever be.

One cool thing about the day job is that, here I am homebound on a snowy beginning to a three-day weekend, the dog curled up at my feet -- and my employer is paying for it! That never happened when I was trying to make ends meet in a studio.
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:12 PM   #8
Michele Rushworth Michele Rushworth is offline
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Quote:
The Zen guys remind us, "When walking, walk. When eating, eat." Meaning, try to not always be thinking ahead to what you're going to have or wish you could do later, or thinking back to what you wish you'd done before. Similarly, "When working, work. When painting, paint."
Good thing to keep in mind. No matter what I'm doing, I always think I "should" be doing something else.

Quote:
One cool thing about the day job is that, here I am homebound on a snowy beginning to a three-day weekend, the dog curled up at my feet -- and my employer is paying for it! That never happened when I was trying to make ends meet in a studio.
Another good thing to keep in mind (Steven, you're so full of wisdom today!) Even though I do have a spouse's income to rely on to a certain extent, I do work pretty much ALL the time, weekends included, as a self employed artist. I've taken perhaps three of what I would call "vacation days" this year where I felt free of the obligation to work on portrait commissions or marketing, in order to bring in income. For example, the rest of my family went on a 10 day vacation to the east coast last summer and I stayed home and worked. No paid vacations or holidays here!
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Old 12-16-2005, 02:25 PM   #9
Patricia Joyce Patricia Joyce is offline
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wink

Lacey, Michele and Steven,
Thank you all for your replies. It does help me to read them and to receive the encouragement.
The Zen reminder is so good. Part of my problem is that I work 40 hours but have actually only 25 hours to do so I have way too much time to think. It feels like I am wasting precious time. I am planning on asking my bosses (they are nuns, they shoudl be supportive!) if I can go to 25 hrs a week after March, but I am afraid I may lose my health benefits unless they consider me grandfathered in. I am also thinking about moving south where the cost of living is cheaper and the weather warmer and sunnier!! But I have to find a way to pay for that move, so I am saving all my commission money (it piddles in!)

I work as an accountant and make below standard rate because I work for a nonprofit organization (convent). So I am also considering working for a temp agency perhaps at a highter hourly rate, thus enabling me to make enough to live on, part time, but the insurance becomes an issue once again.

Well, enough whining. Your support is encouraging and reading that many artists work and paint makes me feel I am in good company. Lacey you are a hard worker and young, you are very smart to be working at your art continuously. Don't stop no matter how busy you get being a mom.

Steven, you make me feel grateful for the hours and commute time I do have - yikes you have a very long day.
Boy doesn't walking the dog help though. I LOVE my walks with Erin, my sweet puppy!!!

Michele - take a vacation!!! Time in this "Cafe" is always good for me, virtual pub is almost as good as the real thing!!

Cheers . . .
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Old 12-18-2005, 12:49 AM   #10
Janel Maples Janel Maples is offline
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Pat,

If I understand your work situation correctly, you have approximately 15 extra hours of each work period that is not actually needed to do your job, but you need to be available, on site, for the full 40 hours per week, is this right?

Convents need money, don't they? Why don't you see if you can make a win win situation out of this?

Make a deal. If the nuns keep you in art supplies, you creat paintings during the slack time for them to sell at their Church functions. Perhaps in the bulletins at mass they can advertize portraits for members to help raise money for the Church. Or donate portraits at the school auction. This gets your name out in the community, and builds your portfolio so it is not a waste of your time. Your time is being wasted now, so doing anything artistic is better than nothing.

I guess what I am saying is see if you can find a way to get those three hours a day that are wasted (because you need to be on site) put to a better use for you AND the nuns. They would have a hard time saying no if keeping yourself busy, doing something that makes you happy, also helps raise money for the convent.

My heart goes out to you but I am confident that you will be able to think this through and come up with something that will be good for you.

I'll be thinking of you.
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