Good day! My name is Michaela Adeline Cozad. I am an artist, primarily a painter. I just recently graduated with my BFA from the University of Central Oklahoma, and now am taking on the oh so dreaded task of having to "do something" with my degree and overall life.
Though my paintings aren't earning any income right now, I have been blessed with time to create. My days consist of painting in my little bedroom studio, learning new techniques, (Right now I'm learning to embroider. I find textile art fascinating.) and reading about the antics of Modern (20th century) Art.
My husband, who is still in school, and I are living frugally but comfortably. God has blessed us with opportunities of hard, manual, good ol' fashioned labor. Life right now is not conventional, but it is good. However, this is not the point of this post.
As I was painting today, I got to thinking about one of the biggest comments people made when I mentioned I was in art school: "Wouldn't you rather save your art as a hobby and get a different career for a job? Won't you fall out of love with painting once you have to start making a living with it." I suppose these inquiries popped up in my memory today, since I'm not really making a living off my art, yet, and life is full of uncertainty. Nonetheless, I want to comment on this well-meaning, but cynical advice.
No. I will never fall out of love with painting. Plain and simple. When I got (and continually get) asked this question, it makes me wonder... 1. Is our society so mechanical and capitalistic that a career is just something one does to earn, and therefore is automatically supposed to despise? Or 2. Is it just because of the abstract concept of having an "art career", since an art degree doesn't equal a specific "job" per say? For the sake of society, I hope it's the latter. It's a sad world to live in when the individual choice one makes over what to do with his or her life equals in trudging despair and misery.
Now don't get me wrong, I completely understand where this question comes from. I don't even get frustrated when I'm asked, because I know it is out of genuine interest and concern for me. However, I do not believe people understand the insatiable passion I have for painting. The elation I feel as I problem solve, analyze, and watch a piece come alive is invigorating! It is much more than "painting a pretty picture." Which brings me to another point. Painting (art making in general) is a passion, but it is also work.
I could easily spend a full 8+ hour work day in the studio, if my husband and best friend would let me. (I am forced to take hourly breaks due to toxicity and fumes. Unfortunately, a cracked window in a small bedroom is not conducive to consistent painting for hours at a time.)
Talk to any artist, and he or she will tell you that the hours of labor put into a piece easily is more than a full time job. The work is also both mental and physical (and for me, sometimes frenzies of emotional as well). Artists must have the technical skills in order to create a piece, but also analyze and think critically regarding work and concept. "How does the piece I am creating visually represent what I'm trying to convey?" "Does my choice of materials relate to the concept, or are they contradicting each other?" "How will this piece effect the space in which it's displayed? How will it potentially effect the viewer?" "OH! My piece fell off the wall a few days before exhibition and broke! How do I repair it???" (True story. Horrific Story.)
These questions aren't typically relevant for the general populace to consider, However, the considerations artists make directly affects how you, the viewer, experiences the art. And all this work is just the creating process. It doesn't include the promotion, installation, sales, etc. With all that being said, yes, art making is a job.
I am going to work every time I go to the studio. Yes, I do get frustrated at times with my paintings. Some days in the studio are exponentially harder than others, and yes, sometimes I do leave tired and exasperated. However! That is life. With whatever you choose to do, some days and some experiences are going to be more tolling than others. I choose to work through those hard studio days (with the solace of prayer and sometimes ice cream), and get back to work in the studio the next day. The minor set back of a hard day's work does not negate the joy I experience overall. So no, I will not fall out of love with my job. And I personally believe, that anyone who is doing something they are passionate about, will not fall out love either.