Friday, August 19, 2011

About the Artist's Unexceptional Life

I’ve been wondering what my topic would be this week. Many of my readers are artists. Many are not. I want to capture the interest of all (in spite of  what Honest Abe said about pleasing all of the people …). I had to think about what I know enough about to be able to speak of. And am I writing for my artist audience or my non-artist readers? Who am I anyway? Am I not both? 

This has been a typical week: a lot of painting which is going well. Some grocery shopping, a little cooking, no housecleaning (only gets done when there’s a dire need for it), some laundry, and much time on the phone with my kids. This morning I will write this blog, do some business stuff, (I’m uploading images of my pigment prints to Visual Art Source and will include a link to that new gallery page when I have it ready). In the evenings I usually watch an hour of something I get from Netflix and then settle into my cherished armchair with the book of the moment. I have thought a lot about what’s happening in Somalia and been horrified on a daily basis by much of what I see in our local newspaper. I will spend some of the weekend scanning and printing small paintings that I plan to use as collage material in current and future studio projects. And I will take some time off to read and probably spend some with the family. On the agenda for next week: painting, and a proposal for an exhibition I would like to have in the year 2014. Plus a repeat of most of the usual.

There are a number of things I’ve neglected to mention but I think I’ve got the bulk of it. That’s it, the fairly ordinary life of a self-employed person. I think it entitles me to write about art or anything that is ordinary. Oh, and I forgot. I do the (minimal) obligatory exercise three times a week with Jane Fonda. Into every life some rain must fall.

In a recent newsletter from painter Robert Genn, he uses these expressions when speaking of the generic artist: a higher calling, a higher path, the sensitive ones who struggle alone, a creative life and a life well lived, the most privileged of all. 

I have included a link to Genn because I have taken him quite out of context. But I have heard and read those terms applied to my ilk and find them unreal. So maybe there are those of us that live on a higher plane than most (Beethoven and Michelangelo?) but mostly we are working for a living and grateful for our ordinary lives.

All of this is my personal bias. Blogging can be wonderfully self-indulgent.

The image above is one of the little (17" x 11") pieces that I’ve scanned for use as collage material. The image below is the current state of the quartet I’m working on. Click on it for a better view. I’m using a variety of materials, mostly acrylic on 35” x 25” panels of heavy etching paper. Stay tuned for further developments.


  1. Yes, rain must fall into every life, but not perhaps Jane Fonda.

  2. I usually turn off the sound. It's the shortest workout and the easiest that I could find.

  3. A simple and ordinary life allows the artist full rein to create because nothing gets in the way.

  4. Your words, as always, resonate with me. I have these same thoughts on a routine basis. My life as a working artist is as ordinary as any other life, and I don't consider the work I do more important or "higher" than the work of anyone else. I feel blessed, but not necessarily special. Just an ordinary woman, finding as much joy in my children and grandchildren and friends as I do in the fat, juicy tubes of oil paint in my studio...

  5. Thank you, Linda. It's nice to know I'm not alone as I think aloud.

  6. Joan,
    This is an important post. How it lands for me is that creativity comes in infinite forms and ways and does not need "specialness" applied to painting or a particular type of expression.

    If one is living deeply and expressing deeply in any aspect of life, then the Genn type superlatives will apply (and won't be necessary), and it doesn't require ever having lifted a brush.

    This may be the flip side of what you were speaking about, but it's what resonates for me.

    I'm currently influenced by the first chapter of "The Seven Life Lessons of Chaos" - a light but poetic discussion of Chaos Theory.


  7. It's wonderful, as always, to see your work in progress, Joan. I'd like to wrap myself up in a cloak your colors.

  8. Hi Rebecca, No, not the flip side, same side with slight variation. Human life seems very precious to me in all its guises. And the effort we make to live it well seems a common thread for those of us who are fortunate enough to not have to struggle to survive. Or for those who do not value their lives at all.

  9. Hi Kelly, Well, you know, people do wear clothes made of paper. It would be fun to dress you in a cloak of many colors.