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February 2009

February 2009 -- Humor

Gallery

Columns

  • Wombat Droppings:
    Art Avoidance
  • Behind the Art:
    Hatchling In Ink
  • EMG News:
    News for February
  • Part Time Painter:
    Stop Giving Yourself A Guilt Trip!
  • Artist Spotlight:
    Sir John Tenniel (1820 - 1914)

    Features

    Fiction

  • Fiction: Elemental

    Comics

  • Tomb of the King: Pandoryn, Pt 3


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  • Stop Giving Yourself A Guilt Trip!
    Part Time Painter
    by Nicole Cadet

    Thou shalt paint whenever one is not:

    a) At the day job
    b) Making the house liveable by cleaning, cooking, ironing or fumigating
    c) Laid off sick with 2 broken arms or completely incapacitated

    The consequences of ignoring these commandments shall be eternal guilt...

    Um... When did I agree to this?

    Most artists have gotten themselves in the situation where they feel they *should* be painting if they have free time. (I'm not talking about blowing off your responsibilities, I'm talking about feeling under pressure to create stuff just because you are an artist and you have spare time.) You try and be a superhero, putting unrealistic and often unhealthy expectations on yourself. And if you don't meet these expectations you get miserable. Or if you're like me, you start to feel a big, fat case of the guilts. After the guilts start, martyrdom sets in and you paint because you *should*, not because it's fun or rewarding, but because you've made these silly rules that you can't have any semblance of a life.

    I'm guilty of it. In fact, I worked myself into the ground trying to have two careers, and somewhere along the way forgot to have fun. I got so caught up in having to paint because I was an artist and it's what I should be doing, that all painting felt like 'work.' Commission work, personal work, portfolio work -- it felt like I was churning through it, but the heart wasn't in it in the way it should be. Oh don't get me wrong, I gave 150% on each piece; it was more the way I felt inside as I painted. It got into a nasty cycle of working, coming home, doing necessary chores, painting because I had free time (not because I had a drive to paint), and all the while thinking I’d rather be doing something else. And heaven forbid I did something else; I'd be thinking about the fact I should be painting when I wasn't. While I had guilted myself into painting and was producing stuff, I wasn't enjoying the process.

    It's kind of like being allowed dessert. You really want a chocolate sundae covered in gooey hot chocolate fudge sauce. And then being sensible or being bullied into getting the fruit salad. While the fruit salad is healthier and tastes great, what you really wanted was the ice-cream. The whole time you're having your pineapple you're thinking about the ice-cream. In the end, you got dessert, you're down a couple of dollars, you've eaten something you really didn't feel like, and you haven't really got rid of the craving for the sundae.

    So what can you do when you start feeling guilty about NOT painting?

  • Slap yourself in the back of the head and stop thinking that way! Nobody likes a martyr and no one but yourself is putting expectations on you. If a company wants you to do 50 paintings in a week, they're only doing it because you allowed yourself to be put into that situation. Be realistic about what you can do and recognise your limitations. Also recognise that you are entitled to a life!


  • Relax! The painting will still be there tomorrow, a week from now, even six months later. It's like riding a bike. The skills may get rusty, but they don't disappear.

  • You don't have to spend all your free time on one thing. You are allowed to have more than one artistic pursuit or hobby (actually, this should be expanded to be 'you are allowed to have a life!'). I have several (hobbies, not lives :) ) -- I play music, I do medieval recreation, I dance, I play computer games… It may help to balance you out or inspire you in different ways. It also helps to reenergise you when you are having an artist block.

  • Don't think about what you think you should be doing when you are doing something else enjoyable. Again it's like the chocolate sundae. Your free time is just that -- free! Free to do what you want, not free to only do painting and nothing else or you shall be struck down by some omnipotent being.


  • A little bit of guilt helps you get through the things you have to. You don't need it in your free time. So go forth, paint because you want to, not because you feel guilty about NOT painting.

    Nicole Cadet
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