When I was in high school, I took an art class. We had to do a painting as one of our projects. I hated it! The paint took too damn long to dry and I got impatient. Drawing was much easier. Someone once asked me if I was going to make art a career. I told them that I never wanted art to become work. So it is a bit ironic that now I “make a living” through my art.
I love to paint – for the most part. It can be rather relaxing. It is a wonderful gift that God gave me – the ability to create something out of nothing. There is one part of a painting business though, that absolutely drives me crazy – Special Orders.
People want me to paint what they want me to paint. Of course, they will pay me for my work which is not the problem. The problem I have with it though is that it is what they want, not what I want. This is when art becomes work. What I envision and what the customer envisions may be two different things. I am unable to be more creative. I am locked in a box. And if someone wants me to paint something JUST like another painting I did, it is worse. I don’t remember how I painted the original, I just painted it.
I was painting a few Special Orders recently when I realized how stressed it made me. I HATED painting! It was STUPID! I got so frustrated that I had a hard time picking up my brush to get started each day – and some days, I didn’t paint at all because I knew it would not be enjoyable. It was then that I decided that I would no longer do Special Orders. Painting had become work – and I didn’t want that.
I decided that I would paint what I wanted to paint and how I wanted to paint. I didn’t have to only paint rocks. And I didn’t only have to paint realistic-looking animals or flowers. I could paint whatever I wanted – and hopefully still earn money. I love to do a particular style of painting that I made up –it is kind of an abstract that at times ends up being just designs. Other times I am able to use the style to create discernable figures. It is my most enjoyable type of painting, but I have not done much of it because it doesn’t sell as well as more realistic pieces. At this point though, I don’t care. I just want to enjoy myself again. My art will be available to purchase of course, but it may not be exactly what people want. Or it may be what people want, but didn’t know they wanted because they had not seen anything like it before.
I feel a sense of relief and joy as I experience the freedom to create what I want to create, not to be stuck in a rut of predictability. God has given me a true gift. I do not want to squander it, but embrace it fully and allow myself to get lost in it – allowing myself to feel God’s hand on me while I work. I don’t know that I will ever get rich doing it this way. But one thing is more important than monetary rewards – being at peace.