Column is a monthly feature that follows the lives
of creative people and explores the world of creativity.
Becoming A Rich Artist
de Sousa, Director, AbleStable
Artists are no different than anyone else: they
want to spend their days doing what they most enjoy
while making a living from it. Most don't succeed.
Here's the story of one man who forged his own path
Paul paints. Ever since he was given a small eight-well
watercolour set some thirty years ago he's never
lost his love of painting. Most people know Paul
as a carpenter, and like all good carpenters he
is careful, skilled, and disciplined. He doesn't
call himself an artist, he doesn't feel the need
to. His practice of art is private and his role
as an artist is rarely disclosed.
Paul is satisfied by the comforts his trade afford
him and he has no ambition or need for his art to
make him money. His day-job is to make most anything
with wood. From a kitchen cabinet to a house roof,
Paul's kept busy by the constant stream of requests
on his time. He's lucky in liking his work and the
people he meets through it. He says it keeps his
feet firmly on the ground.
evening and at weekends Paul paints: patterns, pictures,
portraits, and places. For him, painting is as vital
as the air he breathes. Without painting he feels
incomplete. His need to paint partly satisfies him,
the completion of his satisfaction is in the knowledge
his work is viewed by others.
On finishing a painting he stores it for a year
in a specially constructed, humidity-controlled
conditioning room. After a year he frames it with
the finest wood and greatest care then hangs it
on his north facing workspace wall for one month.
When exactly one calendar month passes he takes
the painting off the wall, wraps it in bubblewrap
held in place with thick brown packing tape, and
takes it to a place he has chosen to be its new
The choice of new home for his painting is made
during that final month when Paul contemplates the
completed work: its strengths, its weaknesses, and
its potential audience. The chosen place for his
painting may require travelling some distance from
his home and he doesn't flinch at journeying across
several States to reach his destination.
Paul's pickup truck pulls up. If it's one of his
larger paintings he'll lower it delicately onto
a trolley and wheel the trolley up to the entrance.
He leaves the painting with a reliable stranger
along with a short accompanying note, returns to
his pickup, and drives back home.
The stranger, usually a receptionist, carefully
unpeels the blank envelope and pulls out the note:
The painting enclosed is a gift. Showing it in
your space is my reward. Paul
The stranger looks up but the man has left.
Paul's paintings hang in public places: government
buildings, day centres, schools and the like. None
ask for paintings from Paul, none pay for his work,
and every painting to date has found its perfect
eyes of others
Most artists would love to escape their day job
for the singular pursuit of developing their art
full-time. To achieve this artists generally choose
to sell their art and attempt to establish a certain
status within the artistic community. Selling art
is an established industry. Galleries, government
grants, scholarships, and public institutions exist
that support artists who wish to take this route
towards achieving their aim.
The career artist has become an integral part of
Western culture. They are skilled at applying for
grants, marketing their personality, and generally
ego centred. This results in the production of a
certain kind of art produced by a narrow demographic
of the population.
The greatest shortfall of the artistic community
is how so often they view others outside it as producing
work of less aesthetic worth. The great irony is
that it is often the outsider who produces art that
resounds most within us.
One day a choice presents itself and the path to
good fortune lays out before us. We never know the
day, the hour, the moment, and we only come to know
the path is to our advantage after travelling along
it for some considerable time. There is no returning
to that moment to make the choice again. If we walk
a different path we never come to know the opportunity
ever arose. All we can do is our best, be true to
ourselves, and dream of a place where our work and
lives will one day meet as one...
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