For Art's Sake Project: A 52 Week Journey to Rekindle the Love of Art
by Meghan Aileen
When I was a child I loved to paint. I used to sit in the basement with oil paint, canvas, and the smell of turpentine for hours and hours, happy as could be. I painted landscapes. Bob Ross taught me techniques on the TV. I would get so frustrated that I could not finish a masterpiece in 30 minutes like he did, but I kept trying, not because I had to, but because I had passion - there was a rawness to what I was doing. I was not tainted by the difficulties of combining art with making a living. I did it because I loved it and only because I loved it.
I eventually went to college and learned the business of commercial art. I could make money making art. What could be better than this? Don't get me wrong I am very grateful that I have made a living only from the world of art, in some way, for 15 years. I do not take this for granted; however, it is not without difficulties. It changes the way you view art and after awhile it is very hard to have it continue to be your passion when it is also the thing that pays your bills. We must take jobs we are not inspired by or even dislike. We must take input from others, and many times, do what they want over what we want. We are forced to be creative even when it is not how we feel, and to keep going even when we are just burnt out.
I woke up one day and realized that I did not remember why I was doing this. I would listen to people talk about art inspiring them and and I felt disconnected, like I could not relate. This scared me. It was such a huge part of me, how could I lose that? I know how. I lost it when I was worrying about how many Facebook fans we had, and how many sales we got this week… I lost it worrying about what products/designs people would buy…. what style would be popular. I lost it paying attention to what my competition was doing.
I say all of this as a photographer and a designer, but most of all an artist at heart. I started as a painter and an illustrator. I mostly taught myself photography and graphic design and then eventually I got lost focusing on the business aspect, the marketing and promotion, taxes and calendars, and employee payroll. These things are important for sure. This project is not designed to get us all to go live in a cabin in the woods and not run a business. (Although right now that is tempting!) It is designed to remind us why we do what we do. To help us discover/remember who we are as artists, and maybe even what style represents who you are now. As we know life is movement, art is as well.
Join me if you feel you need this. I will create something each week: Art for Art's Sake. It may not be great, it might not even be a photograph, but I will create something and talk with you about the challenges I face on this journey and the challenges I have faced over the last 15 years. And hopefully, at the end of it, I will remember the passion I felt as a child painting in the basement. I will revive the gifts that God gave me, I will make my business better, and hopefully help someone else on the same journey.
To begin my For Art's Sake Project: A 52 Week Journey to Rekindle a Love of Art I share with you 3 paintings I did my senior year in college. They were illustrations done with oil on wood for fictional book covers. It was a made up project, so to speak, for school it is the last time I remember having complete freedom in my art. Sometimes freedom means just the right kind of boundaries, not no boundaries at all. We can get lost as artists with NO boundaries as well...
Hope to see you next week,