How many times have you heard someone say this? “I would paint but I just can’t afford it.” I am guessing that you have heard it quite a bit. I have been a witness to this a lot of times, a lot more than one would think. I actually saw someone post in an artist’s group at one point that they were from a poor country and art supplies were expensive there. They asked others to chip in and send them money to buy art supplies….because “if they could only make art”. The other artists did not take too well to this and explained that they should never try that in an artist group because we all struggle and art supplies ARE expensive. They told him to just use what he could get ahold of and deal with it. Artists are really not a sympathetic bunch.
Honestly, they weren’t wrong in saying this to this person in particular. I am all for helping someone, but you can’t really go around handing people everything. I am especially careful about this as I know how it is to start with very little….or nothing. Sure, there are people who really have nothing and need hand here and there…but you have to recognize the chances of really making an impact in their lives by providing things that they probably don’t really need the most at that time. I know that emotional outlets are important, but this is very much in line with my Starving Artists blog post, YOUR BASIC NEEDS MUST BE MET FIRST! If you haven’t read that, it couldn’t hurt to take a look at it too. However, that is an entirely different issue than what is really at the heart of this post. Sometimes people COULD have more than enough money to fund their creations if only they PRIORITIZED.
That’s right! Prioritize. How many times have you heard someone say they wished they could have this or that….but CAN’T because they have too many bills or any other excuse? Probably a LOT. The best part of that is when they tell you why they can’t but they go out and have extravagant meals, smoke cigarettes, drink heavily, or any number of vices. Maybe they have a super expensive phone that is literally only used for making calls. What they aren’t recognizing is that they have already prioritized something else over creating art.
I realize that I probably sound like a judgmental arse of an artist….an arsist if you will….but I can totally say this and be okay with my statement because there was a time in my life where I made a little bit of money and instead of saving it for art supplies that I really wanted, I USED IT FOR STUPID STUFF! I really did. I smoked cigarettes for years until I realized that it was actually keeping me from my artwork. I had cheap paints, bulk brushes, and limited colors and canvases. Mind you I didn’t even have a large collection of that stuff, but I realized that I could have more. It was the oddest epiphany that a person could ever have…”I”, meaning me, “could have”, like literally have, and own, and use, and hold, “MORE!” I wasn’t a child anymore, I was actually allowed to provide the art supplies that I wanted…to MYSELF! I also realized that I could justify any amount of art supplies that I wanted because all this time I had been busy justifying my smoking habit…why not use my powers for good instead of evil?!
After this epiphany I quit smoking. Like I literally put down the cigarettes and never touched another nub. I had opened a new door for myself where I was really looking at something that I was passionate about. Something that I thought had been previously unattainable for me. It wasn’t unattainable…it was simply something that I had to want more than frivolous purchases and bad habits. I was putting money into my personal wellbeing and expression rather than wasting what I called “a few dollars that wouldn’t add up to anything major” on substances that would eventually kill me. I realized the error of my ways. I really wasn’t all that sold on smoking, though I had actively smoked for upwards of a decade, I was BORED.
Boredom, which can be combatted with, hmmmm, what could help that? Oh, I know! ART! I think that is really the secret to making anything a priority, it HAS to matter to you. If I had been content to simply make a painting or two when I thought I had time and a few bucks to put into paints I would have never have had the opportunity to paint some of my work that I am most proud of. I think there would have still been a part of me that was afraid to accept my own personal artistic style. Acceptance is certainly needed when you are engaging in creative endeavors…not necessarily from others, but from yourself. Lots of times people will place roadblocks between them and something they want simply because they are afraid of some part of succeeding.
Stop saying that you can’t afford to make art. Stop putting those roadblocks in the way of yourself and your goal of harnessing your own creative spirit. You do have enough to make art, you may not have EVERYTHING or the MOST EXPENSIVE things…but you have enough. If you want more then you simply have to prioritize your arting over the extras. That means cooking at home, sacrificing that daily Starbucks drink, and passing up weekends in the club. You aren’t trading this stuff to be boring, you are trading it for a new kind of peace inside your soul. The difference is that you can actually gain something by putting yourself into one of these. Which one will be your vice?
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