When I was in kindergarten, I drew a totally kick-A picture of cops shooting a bank robber with what appeared to be laser beam guns (my dad watched a lot of Star Trek around me, ok?) (Jean Luc Picard > Captain Kirk any day.) and the creativity just kept on comin’. All my friends told me to be an artist. It wasn’t until I was like, um, 6, that my knack for bucking the system kicked in and I set out to be anything BUT what everyone said I should be. Possible career choices included 1. An architect 2. A little underwater bubble car driver that worked for big oil 3. An archaeologist 4. A police officer in New York City 5. A journalist 6. A preschool teacher 7. Someone in the Air Force–didn’t matter who. 8. A forest ranger 9. NOT a mom, ANYTHING but a mom. 10. And certainly nobody’s wife, because I do what I want.
And God, who invented bucking and systems, in His infinite wisdom, led me to where I am today, effectively fulfilling 100% of nothing whatsoever on my dream job list.
I’m a little bummed about the underwater bubble car, but He didn’t give me the math smarts to engineer a deep sea oil rig, or the dedication to become an architect, or the guts to pursue police-officer-ing, or the superhuman capabilities it takes to wrangle 25 4-year-olds for 7 hours. (*shudders*)
But He did let me be a good drawler. In sixth grade I owned art contests, and I earned mad cash drawing pencil-on-construction-paper portraits of my friends ($1 per portrait; approximately 3 hours worth of sketching and erasing.) In high school, I just stopped, because, teen pregnancy.
In college I had a drawing teacher who showed me the light–and that light was that everything I had been doing up until that point was wrong. Drawing got hard, yo–but I loved it even more. 80 years and a grazillion dollars later, I finally got my degree in graphic art and design, had another baby, and successfully did nothing whatsoever relating to my field for the rest of my life. Except draw and paint whenever I felt insane.
Over the years I’ve been encouraged to do several projects to earn money with my talent. Some of them have been beneficial, others…not so much.
Here are some things almost every artist would like you to know:
- I’m not gonna draw you a tattoo.
- No I will not spend $70 in supplies and eight hours of my time painting a wall-sized Frozen mural in your child’s room for $100.
- No I will not sell you this original painting that took me 3 months to complete for $20.
- No I will not show you how I did it, unless you want to sweat blood at two o’clock in the morning every morning for 90 days.
- No I will not paint you that thing you saw on Pinterest for $20 because it will take me 2 hours alone just to tear apart the crappy wood pallet I had to hunt down and pay $20 for. If it “looked super easy”, then you do it.
- If you think you could have done the baby name sign yourself for $20 then you should have done the baby name sign yourself.
- I can draw easily in a certain style; in other styles I can draw with much effort and concentration; so, if you want a pair of canvas shoes adorned with a realistic-looking painting of Iron Man, it’ll cost you more than my ink doodle of a smiling onion, and that’s not cheap either because I am seriously attached to that cute little onion.
- I’d rather set myself on fire than paint giraffe print on an entire piece of furniture, paid or not.
- $25 per person for a painting party where I include all supplies and over 3 hours of instruction IS MORE THAN REASONABLE.
- Unless you are tight with an artist–and I don’t mean tight like you waved to them at the PTO meeting two months ago–don’t ask them to paint something for nothing. It’s rude.
I don’t say any of this to be arrogant–but you’d be surprised at how many people–who don’t even know me that well–expect me to drool over the chance to make what amounts to half minimum wage by painting stupid crap for a corner of their dining room that’ll be in a garage sale by next spring.1 word: BALLS. Another word: ETSY.
Rant over. Caps lock: off.
God gave me a gift, but he didn’t give me a ton of time, so I want to use both where it counts. Here are things that I have felt most called to do and so fulfilled in doing them:
- Painting rainbows and Spidermans on faces.
- Art camps for underprivileged children who have never ever painted on a canvas before. The way their eyes lit up, you guys…ohz.
- Painting with random kiddos that originally came over to my house to play with my kids, but inevitably end up at my table full of art supplies, and well, I can’t say no because they are just so sweet.
- Art sessions for kids which includes a gallery night that usually eats up all my profits and then some, but makes both the children and their parents feel so special: LOVE it.
It’s my path you guys. Some artists sell still-lifes of fruit for thousands of dollars. Others will so very gladly paint Elsa’s giant mug on your kid’s wall. Even more will giraffe-print the shit out of your thrift-store dresser.
I don’t want to turn away anyone who wants do art with me. I’m no expert but I love what I do. Friends won’t walk away painting like Van Gogh but I hope that they will feel relaxed and cared about, and proud, and also covered in paint and gesso and charcoal and modge podge.