They say that life is a journey not a destination More people need to hear that.
I once considered myself to have been an artist since I was a kid. I’ve spent years trying my hand at everything in art. Drawing, cartoons, origami, Chinese watercolor, printmaking, digital graphic design... the list goes on.
The problem I’ve had, EVERY SINGLE TIME, is patience.
Until now. Oil painting has given me a real challenge, one that I enjoy every time I paint. Origami didn’t do that. I followed the step-by-step guides to making a bird, made a bird and moved on. It was the same for all the others.
More recently, while photography was my art form of choice, I fell into the trap of seeking “insta-fame.”
My frustration was that it seemed like any Tom, Dick or Harry could become an overnight photography sensation thanks to Instagram, a chance moment and the right hashtag. There was me, learning every day about the art of photography and here’s this hipster nobody with the latest smartphone and a cheap filter app on the cover of Time magazine or coming out with a photo book. Needless to say, I got frustrated and took less and less photos. I was comparing myself to others, daily. Measuring my followers against theirs and getting despondent every time.
However, since taking up oil painting, I have a new appreciation for the holes that tripped me up before. Before, I was hoping that my photography would lead to “insta-fame” but what my older self has realized is that “insta-fame” is kinda like the “one hit wonder” in the music world.
Oil painting, and researching the masters of modern art such as Van Gogh, Matisse, Derain and Vlaminck, has given me a renewed understanding of the life of an artist. The point is to build up a body of work over a lifetime - enjoying every painting and every brushstroke - understanding that it’s a journey, not a destination. “One hit wonders” don’t have “greatest hits” albums or get entered into the music hall of fame. Their songs are found on the compilation CDs at the dollar store and are incredibly annoying.
Since this turnaround in my approach to creating art, I feel more and more accomplished every day. It’s an enjoyable experience, not a frustrating one. This isn’t to say I don’t have goals, I do, but my goals are not based on the number of likes and follows. They’re built on milestones that show true progress; being accepted at an art fair, making a sale, showing at a gallery and so on.
One inspiring video that I came across is below. The Bamboo tree story by Les Brown. Bottom line, it takes five years to grow something big and strong. Five years of nurturing, watering and tending.
Keep watering that bamboo tree.