Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Point Of No Return?

Sometimes, when I'm tired and depressed, I wonder if I'd be happier working in a nine-to-five McJob, with a meagre pay cheque and a dull but predictable routine.
I had just such a job, five years ago, before I regained my confidence – and my career – as an artist. I loathed it. But at least I had time to hang out with friends at weekends, go to movies or the local pub, and along with most suburban Australians, enjoy four weeks of paid Summer holidays a year. Who knows? If it had gone on much longer, maybe I might have married, settled down and had a child.
I made a choice in my late teens to pursue my ambition – to paint, every day, and to be a working artist – instead of partying hard or taking off to Bali. I moved wherever I thought I needed to be, even if I couldn't really afford to, in order to better educate myself and develop opportunities for myself to exhibit and be around other artists. This often meant leaving behind family, friends or lovers. I didn't want to live with anyone and I didn't long for a home, just a studio with a bed in it.
My life was – and still is – narrowly focussed, uncompromising, maybe even selfish. As I approach middle-age, it isn't yet everything I've ever dreamed of but it's getting there. I make a good living from my art. I have the means to travel and live where I want. I have the freedom to explore the outermost reaches of both my imagined and real worlds.
I'm beholden to very few. Best of all, I can be myself.
I remind myself every day not to take any of this for granted.


Sarah Dopp said...

Whew. Thank you. I'm choosing between employment or continued creative freelancing right now and needed to hear this.

(p.s. oh, and hi. @gapingvoid's a friend of mine and told me to start following your work -- which i assumed, at first, was just because we share the same haircut. turns out your blogging and twittering about process and perspective have become immensely helpful to me. thank you.)

Gretchen Kelly said...

I too have been following you to hear about your daily process. I do daily paintings and post too. Also, chose my artistic career, design career instead of a traditional route. It's hard to make money these days and I am always remaining open to the Universe to show me what direction to go in and truly believe that it supports me as the Artist that I am called to be on this planet - just like you. Thanks for your regular input on where you're at.

Alena Fresquet said...

hazel I have news for you, you have reached young adulthood not midlife. Thirties are the best time ever and given what you have accomplished, seem even more promising than you can imagine. A world that you have created stands before you! . You are very, very young enjoy this wonderful age. When I hit 33, I started having nightmares about aging instead of enjoying the moment.. " you are the Younger version of your future Self !" you are an inspiration to all who read your blog and see your work. Thanks !!!!!

andrea said...

If being beholden to others is a negative thing for you then absolutely, you have made the right choice.

Anonymous said...

"I wonder if I'd be happier..."

When, at the age of 17, it came time to decide what I was going to do with my life, I ignored my gut and took the McJob route, out of fear.

I've spent the last 10 years masquerading under the guise of "building a 'career,'" and I can tell you, without a doubt: You would be absolutely miserable. If you'd turned out anything like I have, you'd be stuck in a house you can't afford, on 4 prescriptions for stress-related illnesses, wondering what you'd done to deserve 9 hours of daily punishment.

And here's the kicker: I'm leaving this comment anonymously, because if I don't keep up the act that "I'm just as happy as happy can be" about having a job "in this economy," (BARF) I may no longer have one- and then I wouldn't have health insurance to keep me in the house I can't afford, and on all those prescriptions.

I'm sorry to "dump" here, but the moral is: DON'T. EVER. QUIT.

Anonymous said...

This post has such a somber tone, but once again you touch on something a lot of people don't understand about this career and dare I

It doesn't go away on Friday at 5PM, and it doesn't start each day at 9AM. You REALLY live the artistic life, and I've found that it doesn't always mesh with the schedules of those who matter to you.

Still, I think there are ways to help make it easier, but what you're saying makes a lot of sense to me.