Face Making

Le blog de l’artiste peintre franco-américaine Gwenn Seemel. Les articles sont en anglais et en français, et souvent ils sont bilingues.

Still here / Toujours là

2011 . 08 . 01 - Comments / Commentaires (16)

That’s the secret to being an artist.

Voilà comment être un artiste.

- Cultivating self-confidence / Comment cultiver la confiance en soi
- Dealing with rejection / Faire face au refus
- The starving artist and the sell-out

- Security in freelancing / La sûreté de travailler pour soi-même
- Dealing with rejection / Faire face au refus
- Momentum / L’élan

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(16) Comments / Commentaires: Still here / Toujours là


Still here, indeed.

I am glad to say that when I tell people I am an artist I get the pleasant surprise kind of reactions (but I’m not that social and I don’t meet that many people smile.

But I remember when I was at school and told people I was studying art. Most people would tell me (both young and old) that I was wasting my time and I should be doing something that would assure me a career. Some of the same people now hate their jobs or decided to change career path at some point, and do something creative. And I’m graceful enough not to remind them of their old idea of studying something “useful”.

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Thank you Gwenn ~ I needed this, I to have been there and Tania I too listened and did what was told was useful. :(

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Wow - that reaction at the dinner party was incredibly rude. Luckily I have not encountered anything like that - I also get the responses Tania described. I always introduce myself as a painter rather than as an artist. It gets to the point - artist has become a kind of vague term.

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Tre ~...

true to our hearts never needs justifying or explaining….sounds like you maintained grace, poise, integrity in your response…such helpful insights that you explained for those who need to separate themselves from others’ reactions.
appreciate your work and your perspective much. wink

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Rachel Heu...

Hi Gwenn, The “moment” where the support network turns to the “practical”: I think was when I was trying to decide what I was going to do after high school. Really, it was a mixture and in retrospect I wish that I had the confidence not to listen to any of it. But the neat thing about life, is that no matter where you are, you can always become re-centered and start over.

I am not yet making a living doing art… but I do run into sarcastic remarks about my intentions. Mostly now, I ignore them and realize that person doesn’t know what they are talking about. It forces an artist to get a thicker skin—which, to come full circle, will only help the art. When someone says something rude, it only makes me hungrier; makes me work harder.—Rachel

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Maxine Wolodko...

Thanks for this Gwenn. I have a constant battle between what I WANT to do and what I SHOULD do. On a positive note - my children see me painting all the time. Often we work at it together and I hope they see that it can always be part of their lives, whether it is a career or just for fun.

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Thank you all for your responses!  It’s always interesting to see how different people respond to similar pressures.

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Nanci Hersh...

There is something to be said for Still Here.  Even among art students that I went to undergrad school many moons ago. How many wonderful art students there were who are still here?  It takes resilience, dedication and support one way or another. 

And you are right that couple’s reaction does say more about them - even if it means they just don’t know how to relate to someone choosing a different path.  Not always easy for sure, but we wouldn’t want it any other way, right?!

Thanks for the post.

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I’ve been thinking a lot about how persistence only really works if you know why you are persisting. 

There was a time not too many years ago when I defined myself completely by the fact that I painted only portraits.  Now I know better.  It’s not the portraits that make me the artist I am and encourage me to persist: it’s something bit more subtle!

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Dale Anne Potter...

Still here indeed!!!
AWESOME video & I will be sharing!!!

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CF Legette...

You hit the nail on the head. It is not a personal attack but it is an attack on creativity. How many times have you had a show or sale and the first thing you hear is “I took a class or I’m going to take a painting class…” Did down it is actually saying I wish I could. An artist knows when they have it. If they don’t they won’t. If they do, they do.
Encouragement comes in all forms. Sometimes the motivation from a received negative comment can spark a movement.

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Such a good point!  Adversity can be a great motivator.

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Margaret Vanderlaan...

That is a truly inspiring statement and i see artists today round me who are dedicated and talented and just go for it, nothing stopping them from doing what they love, but some find it tough to make a living through their art, and that sometimes worries me.

I am a young student still in school, in my 5th year, im currently looking at career paths and i love art,and im thinking of becoming an artist and also an art therapist possibly.

You must have been asked this a million times, well i just wanted to know what inspired you to be an artist and what dedicates you to push through?

Expression of the heart needs to be seen and heard, art is one form of expression and artists get inspired from a memory, a feeling or even a person smile

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I didn’t have one moment of inspiration.  I mean I must have made the decision to go for it at one point, but I really just remember that all of a sudden I was going for it.

In both positive and negative ways, it has to do with my parents.  They signed me up for all sorts of art classes when I was younger (I talk about one particularly influential one in this vlog).  They nurtured my education as an artist and they invited me to move back in with them after college.  I stayed with them for almost a year and a half.  Since I didn’t have to pay rent, I could build up some capital with the earnings from my first commissions and properly launch myself as an artist.

That said, over the years they have sent me the opposite message as well, wanting me to do something else with my life.  In their case, I think it has less to do with propriety and more to do with worrying about my future, about how I will take care of myself (especially as I’ve developed a chronic illness).

In the end, I push through for 3 reasons:

1) I can’t do anything else.  And by that I really mean that I don’t want to, so I work extra hard to make sure I don’t have to.

2) I feel strongly that my work is contributing to society, something that too few artists believe.

3) There are lots of people who’ve told me I couldn’t be an artist and I’m just contrary enough to be an artist just to spite them!

Best of luck, and bon courage, Margaret!

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Not just for professional artists, but I think we need to stop squashing creativity in all people, in all walks of life. I don’t like the connotation that being open to ideas and possibility, means that we aren’t responsible or practical.

Great point… perseverance has a lot to do with it… it’s much easier to give up.

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So true.  If creativity were fostered in every field and in every walk of life, we’d all be a lot better off!

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