|Darn it, I KNOW I took a photo of my easel in the manure pile, but I can't find it! So you're stuck with the rather-more-normal wet canvas. Never good when someone decides to blot it out for you, which has happened, of course.|
I received an amusing text from a friend this morning that said, “Tough living, this artist stuff. But perhaps less stressful than [a Fortune 500 company at which he works].”
“You really think so?” I responded. Painting for a living has many advantages, but a stress-free life is not among them.
My pal Brad Van Auken is fond of quoting Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers: The Story of Success and its 10,000-Hour Rule. This posits that the key to success in any field is a matter of practicing a specific task for around 10,000 hours.
That would be about five years of full-time work, which is indeed about what a person needs to do to be a good painter. Of course, that’s also more or less equivalent to a graduate degree.
However, painting combines a high level of technical training with the brute force of physical labor. That has led to some wonderful snafus. Consider the time I dumped my easel over a wall and into a manure pile. Or the time I dropped my brushes into Braddock Bay. Or the time my car battery died on a sub-zero day and I had to hike to a farmhouse to cadge a jump. Or the time my car battery died in the Adirondacks and my friend Marilyn Fairman had to hike to a place in cell phone range to call for help. Or the time I sent my umbrella sailing into the Rio Grande, never to be seen again.
When people comment about how much fun painting is—and it is—they aren’t paying attention to the training, the commuting, or the back-office work. They’re reacting to the sheer physicality of it, about not being stuck in an office or a cube farm. In modern America, everyone really wants to be a manual laborer; some of us have actually figured out how to do it.
If you haven’t registered for my workshops but want to, know that October 2013—last session with openings in 2013—is selling out fast. Or, let me know if you’re interested in painting with me in 2014. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops!