“Pray as though everything depended on God. Work as though everything depended on you.”
~ Saint Augustine ~
To be a true artist requires one show up at the easel every day. Although this requirement is as simple as prayer very few seem willing to make their art a integral part of their daily living.
Everyone I have met wants to make a living from their art and they want to know the secret of doing so. I tell everyone who asks that there are no shortcuts or a recipe for success. Just as I have done today, I tell everyone that wants to be a true artist about the need of showing up at the easel, sketchbook or drawing table every single day, in sickness and in health until death do you part and just as with prayer there are no valid excuses for not doing so. I even inform them that five minutes a day at the easel is enough to meet this requirement. Just like with everything else today everyone wants to receive “the blessings” for “free”. Very few seem to willing to do the work or make the commitment.
Saint Augustine said we must pray but also do our part in making our requests come to fruition. So many artists complain about not being given opportunities or about the lack of sales of their work. These very same individuals do not show up at the easel everyday nor do they act on opportunities that they are given. Some go even as far as to sabotage a gift that they have been given so as to not have to meet their half of the obligation: to show up at the easel.
If we do not stand at the easel every day how can we expect our “prayers” to be answered? God and the universe do not work that way. Our responsibility is to take action and in the case of the artist to participate in the act of creation.
If you cannot stand at your easel in the easy times what makes you think that you will be strong enough to do it in the hard times?
Most are simply not cut out to do the hard work.
This leads me to the second and perhaps the most important factor of being a true artist.
Faith requires us to believe without getting an immediate result or even an acknowledgement for our devotion and hard work. In our add water and stir society, people expect immediate results and rewards. Most are completely unaware of the universal “time delay”. Can you imagine what our world would be like if our prayers and wishes were processed immediately?
This time delay should allow us to sort things out creatively and find our own truth through the act of creation.
Without faith in the work you are doing and faith in something higher than yourself you will never be able to stand at the easel regularly at all. You have probably noticed that Saint Augustine included two aspects in achieving our goal. Our goals as artists can only be attained through the unification of both aspects…the spiritual and through very hard work.
Saint Augustine didn’t just say pray did he?
In today’s secular world people who would be artists like to think that they can achieve everything by themselves. They do not believe in Kandinsky’s spirit. They also believe that they do not need friends and think they only need to shove their work in the right peoples faces to get to wherever they think they are going. They lie, cheat, use other people and trample on everyone in an attempt to get somewhere first. Most are seemingly ignorant of the true nature of the journey of the artist.
There has not been one artist in history that has “made it” on his or her own. The truth be told, behind every successful artist there are other successful artist friends. There are also deep and meaningful relationships involved.
How can anyone have a deep and meaningful relationship with another human being if we are unwilling or unable to have a relationship with something greater than ourselves?
Job’s faith was tested by the devil. These are hard times for many including the artist. We may be facing financial challenges that we have not seen in a decade or more. Just like Satan in the story of Job those closest to us may be trying to test our resolve to be creative and to be artists. They may intentionally or unintentionally try and put obstacles in our way and to keep us from showing up at the easel every day. We may be told that what we are doing is a complete waste of time and money. Our faith may be shaken by the lack of sales or interest in our work. It is in these hard times that our faith may falter. We may give up hope entirely.
Job was a proud man. Satan figured he would win if he could take away everything he had. The only thing that the devil couldn’t take from Job was his faith in a higher power.
Our faith is being tested…my faith is being tested. After thirty years I know with absolute certainty that my salvation will be found through hard work in the studio. I will stand at the easel at all costs. I know that I must do my part if I am to believe that the higher power will do his. I also know with absolute certainty that I cannot achieve any of my goals without his help either. I cannot do this alone.
I have been so blessed up until now to have had the opportunity to pursue my creative connection to the source. If I wish to continue in this blessing I have to bolster my faith.
We need not know how we are to survive this…we just need to have faith that we will…
The blessings of living the life of a true artist are truly beyond description.