Why Do So Many People Give Up?

There are so many people in the world who want to be an artist. Evidenced by the healthy enrolment at a huge offering of art instruction across the country. Of those starting out with a dream of being an artist I’d hazard to guess more than 2/3’s will give up before they reach their goal. Why? 

For many people their enrolment and interest in art is nothing more than as a pastime or hobby, with no dreams of becoming the next Monet. I make no judgements on whether people in that group are considered artists or not. That is a completely different context from what I am referring to here. People falling into this group very well may have traits similar to the working artist, or they may not.

For others failure is often the result of a lack of commitment. Although the actual reasons can be as varied as the personalities of those trying to become an artist, commitment lies at the roots. There must be a commitment to overcome financial hurdles, commitment to finding enough time to dedicate to creating, commitment to overcome all of the roadblocks along the way (and there are many). 

Impressionist 8×10” oil on panel plein air landscape from late spring.

For the working artist, their commitment is often at a level of obsession. I know few painters who do not eat, sleep, and live painting, often at the expense of many other things in life – a clean house, a well manicured garden, elaborate meals, and even an active social life. You will likely find the friends of an artist are other artists. Few others understand how our life works and the need to give our art (and spending copious amounts of time alone) priority over being available to socialize.

Few people are willing to give up enough of their time to dedicate to art. It isn’t something one can excel in without putting in more time than the occasional free weekend every couple of months. It requires daily study and practice.

A successful artist has determination. A quality needed to overcome failed paintings, rejection notices, and the difficulties of selling art. Their desire to succeed must overcome their fear of failure. They must have the attitude that nothing will stop them from realizing their goal. There has to be a stubbornness to get over being bad at the beginning, because almost all of us are.  “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again”, is the mantra of many.

A successful artist has a fire in their bellies that can’t be ignored. Call it passion, yearning, obsession, or whatever you want. It’s a quality that can’t be forced. Maybe we don’t all have it at the beginning, or maybe we do. I don’t know. But I do know, a  successful artist becomes addicted to creating to the point they must create just as much as they must breathe. There is no question to them not being an artist. It goes beyond an occupation to being who they are as a human being.

As a painter, my obsession is such that while driving I’m not seeing trees and valleys, I am seeing cadmium yellow light with cerulean highlights,  yellow ochre with ultramarine shadows, and cadmium red, ultramarine, titanium white, and just a hint of yellow ochre in the valley. While working in photography I saw compositions, the play of light, and visual stories waiting to be told. Perhaps a sculpture sees angles and contours. I often think it’s an addiction far worse than drugs or alcohol. No interventions required……….