Work

I’m one of those guys that was not born into an ‘artistically inclined” household.  I inherited some artistic/creative skills from my Mom’s side.  Her brother Bob Mackenzie was an artist but it wasn’t his main source of income. My mother encouraged my imagination as a young boy by making me toys from cardboard and other such things.  It amazed me how such a simple thing as cardboard could be used to make a dump truck that actually’dumped’ and a Tarzan jungle house complete with even a swinging rope (likely some twine or string).

My Dad, although  a benevolent and kind man, was always the dominate personality. His understanding of art  and aesthetic appreciation involved the application of hard grease to tractor fittings.  His senses ‘filled up’ on things like cords of firewood that disappeared into the horizon line rather than  vermilion sunsets ;the perfect ping of a revved up engine as opposed to the swift stroke of a script liner brush. This is all fine , of course. Everyone has a right to their likes and dislikes.  However for a young boy with artistic and imaginative leanings I was on my own.  Such pursuits were secondary, even tertiary to things like sharpening a chainsaw or fixing a motor. My creative inventions seemed to dumbfound my Dad as if he were hit by some shock-and-awe military venture.  Don’t get me wrong.  My parents thought highly of my skills but it left them somehow speechless.  In their world NO ONE made a living at art.  Art was not work because it was not considered paid work.

When I did get paid art jobs the best sympathy they expressed while viewing was to say ” too bad you couldn’t get that on America’s Greatest Home Videos or something…”  Then the awkward silence…

Yes I am lamenting a little.  Okay.  Why hide it? If only I had had the encouragement to get to it earlier in life. One wonders but it’s best to pick up where you are and move forward.

The crux of the problem is the mixture of business and pleasure.  Only recently in the history of humankind have we come to realize that to be given the opportunity to do what one likes for a career is in fact both WORK  and PLAY!

There is an element of “play” involved even in the fixing of motors or chopping of  firewood if you like that sort of thing.  Somewhere the idea of WORK in PLAY got lost in many a child’s upbringing.  This leaves the child confused and holds on to the one dictum they know for sure –“Please your parents and you will please yourself”.

I do remember years ago spending weeks on a painting and hand crafting  a large decorative frame only to have someone say’ ” Wow! I’ll give you 50 bucks for it!”   Heavens people!  Fifty dollars for a good painting that took 80 hours to create!

Yes, even if art is work we don’t need (so to speak) it is still work!  This is true of all kinds of artistic things like writing and music, let alone painting or sculpting , etc.  Just because work has an element of personal pleasure attached to it ( at times) does not make it NOT work.  Just because a work brings little monetary return does not make it NOT work.

The amount of blood , sweat, tears and premeditated thought that goes into a creation is work enough to scare off many a grease coated mechanic or fly-bitten woodsman ( yes you can be an artist and a woodsperson, etc) Creating art will always involve work.  It may seem like play…and it is.  However it is no different than tinkering with a gas motor or shingling a roof ( I’ve done both , thank you) when it comes to classifying art as work.

Let’s not kid ourselves and think that art is in demand in the same fashion as coffee, baked goods or firewood.  Everyone needs their car fixed but not everyone needs a painting do they.

Let us establish this here and forever though:  Art is work and work is play regardless of the pay.

Children, teach your parents well.

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