If It’s So Much Fun, Why Are Artists So Crazy, Depressed, Moody and Weird?

TC Auto Sales, Medford, OR Oil Painting by Sarah F Burns
TC Auto Sales, Medford, OR

I read an interesting article about discovering the current stereotype of a city by typing “why is ————- so” and letting Google’s auto complete fill in the common searches. That led me to wonder what the stereotype for artists is these days.  So I keyed “why are artists” and then “why are artists so”  and guess what — people think artists are weird, poor, liberal, sensitive, emotional, depressed, moody, messy and important.  Crazy also came into play.  (At least some people think we’re important – but they didn’t know why, because they wanted Google to tell them. )

This experiment came on the heels of a day out painting plein air in downtown Medford.  I thought I’d found a quiet street but there were lots of people who came by and if they said anything they mostly said something like, “Looks like you’re having fun!”  Fun.  Okay.  It’s kind of true, but it’s pretty revealing about what people generally think artists are doing.   Art is fun when things are going well.  When you’re in a groove, when you’re so engrossed that you don’t need to eat, won’t answer the phone etc, BUT people don’t get that if we’re supposed to be anything but Sunday painters having a nice hobby in retirement that it takes consistent, persistent WORK.  And struggle.  In the moments when the best work is created there is a zone that is awesome, but to get into the zone you have had experiences that are to the right or left of the zone, where you over correct and have some painful crashes.  For me, to achieve the work I want to create, I’ve had to study and keep at it, and even now I have goals I want to achieve that I have to study and work at a whole lot more.  Not only that, the very best artists make art every day, which I almost do, but not quite.  The fact is, I couldn’t make anything that anyone would care to see without having put in in tons of time and thought and preparation over many years.  Fun, on the other hand, is  a nice dinner with friends and family.  Fun is playing at the beach.  Fun is relaxation. Painting is sublime, but it’s work.  It’s exhilarating and heart breaking.  It’s more fun than fun and it’s not fun at all.

Being misunderstood may just be why we’re so crazy, depressed, weird and moody all the time.   😉

Fixed

A belated post with my efforts for the Fixed Show at Ashland Painters Union April 2013.

Fixed was the theme and show title, a conceptual show thought up by – suprise, suprise – a college student member. When I thought of an idea that worked with what I like to do, I got less sarcastic about it and made four paintings from the exact same location, just looking different directions.

Looking South-ish in Phoenix, OR at the RR tracks on First St.
Looking South-ish in Phoenix, OR at the RR tracks on First St.
Phoenix, Oregon, First Street Looking North-ish
Phoenix, Oregon, First Street Looking North-ish
Phoenix, Oregon, First St Railroad Tracks, Looking North North East (ish)
Phoenix, Oregon, First St Railroad Tracks, Looking North North East
Phoenix, Oregon, First Street at the Railroad Tracks, Looking East
Phoenix, Oregon, First Street at the Railroad Tracks, Looking East

The show was pretty awesome, lots of interesting work, and so the idea turned out to be a good one.  I actually have lots of ideas similar to this concept for landscape painting that for the most part I’m too lazy to do.  So Anyway.  Thanks Q.

Plein Air Medford

Garfield and 99 Medford web
Oil on panel 12″ x 20″

Garfield and Hwy 99, near the new Rogue Federal Credit Union and the new Super Walmart. You can see the new Harry and David building to the right in green. New New NEW!

Inspirations

I just got back from a visit to San Francisco where I went to the De Young museum to see the  Girl with a Pearl Earring show, along with Etching from Rembrandt and his contemporaries.  I found it very inspiring, especially all the etchings, they are so intricate and invite you to spend several minutes with each piece, I was surprised to find them even more engaging than many paintings.  The etching pieces varied in technical ability, some being astonishing in their technical prowess and some (the Rembrandts) were stunning in their communication of humanity and emotion.  There were goofy ones, ones that glorified the state, religious scenes that were moving (Rembrandt), religious scenes that were like crazy pageants, simple home scenes, landscapes and on and on.  Then came the paintings – wonderful banquet tables with meats and lemons and cloth, the flowers that I so love and the stunning Vermeer.  That Vermeer is absolutely wonderful.  (Side note:  Like the Mona Lisa, she has no eyebrows.!? Curious.)

Johannes_Vermeer_(1632-1675)_-_The_Girl_With_The_Pearl_Earring_(1665)

Rembrandt_van_Rijn_Etching_1-1

cornelis visscher the large cat

Dutch Fools Etching

Distractions

I know so many new babies and babies that will soon be here and the last few months I’ve been going nuts making baby dresses.  Not the kind of creating I usually do, a great obsession for the evenings.  Here are just a few things for my new niece who will be born in about a month!

Green Bee Iris Dress
Green Bee Iris Dress
Green Bee Iris Tank with Oliver + S  Puppet Show Shorts
Green Bee Iris Tank with Oliver + S Puppet Show Shorts
Oliver + S Apple Picking Dress
Oliver + S Apple Picking Dress
Oliver + S - Apple Picking Dress
Oliver + S – Apple Picking Dress
Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress
Oliver + S Family Reunion Dress

A Few Recent Drawings

I quit my day job!  As of May 1, I’m a full time artist.  Yikes! (Just kidding, I’m not really scared about it.  Feels great.)  I’ve been painting up a storm outside, lots to scan and show, but for now here are a few new drawings.

BethIngridJacy

I Just Got Featured on the Etsy Blog!

Get the Look  is a regular feature on Etsy that I always enjoy and I’m super stoked to have been included in today’s post!  It’s a sweet loft on Airbnb in Detroit (somewhere I dream of going to do landscape painting, maybe I could stay at this place…)  Check out the full post here.

detroit-master-01D

Newly Listed Sketches

Heather Jenkinson InteriorsIt’s hard to spot – but that’s one of my figure sketches in the right hand photo on this London interior designer’s photo.  She shops on Etsy. : ) Yay!  Thanks Heather!

I just added a few new drawings to my Etsy Shop

Rachel
Rachel – Charcoal on Paper 11″ x 14″ 
xyara web
Xyara – Graphite on Paper, 11″ x 14″ 
Amina Odalisque
Amina Odalisque – 12″ x 17″ 

Pear Packing Alley, South Fir Street Medford, Oregon

Pear Packing Alley,  South Fir Street Medford, Oregon

Pear Packing Alley, South Fir Street Medford, Oregon Oil on Panel, 12″ x 16″ $500

Last Friday I woke up to a glorious sunny day – the first in months!  We always get a February false spring – or February Fake Out, as some call it.  Warm weather for a few days before it starts to rain again.  I gathered up my stuff and headed to a street in Medford that I’ve wanted to paint for a long time.  Pear orchards have been a large part of the local economy here for years and this street – S. Fir  St in Medford hosts both Naumes and Tree Top packing plants. Playing with and paying attention to the perspective on this one was super fun.  It was fantastic to be out working en plein air after many months stuck in the studio.  Of course I have grand plans again this year to spend much, much  more time painting outside. We shall see!