What Does Artistic Success LOOK Like?

Wouldn’t we all like to know, right?

Yes! We all want to be a great “success” in our chosen field, and many artists have a clear idea of what they need to be successful. Speaking for myself, I thought success would mean the end of financial struggle, to a point. As a person with mental illness (Bipolar Disorder and PTSD for starters) and physical handicaps (use your imagination), I felt that my “happy day” would come when I could pay my bills and buy my art supplies, and eat what and where I wanted, with a few more bucks to put by.80B2AA6A-B993-41D9-AC94-BE325A4F596C

I’ve been working toward that end for over 50 years now, and while my life has been unusual (to put it mildly), I fancied that with all my obvious creative talent my art would be sought after. Notice that I did not say “highly” sought after. No, I tried to be realistic-it would take some time to get well known, etc… Well, that day I envisioned, that “happy” future success day has not come. Big sigh, and big pity party…

.  Wait. Just. One. Minute…

What am I talking about? All of my life I dreamed of a time when I could create my art whenever I wanted! I dreamed of pursuing My artistic vision! Did you, also? I have made that time for myself, I have chosen to pursue my artistic life no matter what my life circumstances. No time to paint? I get my paints out at 10 pm. some days. No where to paint? I live in a single wide mobile home, crammed to the gills with projects I’m working on! No money for canvas? I find things in the trash, at thrift stores, on ebay-cheap things that no one wants anymore- and I find ways to make them unique, colorful, extraordinary …

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Success! From a Broken Cement Block!
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Intergalactic Dragonfly made of Trash
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Gutters, Plastic Containers,Spaghetti Forks!
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An Old Patio Table!
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Recycled Everything!
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My Dream in Progress
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My Dreams Taking Flight!

.  At this very moment, right now, I have no bread in the house. No bread, about a half cup of milk and some ramen. (Not the “Cup o Lunch ” kind with the veggies either.) Not to get too personal, but 2-ply T-P. (Feel your little butt tighten up?) Am I crying the blues here? Making myself seem a martyr? An arter-martr? (sorry, I just had a silly moment…)

.  No, I am telling you that I AM a success. I AM AN ARTIST SUCCESS STORY.

.   Let that stew a moment: A  50-something improperly-art-educated-disabled-crazywoman-in-a-run-down-trailer-park-in-a-flood-zone-with-no-homeowners’ insurance-no-coffee-using-2-ply-TP is a SUCCESSFUL ARTIST?!?

Woop woop! Yup, that’s me!

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my idea of an artistic selfie!

.  I have no looming prospects of fame, of a sudden, amazing “breakout” work, or even of a teeny weeny inheritance, but I am as happy as a clam in mud, happy as an accountant with a pen that works, happy as a rotund, pink, rather hairless, animal who squeals in a pile of feces!

I have chosen to live my Artist’s dream, to get up each day and paint a stroke, glue a something together, write a poem. I am not too broke to go get a gallon of milk or decent toilet paper, neither am I well off enough to buy the best brushes, or even decent canvas.

But I am an ARTIST. That is who I am, and that is what I make a conscious choice to do. Every day of my successful life. Hey, it’s wonderful to be on top, isn’t it?cropped-win_20170422_17_22_37_pro-5_li.jpg

.  This is not just a litany of my own happiness with my art career, which I would define not really as a “career”, but as a life choice…No, I want to help YOU , dear reader, to see where your own happiness lies. What are you holding out as your carrot? What does your “success” look like? Are you, like so many, comparing where you are to what other artists are experiencing? Are you kicking yourself for not painting a still life, when that’s what Mr. Prize Winner painted in the last show? Were you let down when they announced the “winners” to the last member’s show you entered? (yeah, me too…) See what  I mean? Are we longing for some recognition, some prize or award, another feather in our cap, while we miss the sensual sensation of paint flowing onto canvas ? Or the startling moment when that perfect shade of turquoise comes to life on our palette? Or, here’s one: The moment when you jump up saying ” Yes! I got it!” because the line you laid down is exactly where you want it to be?

.  Yes, my artist friend, these are the true successes. I never want to be Michaelangelo wishing I was Davinci. Can you imagine? The creator of the “David” wishing he had painted the “Mona Lisa”? Thinking he was not a successful artist?

.  Let us remember this wonderful gift we have now, and revel in it, delight in it! Then all of our art will be successful.

 

 

About Susan T. Martin

I am an Artist, Poet and Author. A Survivor of Violent Sexual Abuse and Rape, I have lived thru Severe Domestic Violence, Twenty Three years of Addiction and Alcoholism, Family Dysfunction, Chronic Pain, Dependence on Opioids, and 2 Venomous Snake Bites...I have Been Stabbed, Shot at, Tied to a Tree and Choked Unconscious. A Quarter Horse Rolled on Me, as did a Lawn Tractor. I also Wrecked a Harley into a Tree! I also have PTSD and Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder, and spent my 18th birthday in a Locked Psychiatric Ward. I am so much more than this: I feel like a tiny seed that sprouted in a desert, and now has grown into a Passion Vine. My Art is my Voice, Screaming, Crying, Praying, Loving, Laughing, Healing- all in Riotous Color...