Sunday, November 16, 2008

The midlife artist ... walking through those open doors

Last time, I mentioned that I wasn't quite ready to "make the jump" again...wanted to have some other ducks in a row and wondered out loud about whether being a successful artist is an all or nothing deal.

I also mentioned in another post that we emerging midlife artists have an awfully short runway. So today my question is...if we wait to make the jump...is there a "too late"?

I think there is. Let's face it...we aren't going to be the "next NEW young thing"...and we all know of Grandma Moses because it WAS such an unusual career.

I think there's a point in time where you HAVE to give it your all, and waiting for the perfect economic time might not be it. I don't want to look back on my life and realize that I never accomplished my goals because I was paralyzed by making sure I was absolutely financially secure first (are we ever???)

Tina Mammoser is another painter whose work I really love. Tina was a little young to be "midlife" when she made the jump at 30, but she really jumped. She sold a house to finance her art dream! Tina's taken some art paths that didn't suit her entirely, and has the luxury of time to try out and craft what DOES work for her. I think there's a time where you just have to make a decision about security and art...it's definitely something to consider!

Working part time while holding a day job means having to make a lot of choices that really can limit us. MANY open doors are impossible to walk through. There's just not enough time, no matter how efficiently we use it. And which door I walk PAST would have been my entry into the "big break"? I'll never know.

And one door leads to another....

So, deep down I know...if I wait for the perfect financial moment, my art moment will never happen. I have to have the courage to make the jump...

Meanwhile, if you'd like to see my art, my website is http://robinzebley.com . And if you've found this post and would like to read my whole blog, just click on the banner at the top.

8 comments:

Linda Blondheim Art notes said...

There is no doubt that making art a full time career is a risk. I think you have to have a risk oriented personality in order to do that successfully. There is an enormous amount of personal self worth and regard that must be present. It is not enough to think you will survive. You must literally KNOW that you will. Failure is not an option. That is why some artists make it and others don't.
Love,
Linda

Michael Bailey said...

I couldn't agree more with Linda's comment. Many of us have never taken such a risk in life before. It comes down to believing our work is so good we cannot possibly fail but also knowing it is always going to improve and growth and success is inevitable.

Robin said...

Great thoughts, Linda and Michael, thank you both for contributing.

Karen Bowden said...

I took the leap a few years ago. I was working part time and doing art full time. I spent that entire year just starting to get my art feet under me and my world collapsed. I had to get a divorce. So back to fulltime work and part time art! I think back to that year and sometimes regret leaving a well-paying job when I could buy whatever supplies I wanted and had a lot of earned vacation time. But without that year off I would not have met Jerry Yarnell who was the right teacher at the right time. I would never have heard about and joined the Central Florida Watercolor Society or Plein Air Artists. So I wouldn't have all the art friends I have now and know all the art people I know now. I have a great job (right now) with great people and although it is not art related it is still fun and helps me keep up with technology. I'd make the leap again if I could. Who knows? The choice may be made for me in the next few months! I'm ready!

visioneerwindows said...

I am disabled, so in effect, have retired... so that leaves me free to do my art, within the limits of the SS gotten each month... nor, at being 63, does it mean is too late - tho realize am not likely to have 50 productive years ahead of me... so taking the leap is simply doing and showing, doing more and showing more - and yes, within the constraints, joining other artists... I had my leap chance many years ago, selling my art faster than could make it - but the fear of going it alone, no guarantees, was such that the job I had was kept, as so long as did not mess up, it was in effect the guaranteed pay, and art took a 'sometime' path, one which has been regretted... so now, while the hand can move as the mind wants, and the mind moves as the muse wants, it is the doing and doing and doing - showing when can, and bootstrapping to the extend possible... Linda is right - there has to be that risk personality to really go for it, else it just becomes a Grandma Moses phenomenum, an exception...

Elaine said...

In comparing being financially ready to make the leap, to deciding to have children, I clearly remember having those conversations with my husband. He insisting that we had to wait until we could afford children. Me finally convincing him that you can never afford children, so you just have to make the decision and go for it. Making a leap into an art career is same scenario. Most of us will never be able to afford it. But if we want it, we just have to make the decision and go for it. Still supporting children in school, I am not at the point of leaping quite yet. And I sincerely hope that when the time comes, I can jump off of that cliff (because I can only imagine that's what it must feel like).

Dougie said...

I love the idea of making the leap, but, I realistically don't see it happening. For me, I have a really really good paying job that is totally funding my retirement (I'm 43). As much as I love doing artwork and selling my works, I also love having a nice retirement where I can travel/paint around the world and don't have to worry about medical expenses or struggling. It is a chance. The question is: Is the chance worth the risk? For some, definitely... for me, not too sure.

However, I constantly work at building my art business, improving my skills, and making connections. The plan is that, when I retire, I can have a significant income selling paintings and teaching others.

I totally agree with Linda (her blog's really really informative). You must KNOW that you will survive. Right now, I'm not too sure. In 10 years... who knows.

Cat-in-a-Box said...

I think Elaine hit it right on the head - I've had the same sequence of thoughts about an art career and about kids (and about how the two may not mix). I do think there's a wrong time - if you're living out of your car, purposely having kids may not be a great idea. But for most of us it's not that extreme.

I remember long ago an Oprah show about making big changes - one comment that the guest author made was that success can be as much a hindrance as anything.

I, personally, feel that there is a difference between the need to make art and the need to make a career of art. And which side of the risk fence you fall on shows which of those two you truly desire.

But if I could go back in time a few years I'd have started a 'planned career change' fund :)

~ Pam