How To Be An Artist

your life has meaning
your life has purpose
simply because you exist

This was from Will Ross1, and for me this solved the typical artists over-concern and cognitive distortion that your work has value, or meaning due to some external condition. Such as sales or publication or some such nonsense that defines your ‘goodness’ as an artist. Albert Ellis2 in his book The Myth of Self Esteem laid this out for me in way that was elegant and simple: the purpose of life is satisfaction, throw the notion of self esteem in the garbage and pursue satisfaction.

Alan Dunning3 my influence at Art School taught me that people can be talked into buying anything, and they will, this has nothing to do with art, this has to do with salesmanship.

But my kid needs to make a living, parents would complain when I started teaching art. So get him trained as an accountant as well, it’s a good living, take it anywhere, making a living is easy, making art is having a life for an artist. Anything less is conditional acceptance of your kid, child abuse by definition. You say I abuse my kid? Abandonment is the most common abuse, so when you force her away from her dreams, to fit your ideal of security, yes that’s child abuse. You have said your kid can’t handle life and given them a lifetime of anxiety. By this time the parents were long past listening and the Art School suggested I teach adults instead, exorcising Bob Ross, the creature rather than dealing with the dereliction of children by right wing oil magnates.

Reading the Paris Review4 interview with George Saunders he speaks of how as a child his parents gave him unconditional love (they didn’t) as the only way to get attention (love) was by being popular, extroverted and funny. We introverts are often therefore lonely forlorn and abandoned by ourselves because we haven’t learned to value ourselves for ourselves because no one else does.

So he made a career of being popular and liked and funny. And gave himself lifelong anxiety lest he should ever fail to be published or popular or a good provider. Having 10 framed photographs of Buddhist teachers around him when he worked, an old and popular distraction from anxiety. Not a cure though, one needs unconditional self acceptance for that.

I met a woman yesterday, working as a clerk in a grocery I was at, and we chatted. Her kid got a degree in painting and just got a masters in fine art, and Mom approaching retirement, is working in a grocery store helping to make this possible because it satisfys her.

I like her a lot.