'What do artists do?' and Standing Prior Green, 12x9

'Standing Prior Green', 12x9" Pastel ©2011, Brenda Boylan

The weather has been teasing us Oregonians for far too long with promising weather and finally the cloud cover broke, so outdoors to paint I went...with layers and layers of sweatshirts. Winter reminds us it is still early spring and it still gets really cold here between weather systems. I actually went out for three days straight, but my plein air work was so rusty from my winter hibernation that I'm only going to post this one piece which was from today's outing. This stand of trees is located close in my community, on the back side of a strip mall and business park. Beautiful trees of oak, ash and possibly an elm here and there make for a sensitive rendering. I have had my eye on this spot for some time for a painting destination, but finally today I actually went. Now that I've been there, it's so convenient that it may be considered my second favorite place to paint. Sauvie Island is my first.

So, I have to share this conversation I had with a gentleman I met at a birthday party this past weekend.

In the usual flow of chit-chatty conversation, people eventually end up asking what you do for a living. When I am asked this question, I blurt out my elevator spiel and everyone should know by then, golly, that I am an artist.....but has anyone ever asked you 'What do artist's do?' Yes, I was asked this in a most direct and serious manner and I thought, 'Yes, finally someone wants to understand all that we do besides painting perty pictures all day long." OK, I'm being a tiny bit sarcastic here, but really, this was a great question for anyone to ask of an artist.
Artists do a lot of different things. We do accounting, advertising, marketing, inventory, cleaning, assembling, analyzing (critiquing), communication, purchasing, and the occasional entertaining...oh, and don't forget the painting...yes, the best part. Our conversation was a healthy one at that, because I got to understand what he does (he's an engineer), and he explained clearly and simply what engineers do. It's fascinating to learn in depth about others' careers, but even more so important to explain the unusual life's work of an artist, and it ain't all perty pictures. What do you do for a living and how do you explain to others what you get to do?

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

beautiful work, the colours suggest a warmth rising from the earth that belies the cold that you describe.
what do i say? i can't say i am an artist because i don't have the consistency in my work to say so; my day job is in education and it allows me to spend most months of the year painting and going away every now and then to hoard together some money for more painting materials and some bread and cheese;) i confidently say i am a teacher trainer and one day i may say i am an artist... so far, i say i paint:)

4/20/11, 3:11 AM  
Blogger Casey Klahn said...

I have to say my elevator blurb doesn't include an explanation for what an artist does.

I am looking hard at your new painting - very, very good. Simple, and yet organized just so. Great one, Brenda.

4/20/11, 7:34 AM  
Anonymous SUSAN RODEN said...

Great landscape and wonderful commentary here Brenda. I usually get instead- "It must be fun to play and paint all day!" The majority of the public doesn't realize how difficult it is to be an Artist.
Couldn't imagine being anything else though:)

4/20/11, 8:07 AM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

Thank you for your sharing of "What do artists do", with the engaging reply.
I've often been surprised that when giving the answer of working as an Artist, there has been a quick reply that is a projection of what someone thinks an artist's life is like. These responses can also be quite different. So I listen and then add my part if they care to hear the other reality.

4/20/11, 9:40 AM  
Blogger Donna T said...

You are right, Brenda, those are sensitive trees and that spring green ... Wow! Oh alright I'll say it for you: this is perty!!! I hope to be able to say I'm a working artist someday. At the moment I'm just a domestic engineer. The laundry awaits ...

4/20/11, 9:53 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Hi Rahina,
I applaud you for fitting art into your very busy life as an educator, even if it's every once in a while. Educators are SO important, it sounds like you love what you do.

Hi Casey,
My elevator blub is pretty short too, just enough to get the point across in plain english. HA! Thanks for the compliments on this one. Can you see the lichen on the trees...definitely Oregon!

Susan, Yes, most people say that to me too. I loved his inquiry and was glad to share that there is more to being an artist besides the obvious. It made me stop and think. I couldn't imaging being anything else either.

Suzanne, it surprises me too, but then again not. It's kind of like when you are out plein air painting...a bystander will usually stop by and ask the question..."Are you an artist?" (No, I'm just here faking it.)

Donna, you crack me up! My laundry waits too..and the dinner, cleaning bathrooms and picking up the kids afterschool. Oh, and thanks for the compliment...for that matter, thanks to all of you for the kind words on this first attempt back out.

4/20/11, 10:22 AM  
Blogger Kim Vanlandingham said...

LOL! Funny post and I think I'm so odd, when I tell people I'm an artist, they seem to think to themselves, "of course you are"! LOL!

4/20/11, 11:49 AM  
Blogger Brenda Boylan said...

Glad you liked this post Kim, wouldn't you just love to know what others REALLY think? Like, reading their mind or something to that extent. Or better yet, maybe tatoo "artist' on my forehead...that'll get 'em asking! HA!

4/20/11, 4:25 PM  

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