I chatted with a watercolor painting workshop student the other day who sighed, "I'm not a real artist. I probably never will be." "Why?" I asked.
"First, because I'm still taking painting workshops and learning. Second, because I don't make a living off of my art."
No artist ever arrives at his destination, but it's the journey that brings about the best art. County Road, available as an original watercolor painting and limited edition print, by Steve Henderson.
Let's talk about the first statement first. No artist ever "arrives." There is never a point, in a true artist's life, when he or she sits back and says, "Well, I've learned all there is about art. I'll just keep painting the way I am now, because there's no place to go from here." Even typing it sounds supercilious, conceited, and egotistical.
All artists are constantly, consistently learning, and if a workshop from another artist propels them to the next stage of their development, then that workshop is a good thing, something to point at with pride and not embarrassment.
Artists are always looking at other artists' work, and while generally, a more advanced artist can figure out a still life painting technique or watercolor method with which to experiment by analyzing a colleague's work, he or she is able to do this because of hours and hours of experience in the studio.
And that is a key component of being a real artist: working in that studio, playing with paint, analyzing color, wrestling with composition, getting frustrated and wanting to roast hot dogs over a bonfire of canvases, but always, always, learning and spending a decent amount of time doing so.
Next week: Lots of money and being a "real artist" do not necessarily go together.