Artists Just Want To Be Significant

Updated on November 11, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Reading takes you on a journey
Reading takes you on a journey | Source

Why Do We Create Art?

Recently I asked a group of friends what broke their hearts about their art (including photography, painting, music, writing, graphic design, etc) and the answers I got were varied and interesting. The one that I ignored mostly was the one I both understand and confused me. The young man basically felt no one understands him through his art.

"Jon: I hate that no one can truly understand me through art. That no matter how much of myself I put into my work, they can only analyze, appreciate it, and learn a little more from it. Because no one can fully relate based solely on artistic expression; only in conjunction with one’s own experiences can they make a connection."

Art is an adventure
Art is an adventure | Source

Art and Understanding

The more I thought about it the more I began to get what he was trying to say. At some level, we all want to be understood and be relevant to the audience we create for. When they don’t understand what we paint, write, sing, etc, we feel that we have failed as an artist. The bottom line is to be relevant. If it isn’t relevant, what is the purpose?

Every artist dips his brush in his own soul, and paints his own nature into his pictures.

— Henry Ward Beecher
Look for the art in everything
Look for the art in everything | Source

What Is The Purpose?

Or am I wrong? He said, “ Only in conjunction with one’s own experiences can they make a connection.” That seems to be the key. The most popular paintings are ones where the audience feels a connection. The most sold books are ones where the writer weaves a story were many people and relate and ‘feel’ the protagonist’s dilemma. The most popular songs are ones where the lyrics grab you at a deep level even if you don’t understand all that it is saying. For instance, Simon and Garfunkel’s Sounds of Silence grabbed me as a teenager even though I didn’t understand all of the lyrics as I do now.

We have art so that we shall not die of reality.

— Friedrich Nietzsche
The Water Pixie
The Water Pixie | Source

Crickets

K: So you know when you send off the completed album and then crickets. My own sister!

This photographer gets it. We are looking for feedback. Something, anything. Even if it is negative feedback it’s better than crickets. After you put your time, talents, years of experience and effort into a commission and then you hear nothing. For days. For weeks.

Books are filled with adventure
Books are filled with adventure | Source

Working For The Church

My husband had this problem. As a videographer, he would work on creative promos for church events and after finishing a project he would wait. And wait. And wait. The suspense is hard to take. Finally, he would email and still crickets. Then he would call and speak to their answering machine. It broke my heart to see him question his work, his talent, his basic worth because they didn’t even respond for a month. Then what they told him was that they loved it but didn’t want to pay his price. That’s a nice thing to say after finishing the project for them.

I love the church and I’m a faithful follower of Jesus, but sometimes His people are the worst to work for. One church loved my husband’s work and wanted to hire him. (Sounds like good news, right?) They wanted to pay him $2 an hour for his work and they wanted it every week. No one can live on that in the US. My husband told them he needed $20 an hour and he never heard from them again. To be honest, his work is worth $200 an hour because of his expertise having worked in Hollywood on the Lavern and Shirley and the Happy Days sets. But churches don’t want to pay what people are actually worth. We understand that the church doesn’t have the funds that Hollywood has but still $2 an hour is an insult.

Books open the world to you.
Books open the world to you. | Source

The point is, art never stopped a war and never got anybody a job. That was never its function. Art cannot change events. But it can change people. It can affect people so that they are changed… because people are changed by art—enriched, ennobled, encouraged—they then act in a way that may affect the course of events… by the way they vote, they behave, by the way they think.

— Leonard Bernstein
Let a book take you away.
Let a book take you away. | Source

Artist’s Pet Issues

Like most people, we artists have pet issues that we feel passionate about. Whether it is domestic violence or endangered species or environmental impact issues, we each have issues that we feel are relevant. And what is more natural than to use our art to express and expand awareness about those issues? However, we get lots of backlash from expressing our views and convictions. The public either doesn’t want to hear it or acts like you are shoving your beliefs down their throats. I know in my case I only want to raise awareness. I’m not shoving anything. My issue is child literacy and child abuse. I love creating the little images of children reading and being carried away by a good book. What could be more significant?

Books are filled with treasures that take you places.
Books are filled with treasures that take you places. | Source

Art is meant to disturb the comfortable and comfort the disturbed.

— Unknown

Final Thoughts

Significance and relevance are basic to human nature. We all want to have it yet we rarely think about giving it and the affirmation that goes with it. Artists work for peanuts so the least we could ask for is the approval of the public.

Questions & Answers

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      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        3 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        William Kovacic,

        Well, there is so much to say on the subject. I really don't want to get negative but it is hard to overlook the discrepancies here. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        3 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        Linda Crampton,

        Thank you. I thought so too. A person should be able to get a living wage even if he is an artist. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • lifegate profile image

        William Kovacic 

        4 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

        You said a bunch here, Denise. And I hear you. Quite relevant, I might add.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 

        4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        I love your art and your quotes. $2 an hour for your husband's work was ridiculous as well as insulting.

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        Lynne Samuel,

        People read and see art through the lenses of their own attitudes and experiences. I don't know why they sometimes don't see our hearts in our work but they don't. Oh well, we tried. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        Mary Norton,

        I got to talk with a famous and successful artist recently and he said the way to go is creating limited-edition printed royalty images. That way you create on painting or photo and have it licensed to be printed on-demand on an assortment of things like plates, T-shirts, iPad cases or laptop cases, etc. That is the only way to actually make a living in art using your original paintings. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        Eric Dierker,

        Yes, helpful critique that helps you grow is better than harsh criticism. There is a difference. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        Dana Tate,

        I know what you mean. Maybe it is true that they only value what they have to pay for like everyone else. And Jesus did say that a prophet (writer, artist, insert your gifting here) is not honored in his own home or hometown. So we are in good company. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

        Denise McGill 

        4 weeks ago from Fresno CA

        Bill Holland,

        Oh, I am with you, my friend. It's like finding a cherished painting you gifted to a friend or family member under their bed or in a closet. (That's an actual event that happened to me.) It says to me that either they don't value what they didn't pay for or they don't care that much for you. I would rather believe the former than the latter. Thanks for commenting.

        Blessings,

        Denise

      • lynnes75 profile image

        Lynne Samuel 

        4 weeks ago from Malaysia

        Quite insightful. I once wrote a poem for a dear friend, pouring my heart into it, so she could understand how much her friendship meant to me. She didn't really get my point, but I think she understood well what I meant. it was a comfort, in a way, that even though she didn't understand my art, she at least understood my passion in using my art to express myself. With some people, that's as good as it gets.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 

        4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        It is sad that there is a lack of support for artists and we take for granted what they do. I was with friends the other night and the Mom complained about their lack of appreciation for the originals she collected.

      • Ericdierker profile image

        Eric Dierker 

        4 weeks ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

        Cool article. I told my son this morning to take down a poster he drew. It stinks. But then we discussed some of his good ones. He agreed on my assessments. Friends let artists know. And we grow. Others do not engage. Sad for them.

      • Dana Tate profile image

        Dana Tate 

        4 weeks ago from LOS ANGELES

        When I first started writing and people misunderstood I spent a lot of time trying to explain my thoughts to my audience. Finally, I just decided to allow them to view the art with the pair of lenses they are wearing.

        We create with a vision and we want people to get it but maybe the beauty of art is that different people will get different things out of it.

        I love the beautiful colorful pictures. Your art is fantastic; for example, I wish I could view the world through your lenses, in order to see how you can create masterpieces out of thin air.

        I became weary of asking family and friends to just read my work. It's almost as if they're not significant because its" you" and that is frustrating.

        Blessings.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 

        4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        I love the message and you are so correct. I often give my novels to friends as a gift, and never hear back from them. Nothing, as if it never happened. Do you suppose it would be asking so much of them to say "I loved that book of yours," or even thanks for the book, but it's not a genre I really enjoy?" But nothing, like it never happened? I don't understand that at all.

      working

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