The Practical Artist

Sensitive, yet tough — that’s a good definition for an artist. Beachside Diversions, original oil painting and licensed open edition print by Steve Henderson.

From Start Your Week with Steve, the free weekly e-mail newsletter of Steve Henderson Fine Art.

Steve Says:

I just returned from jurying (judging) a regional art show in Idaho, and I am always amazed, and encouraged, by the number of artists who want to talk about their work.

Most artists are self-taught, and part of the self-teaching process is taking advantage of talking to the judge (in this case, me) at a show and finding out what he thought about a particular piece, and why or why not it did not receive a prize.

It’s not easy to approach someone with this question, and I admire and respect all of the artists who did this. Come to think of it, I think I touched bases, personally, with every artist in the show.

Artists like these realize that the ball is very much in their court, and if they are going to improve at what they’re doing, it’s up to them to do so. There is no luxury to sit back, read a book, and in the morning find that the problem or issue they’ve been tackling has been solved. If what needs to be done is going to get done, then they’re the ones who will put in the work.

This highly pragmatic approach to improving oneself does not accord with the typical stereotype of the artist, who is generally thought of as dreamy, spacey, and not in particular touch with reality. Like most stereotypes, it misses the mark entirely, and anyone who is priveleged to spend an evening with people who paint their souls on canvas or sculpted in wood or stone, as the people I visited with this last week, quickly realizes how hard work, passion, imagination, creativity, and pragmatism all work together, seamlessly.

Artists are pretty impressive people, if I do say so myself.

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