art is work

While you were in school, it’s quite likely that you had a favourite subject.

And for many people, it’s also likely that that favourite subject was found in some form of ‘the arts’.

Dance, music, art, drama. As a teacher I can tell you that most students list one of these as their favourite subject.

Why is that?

Well, usually it’s just different to everything else, and difference is always refreshing. There is movement, there is variety and there is creativity.

The act of creating itself can be quite calming. Rather than being pushed to understand scientific or mathematical concepts, it’s an escape to a land where rules and regulations impose themselves very differently.

Now as adults, I rarely meet a person who doesn’t tell me that they wish they still had more to do with the arts. They wish they had continued with piano lessons, that they could write their wonderful idea for a book, or that they still had painting supplies.

And to that I say, yes keep pursuing creativity, keep creating, keep enjoying art.

But I do have a warning.

Sometimes in these conversations, there is an undertone of longing. Longing to be creating all the time, to throw out the rest of the timetable and have days full of those favourite subjects. To pursue professional creativity.

And to that I say, please remember that art is work.

I also want to say it to artists; sometimes your work is hard. Just because it’s something you’re passionate about doesn’t mean that it won’t break you sometimes.

Many artists have a secret longing for a boring day job. One of my composition tutors actually really wanted to work in a corner shop. His reasoning was that he would actually have more creative energy when he wanted it, rather than having to push himself to find more energy than he felt he had. One of the most successful composers in Australia, and he wished he was selling milk and composing on the side.

The point is that the grass is always greener on the other side.

So what do we say, then?

Before you begin a new art project, particularly if it is your first, be truly kind to yourself. I promise that it will take more from you than you might ever realise it would.

And for the artists out there, remember to actually rest. We love what we do, yes, but we are tired.

Loving something doesn’t take away its difficulties.

Art is work, too.

Jena Ren / Jenny Guilford – 2021

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