July 10,2012
The Struggle of the Artist

We often hear the phrases "the struggle of the artist," "the struggling artist," or "the starving artist." What do they mean? And why are the words "struggling" or "starving" attached to the artist and not the teacher, the fireman, the business person? It is as if it makes the artist more noble if he or she struggles or starves.

I checked out Wikipedia to see the source of this description. Here's what it said:

"A starving artist is an artist who sacrifices material well-being in order to focus on their artwork. They typically live on minimum expenses, either for a lack of business or because all their disposable income goes toward art projects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starving_artist , retrieved July 10, 2012)."

"Some starving artists desire mainstream success but have difficulty due to the high barriers to entry in art such as visual arts, the film industry, and theatre. These artists frequently take temporary positions (such as waitering or other service industry jobs) while they focus their attention on breaking through in their preferred field (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starving_artist , retrieved July 10, 2012)."

I then checked the dictionary definition of "struggle:"

"1. To contend with an adversary or opposing force;
2. To contend resolutely with a task, problem, etc.; strive: to struggle for existence;
3. To advance with violent effort: to struggle through the snow (www.dictionary.com , retrieved July 10, 2012)."

Isn't that disturbing?

What is the struggle for the artist? Is it for money? For inspiration? For time? For acceptance? I sometimes think the struggle is to find storage space for all of those paintings that haven't yet found their homes.

All of us are artists at heart … we may not all express ourselves through the arts, but at some level, all of us are creators wanting to express our authentic selves. Perhaps that is the true struggle…working and growing toward expressing our authentic selves and being the best we can be. However, do we want to look at it as "contending with an adversary or opposing force," or "striving to struggle for existence?" This seems extreme, although I believe that we do not really live if we don't express our true selves, so perhaps it is a matter of life and death. Maybe a gentler word than "struggling" would be more positive … something like "the transformation of the artist's soul," perhaps?

Commitment To Our Art (By Linda Coons)

"To bring our art to full expression, there is much more involved than simply envisioning or imagining it. To imagine our art in its completed state is merely one of many, sometimes complex, steps, perhaps the beginning of which is becoming open to the idea (Coons, p. 159)."

"Many artists find that in bringing our art to full expression, we need to become committed to its evolvement. We need to make necessary investments of time, energy, sometimes money, sometimes other things. We need to make spiritual commitments. We need to believe in our souls that we are capable. We become open to guidance by our Higher Power to complete our endeavors. We establish priorities that will encourage us to fulfill our commitment to our art (Coons, p. 159)."

"We may also need to learn to be patient with the process of our artistic expression. Commitment does not imply that we rush to completion at the expense of doing our best work. We remember that our art evolves in God's time, not ours. When we learn to trust in God's timing, many artists learn, our work evolves peacefully (Coons, p. 159)."


"God, please guide me to accept my honest wants and needs as a realistic part of who I am. Teach me to ask for what I want from those around me and by prayer and meditation, trusting in your way and time. Then grant me the patience to wait for my life and my art to unfold according to your will for me (Coons, p. 95)."


Coons, Linda, (2000). "The Artist's Soul: Daily Nourishment to Support Creative Growth," Jeremy P. Tarcher/Putnam, New York, pps. 95 and 159.

www.dictionary.com , retrieved July 10, 2012.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starving_artist , retrieved July 10, 2012.

© Carla Weaver 2012

Posted by Carla Weaver at 12:40


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