Artists Tip #15 – The truth behind the struggle

vintage bead handpainted by artist Jessica Doyle

The truth behind the struggle

You hear people speak of the struggling artist. It’s almost a romantic notion to have that said to you or about you if you are in fact an artist. I hate that notion. You never hear of a struggling physician or a struggling carpenter. Only artist’s seem worthy of such a negative, yes NEGATIVE, connotation attached to their trade of choice. And it is even their trade of choice?

I don’t believe you have a choice when passion is involved and more importantly love. I do believe that if you continue to work hard and stay on track you will not be a struggling artist forever. You will be respected by your peers and more importantly by the public who need to support you both spiritually and financially if you are to succeed in todays world.

Success for an artist is not always about money. Success can arrive after years of trial and error painting that line, mixed perfect pink and thrust to the canvass and witnessing that, you finally did it! That pretty pink line is sublime, resembling the plump breast it encircles. Success is relative to the artist as is money, situation, time and effort put into the creation of art. The struggle is in creation.

That struggle can near kill you at times. It killed me. It did. It drives you mad. You can’t keep up with fingers. No, your fingers can’t keep up with your mind.

In college during one of many Creative Process classes the instructor handed out two sheets of stapled together paper. Written along the top were the words The Koan of Creativity.

Lawrence G. Bolt writes,

Often labour pains are associated with the body-building process. This is why the lives of creative artists sometimes take on a tragic quality. Until they have the idea set free, they hang suspended, as if it were, between two worlds (the idea realm of the creative vision and the physical world of manifestation).

That my friends is the struggle.

He continues on within the same paragraph,

Saturation in the creative vision may cause them to neglect other areas of their lives. The artist lives for the work even more than himself.

The artist lives for everything else but herself. When we fall in love it is with our whole being. When we feel sadness we ebb on the verge of desperation. When we are angry there is something truly to be furious about. We are honest. We do not trick people. We are the most sensitive people on earth yet the least likely to be respected within our own professions.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer writes,

Doing creative work is a lot like giving birth. And producing a healthy baby (good book, painting, sculpture, song, film, etc.) is possible only if we have engaged in the process that makes conception possible in the first place.

I urge you to read, look at, listen to and enjoy your artist friends creations. Ask them why and how they created that painting or wrote that poem. Complement only if you feel you want to for a false statement will never be forgotten by an artist. You will become lowly fodder. And if you are so inclined, buy their book or purchase that painting. You will be supporting an individual not a multi-national corporation.

And so, the glorious struggle moves on… until next week.

1. Excerpt from Zen and the Art of Making a Living by Lawrence G. Boldt, pg. 141.,
2. Excerpt from What We Ache For by Oriah Mountain Dreamer, pg. 42.,

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16 thoughts on “Artists Tip #15 – The truth behind the struggle”

  1. Hi Jessica! I wandered over here from your flickr profile. Wonderful write up on the terrifying process we put ourselves through. It’s such a blast, isn’t it? đŸ˜‰ Always look forward to seeing more of your work! I’ll be sure to frequent your blog now.

  2. Always having more ideas than time, money or ability can get down is hard. I am always trying to please myself with what I do… sometimes I’m successful. I never liked the notion of struggling / starving artist either… its probably yet another excuse wandering in the back of my head, as to why it takes months to get a 10×10 painting done. I always find other things that need doing.

  3. Phew !!! My Tech Support job gives me enough money to save for the NEXT phase of struggle that shall start next year!

    Then I shall come back to this one.

    However, daily telling oneself that the Year is NEXT is a struggle in itself…


    P.S. FOr the last 3 days my Blood Pressure is at a constant 150/110 .However,if I DO die, someone else will produce this aforementioned movie, I am sure of it! Take care, Y’all…

  4. RGP – terrifying indeed and i wouldn’t have it any other way. It can be exhilarating at times. Thanks for coming by to say hi. I’m off to see your blog now.

  5. Brain – We’ll always find other things that are more important, more necessary, more more more. I’m finding though you need to make it a habit. A BAD habit.

    Brian finish that 10″ by 10″ painting and post it to Flickr. You’ll feel relief and happiness afterwards that you set out and finished it. Then again it may be one of those art pieces that takes years to complete.

  6. Rahul… Good luck with your endeavors.

    Please refrain from placing more than one relevant link in your comments on my blog. This is fair warning. ok?


    You need to relax to get your blood pressure down. Breathing is good for that.

    Breath in thru your nose for a count of 4 or 5
    then out thru your mouth for a count of 3 or 4.

  7. Jessica,

    Thanks for the good wishes.

    Very FAIR!!! I shall refrain from placing links on your blog, relevant or otherwise. Whatsoever I may think to be so!!! :-)

    I know. I need to relax.

    Breathing ??? I am sure that is a new one that I heard. I shall try that from today onwards…

    Thanks and Sorry.


  8. Rahul, I reacted badly to you in my above comment. I am sorry to.

    I was having a bad day the other day.

    Please do try to relax by doing breathing exercises or doing something physical like going for an invigorating walk!

  9. Hello Jessica,

    Please do not apologize! It is normal to vent out, no matter what the medium is. Hope your days are good now.

    Yes, I have started taking medication and invigorating walks!




  10. Excellent post Jessica. A friend of mine is in the midst of writing a book write now. A process she has been dreaming about and planning for since high school and now in the midst of finishing her masters degree the urge and need to write finally over took her. This seems to others as bad timing as it consumes most of her time and energy when she should be concentrating on other things. But to her and I it seems like the best and only use of her time and energy. It’s a hard thing to explain to people who don’t understand.

  11. Sometimes what we do when we procrastinate indeed leads to fulfillment.

    Good luck to your friend… I hope her passion continues to lead her through life Andrew :)

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