I've been on Twitter for several months now and something I've noticed is that occasionally little "themes" will float their way through my Twitter stream. I follow a lot of artists on Twitter, and today there was a strong theme among the artists about ways that their endeavors are not supported by coworkers, friends, and especially family.
So I started thinking about ways I do and don't feel supported as an artist, and ways that I work to create support when I don't think I have enough. I'm very fortunate to have a partner who supports my work. Lynn can tell when I need studio time, and she'll often say on a Saturday morning, "why don't you go in the studio and print for a while" when I know that she'd rather have us do some house stuff together. I guess she's decided that I'm more fun to be with when I'm happy with my work. She also has begun to enjoy the "artist's wife" role, especially the opportunity to travel with me to openings and such. (We're looking forward to a trip to NY in a couple of days.)
And then there's my mother. That's her in the photo, sitting in the back seat of a huge tow truck the day she and I got stranded in Vermont in the pouring rain after her car broke down out in the middle of nowhere when we were on our way to a family reunion, which we never made it to. She's 83 years old, and still as curious about the world as she was when I first met her 50 years ago.
I can't say that she and my father took to the artist thing right away. Let's face it, freelancing isn't the most secure thing a parent can imagine for their child, and fine art is even worse. But over the years they could see that I loved it, that I was doing OK at it, and that they didn't have to send me money, so they started to relax. My dad died before I started doing printmaking, but my mother has been amazingly and beautifully supportive. She reads my blog (hi mom!), she thinks deeply about my work and makes wonderful comments about it, and now she does send me money sometimes, like when I'm headed to NY or Seattle for an opening. I know how lucky I am to have her support.
I've also come to realize how important it is to have friends who are artists. I've certainly made some wonderful virtual friends on the internet and through this blog. I think a lot of artists make those contacts in art school, but seeing as how I never went to art school and never had many artist friends, I've started to look for those relationships locally. I've discovered a whole network of printmakers affiliated with local Zea Mays Printmaking, I have a small illustrators group with Kim Rosen and Daniel Guidera, I've forged a friendship with Peter Pettengill of Wingate Studio in New Hampshire, and just today I met local artist Ariel Kotker, a sculptor who is creating a "walk-in novella" from thin air. She came here for a studio visit, which I'll reciprocate in November, and we had a great time talking as if we already knew each other.
And then there are my long-time friends who aren't necessarily artists but who are willing to let me rattle on about my latest series or my conflicts between making art and selling art -- letting me "shop talk" even though it may not be their kind of shop. I know that they're rooting for me, too.
Making art is wonderful, and it's hard sometimes, and it can be lonely. I'm cherishing the people who hold me up, who hold me accountable, and who hold my hand. Thanks, my friends.