July 29, 2016
10 Reasons I Love Being An Artist
by Corrina Thurston
As you’ve read in my other blog posts, being an artist is never something I imagined for myself. I was in college for Biology and Anthropology. Art wasn’t even on my radar.
After becoming chronically ill, however, everything in my life changed. I was forced to adapt.
Artwork was one of my biggest adaptations. My migraines and fatigue were so bad that I could barely walk or read or function at all. So one day I picked up a pencil and began to draw from the confines of my bed.
I taught myself to draw as a therapy for myself, to give myself something to do that was productive. Now, as I’ve started getting healthier, I’m turning it into a full-time business, and I love it. Yes, there are frustrating parts about an artist’s career, just like any career, but here are 10 reasons that outweigh all the rest.
1.) I can work from home.
Being sick, I can’t go out and drive to work everyday like a normal person. Some days I would be able to, but other days I’m in bed. The hardest part is that I never know from day to day how I’m going to feel. I don’t even know from hour to hour how I’m going to feel because it can change in an instant.
Working from home allows me to get the rest I need, when I need it. It allows me to work extra hours on my good days without being away from my partner in the evenings. On a day when my fatigue is acting up, I can work on the couch. On better days, I’ll work in my studio.
Working from home also allows me a certain comfort level I wouldn’t get if I worked elsewhere. At home I can wear pajamas if I want to. I can take a 15 minute tea break and sit on my deck in the sunshine. I can take a lunch break and go for a walk through the woods to get my blood pumping and my mind focused, if I have the energy.
2.) I’m my own boss.
Similar to working from home, being my own boss means I can let myself have the rest I need, take the breaks I need, and continue to have my path to health be my number one priority.
Being my own boss also means I don’t have anyone looking over my shoulder. I don’t have to do anything on anyone else’s schedule, or to their liking.
The best part, and the most nerve-wracking part, is that I have control. Everything is on me. At times, this is a burden and I’d love to be able to turn to someone and ask them what I should do next, what would be best. In the end, however, I like having the autonomy and the responsibility of my business. All decisions are made by me. I research and read and ask advice, and then I make a plan and put it into action.
3.) Interacting with people who love my artwork.
I’m admittedly a bit of an introvert. It takes a lot of effort for me to put myself out there and be social with people, but I have found that it is always a rewarding experience.
I had no idea how people would react to my artwork when I first started making it. I had never taken an art class, I didn’t know anything about being an artist. It took me years before I admitted I might actually BE an artist.
So when I first started hearing what people had to say about my work, I was pleasantly surprised to say the least.
To hear people praise my work, to hear their fascination with my process, their curiosity about my story, and see the shock on their faces when they learned my artwork was in colored pencil, was overwhelming.
Talking with my clients and people who have come to see my work at exhibits has been enlightening. Everyone has their own views about my artwork, and it’s rejuvenating to hear when someone finds it beautiful, or finds me inspiring.
4.) Both sides of my brain are put to work.
Unlike a lot of artists, I’m both right-brained and left-brained. This means I am a student of both creativity and logic.
With artwork, the right side of my brain is put to use the most. Drawing and any artistic endeavor is typically a right brain action, which is why those who are heavily left-brained, have trouble with it.
The business side of being an artist entrepreneur relies more heavily on the left side of my brain.
Most artists dread the business side of their art, but without it, one will forever be either a ‘starving artist’ or a hobbyist. I want my artwork to be a full-time business, which is why I spend over half my time not drawing, but marketing, writing, researching, sending proposals, networking, going over finances, etc.
There are certainly parts of my art business that I dread, just like there are usually parts of a drawing that I dread. But I love the fact that I can put both sides of my brain to work and I can choose which type of task to do each day.
5.) Seeing my artwork on display or published.
I love seeing my artwork on display or published. Whether it’s in a gallery, in a restaurant, in a magazine, or just on my own studio walls, it’s a constant reminder of what I have accomplished. Each piece of artwork I’ve done has been a challenge. Seeing them on the walls is proof that I overcame each and every one of those challenges and that I’ve been productive despite my illnesses.
Sometimes I feel like the last 8 years that I’ve been sick have been a dream. It feels like none of it has been real. Then I look up at my walls and the artwork hanging there and I know it’s real. I did that. I created something beautiful out of the misery that was my life at the time.
6.) Artists are cool.
I’ve met some amazing and crazy people since I became an artist, and most of them have been artists themselves.
Artists are some of the most interesting, unique, crazy, uncomfortable, conflicted, insecure, amazing, and inspirational people I have ever met.
There tend to be two reactions when I tell people I’m an artist. A person either asks me what I do for my ‘real’ job, or they’re fascinated by the fact that I’m an artist. The latter reaction happens more often.
People are fascinated by artists. We’re mysterious. We’re strange. We live a life that is different from the average person.
Below is one of my favorite quotes about artists:
7.) I can see my progress.
An artist always strives to get better, to push the limits of what they can accomplish with their craft. I’ve been lucky in that my skills came to me rather suddenly and progressed quickly.
Continued progression is hard work. It’s frustrating, it’s challenging, and it takes a certain determination to constantly push yourself to be better.
The amount of progression or the quickness with which someone learns is different for everyone. I’ve been told many times that I am too modest, but I can say that I was blessed with the gift to learn certain things quickly.
I’ve only created one drawing that I truly hated and will never show anyone. Therefore, even my earliest drawings were good enough to me where I still show them in displays.
However, it’s the progression that excites me. In the six years since I began drawing, my skill has progressed remarkably and as an artist, that feeds into each and every drawing I do.
8.) I see beauty every day.
I look out my window and I see trees. I see the neighbor’s dog running around their yard. I see the wild bunnies hiding in our yard. And I see a blue sky full of fluffy white clouds.
Inside, I have my artwork, artwork I’ve bought or that has been given to me, hand-crafted blankets, antique furniture, souvenirs from around the world, etc.
In my life, I strive to surround myself with beauty. With my artwork, I not only strive to surround myself with images I love, but share them with others and hopefully help brighten their houses, apartments, and offices too.
Artists start out making artwork for themselves, it’s how their passion is ignited. But it’s when the world takes interest and shares their love for beauty and for what they’ve worked so hard to create, that an artist truly comes alive.
Being an artist has opened me up to be able to see beauty in everything.
9.) I get to help people.
Whether someone is trying to decorate their home, or they want to learn how to draw, or they are having a rough time and need inspiration, I help.
This was something that came out of my artwork and business organically, and it wasn’t something I thought would happen. Especially the part about providing inspiration.
It makes sense that I can help someone decorate their home with my artwork. It makes sense that I can teach people my techniques with colored pencil and graphite (and online classes are in the process of being made so keep an eye out!). But inspiring people?
People who like the type of artwork I do find it alluring. But it’s my story and how I began drawing, which you can read about here, that they find fascinating. Countless people have told me that I’ve inspired them, which is humbling. I’m now being asked to give talks about how I started drawing and what it’s been like.
Hopefully I’ll keep inspiring more and more people.
10.) I get to help animals.
I’m passionate about animals, animal welfare, and wildlife conservation. Recently, I’ve gotten to the point in my business where I can start using my artwork to support these causes.
For certain drawings, I choose an organization to help bring awareness, and I donate a percentage of the proceeds from that drawing to it. For example, my African Elephant shown above.
My African Elephant drawing is meant to bring awareness to the 96 ELEPHANTS campaign by the Wildlife Conservation Society. 96 Elephants are killed in Africa every day, and this campaign is trying to stop it. The drawing and the time-lapse video I made of the drawing are meant to bring awareness to the campaign. And any prints sold of the piece will have 20% of the proceeds donated to the campaign.
I’ve also donated the first metal print made of this drawing to the Memphis Zoo for their Art For Elephants event on August 14th, 2016.
I never thought I would be an artist. I never thought my illnesses could bring me anything but pain and misery. I never thought I would be an entrepreneur. I never thought that what I’ve been through and accomplished despite my limitations would inspire anyone else.
You never know what life is going to bring.
To me, the ability to adapt to one’s circumstances and try to make the best of any situation, is what defines success.