Art is one of those things I do where I feel like I'm "in my element". A space where I connect my talents and my passions. A space where I feel I can be "me". I love the opportunity to observe and engage in life, rather than let it pass me by. To be curious. To hunt and gather inspiration. Back in the studio, I get to ponder. To absorb. To analyze. To experiment. To play. Sometimes I even prefer the creative process to the end result.
That's not to say it's all fun though. Not so long ago I was in a conversation about my work and someone remarked, "Oh, I'd just love to paint pretty pictures all day". The statement showed complete ignorance of what kind of work I do (I don't think I paint "pretty pictures" as such) together with a lack of understanding of what working as an artist involves. It can be seriously hard work! There are days when I can't even get started. Or when my various ideas fall flat. The processes of finding focus and of discovery can be frustrating, especially when I have too much else going on, and can't get in the right 'headspace' to relax and enjoy it. Then there's the pressures of working alone, without company nor accountability. The weight of self-discipline. The need to spend time away from the creative process and to keep the administrative wheels turning; the marketing, the business side of creativity.
There are many careers out there with similar pressures. But likewise similar levels of fulfillment. In the end, so long as I have an inquisitive mind, I will ask questions and experiment. So long as I never stop learning from my mistakes and successes, and enjoy that process of discovery. So long as my art gives not only me joy but also others, and gives them a window through which to see life - perhaps a way of seeing it differently, or simply a way of engaging their emotions - then I know it was all worth while.