I wish I could remember the first time that I was brave enough to say that I was an artist. I called myself a painter for several years before finally deciding that I somehow had the qualifications to advance my status to “artist.” It’s such a strange transition that I remember wondering if anyone was going to call me on it. Like maybe there were secret art police that would show up at my door to tell me that I was using the term without proper authorization.

I recently read “Man with a Blue Scarf” by Martin Gayford which describes Martin’s experience sitting for a portrait by the late Lucian Freud. Martin gives accounts of the conversations between him and Lucian during the seven months of sitting for the painting. It’s a fascinating glimpse into Lucian’s thought process, opinions and insights. My favorite quote from the book is a beautiful description of the life of an artist. If ever there were to be an oath required to cross the threshold into artist status, this quote should be it.

‘I always thought’, says LF, ‘that an artist’s was the hardest life of all’. Its rigour – not always apparent to an outside observer – is that an artist has to navigate forward into the unknown guided only by an internal sense of direction, keep up a set of standards which are imposed entirely from within, meanwhile maintaining faith that the task he or she has set him or herself is worth struggling constantly to achieve. This is all contrary to the notion of bohemian disorder.   -Man with a Blue Scarf, p. 130

 

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