Sunday, June 29, 2014

Are We Having Fun Yet?

During a recent conversation I was asked a question that I wasn't quite sure how to answer.  "Are you still having fun", she asked, "or has your art become just a job now?"

c2014 Patricia Scarborough  Labor and Plenty  22x28 oil

Does anyone ever ask their grocer, dentist or plumber if they are having fun at work?  
"How’s the accounting business? Still fun? Or has it become just another column of numbers?"

For some reason it seems that the result of all creative activity is supposed to be “fun!” As in, the final product should bring delight and happiness and enhance the furniture. Or sit on a shelf and attract attention. Or be cute and induce smiles and satisfaction, like a home-made rocking horse or patio planter.

If it doesn’t engender a smile; if the final product is thoughtful, or a challenge, or discordant somehow, or maybe there’s a little whining that goes along with it, a problem has arisen, now…well, now it’s just a job.

(As if having a job creating things is unfortunate.)

Here’s what I wish I had said:

“Fun is what I have when I’m hanging out with friends and family. As far as my studio work, I am challenged and frustrated and delighted and I can hardly wait to get to work every morning. I am successful just often enough to think I can work out to a satisfying conclusion the problems I’ve set for myself. I am frustrated with my inadequacies and stunned at my (occasional) brilliance. There are elements of my day that I find less than thrilling, like picking titles and prices and keeping records. I'm sure all jobs have that same problem. Yet when I squeeze tubes of paint into piles on my palette, or set out my pastel boxes, my heart quickens and I feel a satisfaction deep in my bones that tells me I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
So, yeah, I'm having fun and I've got a job. And I'm having fun at my job. Thanks for asking.
See the results of my efforts, and the efforts of fellow artists Sharon Ohmberger, Karen Krull Robart, Tom Quest, Susan Hart and many others at The Burkholder Project in Lincoln, Ne. beginning July 2nd through July 31st.  Come say hellow at our opening reception, Friday July 11 from 7 - 9 pm.