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Artists: Creating art is (or should be) your reality

by Brian Sherwin on 6/9/2012 1:36:48 PM

This article is by Brian Sherwin, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Brian Sherwin is an art critic, blogger, curator, artist and writer based near Chicago, Illinois. He has been published in Hi Fructose Magazine, Illinois Times, and other publications, and linked to by publications such as The Huffington Post, The Boston Globe, Juxtapoz Magazine, Deutsche Bank ArtMag, ARTLURKER, Myartspace, Blabbermouth, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Conservative Punk, Modern Art Obsession, Citizen LA, Shark Forum, Two Coats of Paint, Vandalog, COMPANY, artnet, WorldNetDaily (WND) and Art Fag City. If you want your blog posts listed in the FineArtViews newsletter with the possibility of being republished to our 19,000+ subscribers, consider blogging with FASO Artist Websites.  Disclaimer: This author's views are entirely his/her own and may not reflect the views of BoldBrush, Inc.. You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

An artist recently stated that he spent 5 hours on a portrait study -- time that he described as, "Way too long". It was almost as if he was trying to convince himself that the hours spent in his studio were justified. I was quick to note that it is better to spend hours in the studio than hours doing what the average adult does with the same length of time. The discussion served as a reminder that creating art is (or should be) the reality of an artist.


Adults, in general, waste a lot of time today on trivial pursuits -- keeping up on Reality TV, clicking away on time-consuming social network games (Yoville, Mob Wars, FrontierVille... etc.), being glued to the commercialized dreams of others instead of focusing on their own. The irony being that it is not uncommon to hear/read people complain about 'not having enough time in the day'. (Note: That is one of the most common excuses I come across in regard to why some artists focus little time on art marketing efforts).


I'll offer some numbers:


* The average American adult spends more than 4 hours each day watching television. One study suggested that the average person spends the equivalent of 9 years watching TV by the age of 65.


* As for Internet usage -- a 2009 poll suggested that the average Internet user spends 13 hours each week online... not including email use or work related tasks.


* A researcher friend of mine made it clear that the average Internet user will spend the equivalent of 3 to 4 non-productive years online within his or her lifetime. Again, that is the average Internet user -- those addicted to online entertainment will lose far more time.


With the above information in mind, it is safe to say that many of us will throw the equivalent of 12+ years away. All of those hours add up as the years go by -- and the end result is devastating if you think about it... especially if you happen to be an artist. It is a waste of time. That is a lot of artwork that will never be created time-wise, artistic mastery that will not be achieved, AND art exhibits that could have happened had the artist been more focused.


I know I have mentioned these problems before -- so has Jack White and number of other FineArtViews regulars. We can't stress it enough: don't waste your time, talent, OR the visual gift that you can share with others. As Clint Watson, the founder of FASO, states -- "Sharing art enriches life.". Enrich your life. Enrich the lives of others. Make art your reality -- live it... really live it. You have a mission to accomplish... and you won't succeed if you spend your life enthralled by casual entertainment.


In closing, we have become a society that embraces non-productive lifestyles. Casual entertainment has become something more than casual -- it has become a way of life for millions of people. It is sad when pursuing something other than casual entertainment is viewed as being radical. That said, be a radical -- go against the grain of popular culture. Turn off the TV... step away from the computer if you are not being productive -- return to your studio space. Create, create, create. You don't need reality TV OR a virtual farm -- art is (or should be) your reality. Live it.


Take care, Stay true,


Brian Sherwin

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Backstory: About Clint. Email EditorTwitter. Republish. ]

Related Posts:

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Be an Artist: Donít Settle for the Status Quo

Topics: advice for artists | Brian Sherwin | Clint Watson | FineArtViews | inspiration | Instruction | Jack White | Think Tank 

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Teresa Tromp
"being glued to the commercialized dreams of others instead of focusing on their own."

So true, Brian.

This was a harsh reality for me. I realized that I was helping people live their dreams, while I was not paying attention to my dream.

I believe you wrote this article as a "tough love" lesson for us artists, and I appreciate it Dad!

Great article, Brian! I'm astonished at how much time people spend watching TV.

Imagine a Martian visiting this planet:
Martian: What is this box thing you watch every day?
Human: A television.
Martian: How does it benefit you and improve your life?
Human: Ummmm ....

I know of households where the TV is on permanently. How can they have a life? Yes, I am completely out of touch when someone says "What do you think about what's going on in [insert soap opera]?" I have no idea what they are talking about.

As you say Brian, there are too many distractions these days and we shouldn't fall into their traps.

When hurricane Wilma hit South Florida several years ago, we were without running water for (I think) five days and without electricity for ten days.

It makes me wonder how many people could survive happily without TV and the internet for ten days.

David Mahlow
Very true. I can't stand unproductivity!

Brian Sherwin
Teresa -- Thank you. Tough love is good love. :)

Jackie -- Art critic Mark Staff Brandl said the following on Facebook in regard to this article, "Let's see, and the portrait Leonardo did now called Mona Lisa, La Gioconda, took about 4 years intensive, and then off and on for about 15 years after that."

Who knows how many masterpieces 'could have been' had artists of today not been distracted.

What an excellent point, Brian. And Leonardo knew very well that in the future we would have all sort of labor-saving devices and so - in theory - we should have much more time nowadays!

I know that you posted some statistics above but I wonder what other people would say is their greatest time waster.

Brian Sherwin
Jackie -- the sports addicts may not want to 'go there'. ;p I suppose that opens up a can of worms though... is it a 'waste of time' if you are passionate about it? Same goes for reality tv... I know people who are extremely passionate about specific shows. But then... that brings up the issue of conflicts of passion. How many lovers can you have before art slips away? LOL

Haha Brian. That was a wake-up call (sport I mean!)

I'm not a sports fan ... except for Formula One. When qualifying is happening on Saturdays and the race is being shown on Sundays, it would take a tornado to tear me from the TV screen.

Point well taken :)

Oh, how I hate to hear that. I am a TV/Netflix drama/documentary addict. I do feel guilt over it, and I confess as often as possible, hoping to purge the guilt.

When I acquired a DVR, however, I found a better method to assuage my guilt. I keep a sketchpad, pencils and eraser nearby. It adds about an hour to my viewing time, but on a good night I will have two well-developed drawings at the end. I wait until something on the screen catches my artist's eye, pause the program, work on my drawing as long as necessary, and then resume the program or go to bed, depending on the hour. None of it will end up in a museum, but it's great practice that I would not be getting if I were reading a book.

Now when I sit down to watch TV, I am looking forward more to the drawing activity than to the TV watching non activity.

Charlotte Herczfeld
Brian, great reminder, there is a lot of time to be gained.

My total tv time per week is one or two hours, max. Why I even have a dumb-box, I don't know...

For me, it took about 3 weeks to wean myself off the telly. And I don't even miss it now. I have a painting to paint, or a book to read.

Internet is worse: Keep up with Fine Art Views and other blogs, my website, my society's site and forum, search for good painting advice, look up the history of the traditional images I'm contracted to paint, read news, and keep up with friends. It does amount to many hours I don't even dare to count. But most of that activity is art-related. And I adamantly refuse to twitter. Log into Facebook about once per week.

The best is that I rule my time. I *may* watch a programme via the computer, as then I can start/stop it whenever I want.


Lisa Manners
Thank you, Brian
All too true. I unplugged my television set two years ago and it freed up time to paint as well as to read. I don't miss it at all.

And I'm so glad I don't have a smart phone--I can't obsess over emails or facebook messages the second they come in. I leave Internet to a quick check on world news and important messages in the morning, although I do use Internet throughout the day for important tasks I would otherwise have to drive somewhere to complete.

Diana Moses Botkin
Right on.

Thanks for the kick in the pants reminder. I enjoy some down time as much as anyone after a hard day (and have friends and family in the entertainment business) but we do try at our house to stay away from the "bread and circuses" lifestyle of our modern culture.

I especially appreciate your admonition to be true to our creative gifts. There are many activities I could do... good and honorable tasks... but I know I must do what only I can do if I am an artist.

Marilyn Rose
I had a different take on the idea of spending too much time on a study. I wonder if the artist who thought five hours was "way too long" is one who thinks fast and fresh is the only way to go, rather than sometimes being slow and meticulous (the dreaded "overworking"). That artist should watch a Morgan Weistling or Kathryn Stats DVD.
There's something to be said about the calming effect of the meditative state in painting. We don't always have to be sprinters - a leisurely stroll is a real treat.

jack white

For years I didn't even have a phone in my studio. I had one in my office that took messages. It was on silent during the day. We have found cell phones too invasive for us. We tried one a few years ago. I would never get a book written if I spent as much time on the phone as some I know.

You know how difficult it is to write with distractions. I'm working on book 11 and it's all new ground for me. I'm dealing with Texas after the Civil War.

In my research last night I found out only 5 men have served as a Republican Governor of Texas. One was elected two times. We have had 39 Democrat Governors. Yet everyone thinks of us as a solid red state. Things like that doesn't happen if I'm on the phone or glued to the television.

I do watch Fox News at night while I'm doing book research.

You are so right, art is a jealous lover. She requires a lot of time.


I help a lot of artists and my biggest complaint is they all tend to think faster is better. What matters in the end is the finished product.


David Ralston
Fantastic read as always Brian, enjoy your post's and view of things. Will say that not all things are bad and is very OMG educational if used properly, but the key is moderation naturally as with any stimulation Tv, etc. Reality and purpose go hand in hand, if we dont accept art as our reality and purpose for bein here then our creator wasted the special gift we have been so bestowed with. We all have a calling and should use our art for the enrichment of lives and the better of other as well, not just for selfish reasons. As I was reminded today by my heart, when my friend asked me to do a painting for a fundraiser for her nephew with Leukemia. Which I have done for another cause as well, not to boast just saying. As intuned beings to a different view of things we should be using our blessed gifts for the better of others when the chance arises. Even though some disagree for many reasons I'm sure, but is a gift givin to us can also be takin away unexpectedly at anytime. Peace and blessings to all.

Bettye Rivers
Brian, I really set up and took notice as I read your article. I couldn't help but chuckle a little bit too. My studio is in a building with a number of other art studios. I normally spend time on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday there. As a rule, I don't see but two or three artist there on weekends. Today as I was leaving I stopped to say goodbye to a fellow artist who is usually there late and on weekends. He said to me, "I think you and I must be the only two artist here that don't have a social life!" Thanks for all the fine advise you share.

Brian Sherwin
Charlotte -- I had to cut TV addiction cold-turkey when I entered college. I could not afford cable in my dorm room... and by the time they offered it for free (I should say, by the time they increased tuition and offered it for 'free')-- I had no interest in being glued to the tube.

I'm glad I was not the typical college-aged 'TV casualty'.I spent more time reading, exploring and debating. I continued that after college. I may not know who the celebrities are dating -- but I can tell you about Machiavelli. :)

Brian Sherwin
Jack -- I'm not 'big' on cell phones either. Texting can easily become an addiction. When I receive a call or text I know that it is important (for the most part) -- I don't give my number out left-and-right.

These comments remind me... you know how some people feel that pursuing art is a 'waste of time'. I'm certain we have all heard that at some point. Well... think of the time people waste -- really waste -- on a daily basis. I just think it is important for people to consider time and how they use it. We are not in this world long. Use the time wisely. Don't waste life.

Brian Sherwin
Bettye -- Thank you. I'd suggest that you two are living. Your legacy won't be defined by the texts you left behind. :)

David -- Thanks for sharing your insight. The way I see it... we all have something that calls to us -- we all have something we can be good at and share with others. I know people who say, "I'm not good at anything."... and it make me wonder just how much time they have spent exploring who they are. I fear that many people spend their life bombarded with distractions that keep them from really exploring who they are -- and what they can do.

jack white
When you grow older you realize everyday is special. I try not to waste even one second. When I was 40 I thought I had all the time in the world. Now at 80 I'm aware time is indeed short. Even if I love to be 100, I've only got 20 years left.

I call it chasing rabbits when people waste time. I can remember raccoon hunting as a 12 year old kid. We hunted at night and depended on the dogs to smell and track the animals. We had one coon dog that followed rabbit odor. He was worthless as a hunter. I need to do an article on chasing rabbits.

Before some member of PETA gets on me. We needed the money from the pelts to buy food. I never got any of the money, because my uncle used what we made to augment his grocery money.


Thumbs up on this one. I also hate cell phones. I used to walk with a group of ladies in the morning but one of them had a cell phone stuck on her ear. I decieded that they were wasting my time so I bowed out with the polite excuse that I wanted to run, I knew they would not be interested in that. So now I run 5-10 miles a day and it is such a pleasant way to start my day.

Brian Sherwin
Delilah -- That frustrates me as well... when you spend time with someone who has a cell phone 'glued' to their ear. HELLO I'm visiting YOU... LOL

I love my cellphone but everyone knows that I never answer it except to my family. But they know that they can text. A text doesn't disturb me as I can answer it when I please.

The reason I don't like to speak to people on the phone is that, because of cellphones, you never know what they are doing when they are talking to you! When phones were fixed to the wall by a wire, it was a different matter.

Nowadays, I know people who take their cellphones into the bathroom! Sorry, but I don't want to talk to anyone who is .... you know....

Donna Robillard
One thing I have discovered is that cellphone, Facebook, the internet, or what have you, can master us or we can be in control of how we use them.

Nothing can master us unless we let it.

I am reading `brave new Worl` by Huxley, and this article in a way complete it; we are conditioned and bombarded everything around us, manipulated and we may loose touch with our true self, and our creativity. I don`t have a TV anymore, I gave it away, TV is frakly useless. Still I find that my lesser self tries always to find distractions, anything that gets me away from discipline. Thank you for this article and encouragement. Rosario

Robert Lynch
Baja Artists Magazine has a large world wide audience and your Art and product will be seen by
interested Artists around the World GOOD LUCK

This is a request for you to visit and read the brief story about Daniel
the Article title “Daniel R. Lynch “ dated May 27 2013

It is further suggested that you Artists consider in adding your ART and story to Baja Artists Online
magazine. It 'FREE”Ě

And those of you that sell art supplies IE : Frames, Pint. Brushes ETC consider a small ad in Baja
Artists Online magazine. Contact : Attn: Andrew, It should be noted
that I'm NOT connected with Baja Artists Magazine, just a very satisfied Customer !

Brian Sherwin
Robert -- You are not doing Baja Artists Magazine any favors by spamming like this. Just saying. Your comment may have been useful on other FAV articles that focus specifically on opportunities for artists. That said, your comment has little to do with this article. If I'm wrong... feel free to explain -- place your promotion for this magazine in context if you wish.

jack white

I ditto your statement. I looked at Roberts article and its titled RIP. This would be news if he is writing from the grave.



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