Thursday, April 9, 2009


As an artist from a family of non-artists, Catholic non-artists, with a liberal sprinkling of accountants, engineers, and housewives among the olive tree, I'm used to feeling somewhat guilty every time I'm around any of them. You're taking art? Don't you want to make money? Still not married? Don't you want kids like your sister? Sell any paintings today? No? Well, maybe tomorrow. Anything from the agency? No? Well, maybe tomorrow. Any word from Pixar? Well, maybe tomorrow. Not married yet?'s your sister and her kids? How many does she have now?

Fun times.

It's been raining the last three day and I've been guiltlessly living up to family fears by lounging around in my pajamas. That and eating lots of chocolate, surfing the internet, trying new recipes, talking on the phone, and dancing to club mixes on my Ipod. Oh, and doing some drawing, painting and writing too.

So it's unfortunate my family calls this doing nothing and I call it working. Thus, I avoid them when possible because the more nothing I do the more work I get done. To them work means going somewhere from nine to five. That's doing something. If one wants to stay home all day to do nothing one gets married and has kids. That's the way to do it. Then one can do as much nothing as one wants.

Work is worthwhile. Art, i. e. doing nothing, is not. Course, if I start selling work for $5000 or more, and so on, then...then I'll be one of the few who beat the odds because everyone knows artists don't make any money.

For me, being an artist is the greatest job in the world when I'm away from those whose seeming role is to make me feel guilty about being an artist. Even though I've learned to let most of what they say go in one ear and out the other. They're doing what families do, making sure their genetic material continues on as securely as possible. It's comforting, really. They're looking out for my future children.

Still, with the annual Easter reunion coming up, and single me not having gone to church in I don't know how long, on top of everything else, I'm thinking up excuses not to go. interview at Disney Studios Monday morning? Who knows? Maybe tomorrow it'll be true.


  1. great post Cheryl..
    good luck on Sunday..
    mona & the girls

  2. Seems you’ve learned to live with the pressures of family expectations without succumbing and conforming for the sake of quelling family concerns. It also seems your family loves you… but, do you ever fear ostracism on one or more levels? My parent’s expectations were similar, and it took more than a decade before I was established enough on my own path to be at peace with their expectations, feel (and show) unconditional love for them, and confidently follow my bliss. I empathize with your current job circumstances, and am thankful for your willingness to intelligently and articulately confess feelings during this uncertain time… very useful in helping me process my own challenges. I’m also confident that you’ll land on your feet and prosper joyfully.

  3. Family... whattya gonna do?

    I was raised Catholic, I don't attend church and I am married SANS children...with NO plans EVER, EVER, EVER of procreation.... horror of all horrors.

    I feel your pain. (grin)

    Their comments do come from love. They just don't happen to "get it". And they don't have to - long as you are following your own path and you are true to yourself, you are golden!

    Good luck! Eat lots o' chocolate for me!

  4. Cheryl,
    Lie through your teeth just to get some peace from all the critics.
    The philistines will never understand your way of life until you prove them wrong.

  5. Mona & the girls - Thank you! Hope you stop by again.

  6. SparkleMirror - I'm always so happy to see your responses. Thank you, it's great therapy actually. Writing helps me define my true thoughts and feelings, and seeing the responses helps me even more. It's also another place to channel my artistic energy. Instead of worrying I can write, sowing seeds for my future novels and so forth.

    I voluntarily ostracised myself a few years back when the pressure and criticism reached a peak. As a result, some I've drifted away from. Others, most notably my sister, I'm closer than ever to. But it was unbelievably painful at the time, days when I wanted to call them but couldn't if I ever wanted to be accepted for who I was.

    It goes both ways though, a few months back my sister told me she considered herself a religious conservative and I...kinda..blew up at her...Not nice. The great thing was we had gone to this restaurant for dinner, argued all throughout, but were still able to comment about the food, her kids, and other things, and then, when it was over and we had reached an understanding...acceptance. There's great comfort knowing I can disagree with someone so strongly and still feel loved and accepted. And visa versa. So in a way it was worth the troubles we've gone through. I used to fear disapproval but now I've learned the more I'm my true self, a self I'm willing to stand up for, the more genuine my relationships can be. Now, if only she could be here this Easter...

  7. Shanster - You too?!!! Yeah, I love them too. And when I do ever have kids, thank goodness, I know they'll always be willing, and free, babysitters. And it is kind of nice, now that the worst is over, being an artist who's had to overcome opposition. Great for my artist's bio.

    Will happily eat lots and lots of chocolate on your behalf!

  8. Keep moving along your path, Cheryl. All is well and all will be well. x

  9. Dedene - yeah, it'll be worth it for all that great food they always have, hee, hee.

    Though I have to say I'd much rather spend Easter where my sister is right now, Walt Disney World!!!!!

  10. Carol Anne - Thank you, it's always comforting to get encouragement from a kindred spirit. I will and trust all will be well. xo

  11. i loved your rendition of what it feels like to be an artist in an un-artistic family. I have two nieces that made art majors and the family has given them a hard time. So I remind them, everytime they see an artistic design whether on a commercial, clothing, car, etc. - some artist was involved. In this day and time - it will be the artist who survive and come out on top. We've got everything else, but we're hungry for art that feeds our souls. Hang in there!!

  12. Thanks Odd Chick! I heard the same thing from a PBS show that said it'll be artists and storytellers that will benefit from the emerging economy. Yeah!

  13. Interesting, but not really surprising, reading! I happen to know a few artists personally (painters, musicians), none of them commercially (yet) really succesful, but as I see it full of talents. Unfortunately my "patronage" resources are more than limited, but I like to meet them and I admire their courage!

    Maybe our modern life with a few selected "stars" with whom you will be compared, makes the artist "carreer" even tougher today... if you are not (yet) one of those "stars"? ... and to become a "star", you need not only talent, but also luck!

  14. Poor you! I'm a Scottish Catholic, which is rare in Calvinistic old Scotia, so I'm coming from a different perspective. As a writer and musician, my family were nothing but encouraging, probably because there were artists in the form my poet and architect cousin Paul and museum curator Peter. Also, we're a socialist family, with values that come from that political mindset. I feel sorry for you guys State-side that you never adopted that particular creed as my country has free universal health care as well as some State-sponsored public art, which is unheard of out your way. I've been over to NYC and I spent a couple of months in America, and though I loved the place and people, they were oft shocked I was still a socialist, equating that with the Soviet model, which it isn't. In fact one chap from Boston was repulsed by my socialist credentials, turning away from even talking to me! Anyway, political lecture over...take it easy, in fact the UK is a much better prospect for artists, esp. fine artist. Heritage abounds here, we're an old culture, that still hasn't fully erased our history for the mighty dollar. Poor old US of A...
    Take it easy Cheryl,
    Happy Easter,
    Sean AKA Psychonaut
    PS I was an altar boy tae!

  15. Dearest Cheryl,
    Maybe you could tell them that you're busy with the Fridays Photo Shoot Out and that if you will not able to show your photos among the participants in due time you'll gonna end up not winning the chance to meet Oprah.. hehe..

    Kidding aside; because we parents truly love our children and as an effect, we believe that to make sure our children are in the best of this world, we are always trying as much as we can to let them realize how to become self actualized at a certain phase of their lives. Failure of our children is always considered as our personal failure as parents.

    Parents similarly with relatives who cares would not stop asking such questions because they felt that you're failing them. Blame it on LOVE.. They love you so much that they are worried that it would be too late for you to realize the importance of achieving self actualization at the right time.

  16. Loida, Loida, wow, I'm a failure if I never have children?!!! That's not only too much pressure. It can't possibly be true.

    And work, all of us who are suffering the effects of the recession are failures? Even though I just had a show in NYC and another in Napa I'm a failure?

    I have to say, if that's really how my family are thinking, and they call it love, I'd be crazy to go to the reunion to be loved like that....

    Sorry but....need some chocolate....

  17. Nice post. What non-artists can never understand is that in the "art of doing nothing," or, more to the point, "their" interpretation of nothing, is where creativity is birthed. Those very so-called time-wasting hours/days are, like you said, "working" days. And, no one understands that better than another creative. Good luck on Easter =(

  18. You hang in there, create. I love the book stack...

  19. Thanks Peter, am reframing how I define my career though. This make it or fail thing is way too limited and suffocating. I'm an artist whether I ever make it or not and I might as well enjoy the journey rather than stare at the map...

    Psychonaught - Universal heath care over here, now or never it seems. If the exchnage rate swings in our favor I'd love te try the art thing over there. Who knows what the next day will bring...

    Rebecca - Thank God for fellow creatives. My tribe.

    Maggie May - Thank you!

  20. Dear Cheryl, no, i never referred to you as a failure. What i mean is, parents are just worried that their children will end up a failure if they don't follow them. Sometimes we parents are neurotic in dealing with our parental duties. Always worried and that's what I mean.

  21. Hi Loida, I was rather defensive wasn't I? That's how I get when around some members of my family for too long. Always wanting them to understand me even when I don't always bother to understand them.


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