The genre of essays that tackles the eternal question of “to art or not to art” is a time honored one; it can also be a dangerous one if the essayist slides even somewhat towards self-pity. When done well, however, the question examines the various influences at work on the human heart and head and highlight just how at odds the two sometimes are. For your weekend reading, an essay from Elle — "I’m For Sale" — by Genevieve Smith that asks the “to art or not to art” question well and sheds light on the ways we either decide — or refuse — to make sacrifices when it comes to doing what we love:
I recently asked my dad if he ever regretted not following those early ambitions. No, he told me. Even though he’d toyed with doing a more commercial craft like silversmithing or pottery, he realized how hard a life that would be, always having to scramble to keep the money coming. So instead, he found a career that drew on something else he cared about—helping others—and that would also, in later years, allow him to support a family and have enough time to be active in raising them. “I was never out to make a whole lot of money. My whole goal was balance,” he said.
On a more personal note, the writing life versus a salary, health insurance and 401K is the central quandary I’ve been stewing over for going on a decade now. I’ve pretty much given up on finding the answer, if it even exists. My own father was once aspiring painter as well. Like Smith’s, my dad, too, left his artistic ambitions behind to support a family and became an architect instead. Last night, though, he went to an art opening at a gallery in Richmond, Virginia, where a painting of his was hung on the wall, framed and everything. He sent me a picture as proof.
Painting by Wayne White