It's Not All Painting
Most people would probably say that there are parts of their job that don’t seem like they have much to do with the job title.
This is likely the case with any corporate job – I certainly experienced it when I worked as a computer programmer (a long time ago).
It’s even more true with artists, who in many ways live an entrepreneurial lifestyle, squeezing in a precious few hours of painting in between the demands of running their small business, promoting their work, and possibly even holding down a side job to supplement their income.
Even unquestionably great artists had to live this way: Vermeer helped run his family’s inn, Velasquez had to oversee rituals and events for the Spanish court (essentially the royal party planner), and Rubens was tasked with several lengthy diplomatic missions.
It’s not all painting all the time, that’s for sure.
This reality was front and center for me this week, as I spent much of it on a problem I didn’t expect to have to fix right now.
As I was preparing for my upcoming show (to be held entirely online at my website) – I had to confront an uncomfortable truth I’d been trying to ignore for a long time: After years of regular updates but very little proper care and maintainence, my website had become slow.
Halting. Creakingly slow. Slow as molasses.
For from being a boutique concern, this suddenly became the most important task in front of me.
For a modern artist, the website is at the very center of things – it’s the premier stage for their work, where they show themselves in the finest light and can communicate directly to their audience without the limitations and distractions of social media.
And in my case it’s the only place I offer my paintings for sale.
I certainly couldn’t host an art show where each web page took 30 seconds to load – visitors would simply leave, and rightly so.
And so, I rolled up my sleeves and spent several days (and one very, very long night) learning how to optimize my website for speed and performance.
It’s not perfect yet, but it’s a lot better.
Aside from getting a faster website, I hold on to the hope that this might somehow help me as a painter, too.
There’s a lot of evidence that performing challenging tasks and acquiring new skills help protect the brain and maybe even help it continue to develop throughout life – things like doing puzzles and learning new languages are often cited.
Having to immerse myself in learning new skills outside of the realm of painting has a similar feeling to me – it broadens my mental horizons and (hopefully) makes me just a little bit better overall.
Of course I’d rather be painting, but this is all part of the job too.
And what a constantly fascinating and challenging job it is.
I finish between 1 and 4 paintings every month, and show them to my subscribers first.
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