This is not a judgement…but just a simple observation. The trigger that complled me to perpend on this topic was a friend on Twitter. She’s a lovely artist and a mother of 8. Three of which are not of school age. When her youngest starts school she commented,”I will be free to paint into my eighties.” Clearly demonstrating her willingness to make self sacrifices and confirming what the great geneticists of the universe have deemed.
Women artists have it a bit tougher than us guys. Their maternal instincts are so strong that they will sacrifice life & limb and personal gratification to protect and serve their families. You don’t have to look very far for an example of the male artist’s ego that supersedes any real responsibility to the family. Driven by the passion to paint Monsieur Gauguin had no problem ditching his family. Some would argue although it be in some quarters a weak argument, that the end justified the jilting. I’m not going to directly judge however, I’m no lightweight when it comes to the history of art and several searches trying to find a woman artist who left her family to pursue art, netted zero. I’m sure there is at least one out there, but perhaps they never achieved much notoriety that would cause their laundry to be aired.
When it comes to sacrifices Mary Cassatt may be the queen in the world of art. Dedicated to her craft and loved by many she never made the commitment to marriage or having her own children. Thankfully she was an aunt who enjoyed spoiling her nieces and nephews, which provided her with many of her inspirations. Her outspokenness and certainly luck led her to Degas, who initially became a bit of a tormentor and then a sage and a major influence on her artistic development. I can’t help but wonder if she didn’t have serious regrets in her twilight years.
Woe is the woman artist who marries a man who is an artist. Guess who’s artistic endeavors are going to get the short end of the paintbrush?? Let’s gossip about Lee & Jack. The tumultuous life with the Pollocks. I fervently believe without the tenacity of Lee Krasner it would be Jackson Pollock…who??
“I was always outraged by the bias that I experienced as a woman artist. The bias was not upfront where you could get ahead of it. It was behind my back.” Lee Krasner
Okay…so women have it rough, but what about the male artist??
Driven by his own nature and competitive spirit, good often is never good enough. Male artists will re-work and re-work and re-work until the painting either becomes brilliant or junk, there’s very little gray area. Perhaps one of the greatest artists of our century Pablo Picasso is an example of over achievement and bouts of insecurity and lack of artistic self esteem.Françoise Gilot was sometimes bemused by Picasso’s whining that his art was no good! Man by his very nature creates the straw men of insecurity, which often motivates him to achieve more and more. When observing the nature of a woman artist…the more feminine types will create a painting and experience pure joy and contentment just by the mere possession of the completed work. She can express deep inner feelings, almost purely motivated by emotion without always seeking monetary gratification. While more masculine types of women become competitive embedding the tenacity necessary for monetary success.
The dichotomy for the male artist like the woman artist is that he can lean toward a more masculine or more of a feminine nature. This no doubt for both sexes influences their emotional creativity and willingness to set the bar measuring their own personal successes.
The judgement…the perfect artist is a blending of the two, a balancing act. The artist that is lucky enough to understand the nature of both sexes, decidedly has the edge. For each brings a uniquely defined energy to the canvas.
Men artists & women artists…learn to have empathy. Learn to observe the best qualities in one another, be impassioned. It’s the only true way to become truly a great artist.
“The chief obstacle to a woman’s success is that she can never have a wife. Just reflect what a wife does for an artist.” Anna Massey Lea Merritt