“Marry someone who supports and encourages your pursuit as an artist,” my college sculpture professor highly suggested to me back in the day.
I really respect this man, as a teacher, successful artist and mentor, so even though as a student, marriage was not a focus of mine just yet, I tucked that advice away. When the days of considering a mate became imminent, I didn’t necessarily set out with an agenda of finding my biggest fan or next potential art agent, I recalled those words. God actually had everything already covered and brought me into relationship with a man that not only fulfills that need for support and understanding but is an all around perfect match for me.
My husband did not have a history of direct involvement in the arts, nor in the life of a practicing artist, but he was “sympathetic”, if you will, to the cause. Over the course of our courtship and first years of marriage, his growing desire to invest in me, drove him into a deeper insight of how to support me as an artist. And, I am so grateful; because, as much as artists are stereotyped to be lone birds, hermits in some cases, and their own best advocate, I believe we really do hunger for true relationship. Besides, if we are honest, who wouldn’t enjoy having a fan?
The real dialogue has long been how he can actually support me. Not for his lack of skill, rather our inexperience in how to do it together. I had never had someone who wanted to enter this messy side of my creating, other than professors of course. I was unsure of how to direct his willingness to assist. It felt threatening in the beginning, maybe even at times uncomfortable to share my budding artistic concepts and developing processes. But, after years of him consistently offering, we are growing in the development of a working relationship. I have learned that I can’t demand the support and encouragement I think he owes me, like some artistic prima donna. What I can do is allow him into my world in his own uniquely supportive way and communicate how his involvement can make my art richer.
My husband has found what his particular support of me looks like through, joining me for art events, outfitting a studio space for me, and making sure I have the time and space to be in it (which becomes more of a sacrifice as our family grows).
Yet, somewhere in the process of coming alongside me, the creative fever began to rub off on him. It wasn’t long before I found him experimenting with my art materials, inquiring about techniques, then sheepishly showing me his creations for critique. Before either of us knew what was taking place, he had created his first real finished artwork, a representation of his developing style, confidence and artistic voice. I think we were both blown away by the results.
Not only does he support me logistically as an artist, but he has also become quite involved in the theological understanding of why my creating, his creating, & your creating matters. In supporting my gift and calling, he has also refined his own… pastoring artists.
So I quote this to you again,
“Marry someone who supports and encourages your pursuit as an artist.” – Dr. Arthur Williams, Sculptor
I echo this to all of you who are serious about your art, single and feel that in order to succeed in your career path, you must forfeit marriage and family. I also say this to those of you who are married to someone you feel doesn’t support your artistic endeavors as you think he/she should. You need to hear that I believe this type of support can be developed if you lovingly & patiently let your spouse into your world. And, to those of you who did marry a fellow serious artist and have seen a spirit of competition develop between you; be each others biggest fan, not just your own.
“Establishing yourself as a visual artist includes surrounding yourself with a group of supporters who believe in you and what you are doing. Family members are the most obvious place to start. Parents, siblings, and spouses should be your staunchest advocates and when their blessings is withheld it is often difficult to muster the confidence to keep pursuing art.” – Barry Krammes, Artist
And, in closing, I must admit that this post is by no coincedence written on our 9th wedding anniversary and given as a gift of appreciation to my biggest fan.