Sunday, October 21, 2012

Art's Still Got It

I subscribe to so I can receive an "image of the day" from their collection of illustrations.  There is no newsletter or any written communication accompanying these images--the picture, alone, speaks for itself.

On the 18th of October, the image was from Alice Brickner, entitled "How Much is Enough?" and was quite a blunt depiction of how we can get caught up in the pursuit of more: in this case, more money.

Her illustration almost makes money look like it can be mined from underground, like mineral deposits in layers of rock.  The painting shows a seemingly happy family walking along a path down a hill, and in front of them, nestled under the hill, is a bar graph, showing stacks of money increasing in size.  The graph is blocking their path.

I recently read a book, Comfort, by Brett C. Hoover, that examined different people's ideas of what it means to be comfortable.  Many of those interviewed mentioned financial security, and most measured that differently. 

As an artist and writer who keeps her current job more for the free time it allows than for the stellar wages, I have really started to examine the role money plays in my life.  (Incidentally, reproducing Brickner's illustration in this blog even as a thumbnail would've cost at least $99, so my apologies for the mere link!)  Does it block my path to happiness, as in Brickner's illustration?  Does it dictate my level of comfort, as with the interviewees in Hoover's book?  Should it be as important as I've made it?

"The White Hand" by Nina Boyd
While waiting for my ride to work on the 18th, after viewing Brickner's illustration, I first thought how lucky I was to have someone to give me a ride (my car is broken down and its repair comes with a terrifying price tag).  Then I went through my usual routine of morning worries, which I hope don't also plague my husband: how will we make rent this time, will we ever be able to save enough to get my car running, how will all of this affect Christmas, etc.--and then I thought how often a lot of us worry about being able to afford things, or how often we make lists of things to buy, things to take in.  But how often do any of us worry about our output?  I could certainly be drawing and painting much more often, and producing things instead of collecting them.  I've found that the less time I spend with art, the more I start to believe other things are more important, and the more bogged down I get by them.  Money can be like a dreaded disease: if you have it, you are constantly thinking about it, and if you don't have it yet, you are constantly worried about getting it.
"Teatime" by Nina Boyd

If I got a higher-paying job, I might not have this list of morning worries, but chances are I'd have no time for the things that really make me happy, and in the rush of realizing all of the stuff I could now afford, I might forget what those things are.

It's nice to know that the arts of illustration and writing can still make us think this deeply about something that we might otherwise never stop to consider.

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