Really, I mean it! For a simply reason: when washing dishes my mind is FREE, I think whatever I want, but when working on so-called “masterpieces” – like custom portraits I had done before, a kind of work that required my full concentration just for reproducing the likeness – my mind is simply a slave of repetitive yet meaningless (to me) labor.
When I just came to this country, my first job (illegal) was washing dish on Sunday, from 11am – 6pm, for $48 total ($6 per hour). Back then I was told by many people that I could do portraits on streets instead of working in restaurants. I didn’t take advice, because I did think working in restaurant was more interesting than working on people’s faces. Half year later I did go to streets to draw people’s faces, not because I loved it, but because working in restaurant simply could not support my life (as an students of private art school). Had the job of washing dishes been able to bring enough money, I would never do portraits, even though it was a job that sounds way better to so many people.
I understand that working on repetitive technical work may not be so terrible to some people, but for me, it is. It occupies my mind, hinders my free thinking and imagination. It is indeed one of worst thing happened to life. The only worse thing I could think of would be living under indigence or slavery.
Yes, the admiration/compliments I received as a portraits artist was overabundant, but they did not complement my “suffering” of losing freedom. This shows how one (persons like me) cannot be happy just by others compliments. My happiness have to come from within – myself, when I feel like my interest has been satisfied.
Of course, I did not mean that washing dishes is the best job I could ever get, but it was a job that suited me better than producing repetitive “masterpieces”. Now, after years of struggling with my career, I found a way out, and very happily, at middle age in my life, in a quiet corner of world which would be overlooked by most busy people, I can say to myself: “finally, I live like a human with free mind!”
P.S. Majority of the portraits I “produced” are beautiful. I have no doubt on my skill and my artistic taste. But why I was not happy to do the job that i am so good at? Here is analogy: think about “rape” – just because a woman was raped, doesn’t mean her babies are not pretty; on the other hand, just because those beautiful babies were born of rape, doesn’t mean the woman would like to be raped again. 🙂
Related post: The pain of a professional custom portrait artist