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Between Friends cartoon 001

Art is hard.

Let me put that another way: creating art is challenging.

The vast majority of arts’ consumers – readers, music lovers, gallery attendees – only see the results. Few know of the struggles artists face taking a piece from conception to completion. This is one of the reasons, when I interview artists on the Arts Connection broadcast (shameless plug: Mondays at 9:30 p.m. ET on 94.3 Faith FM and archived at www.selawministries.ca), I specifically ask them about the process: Where did the idea come from? How long did it take? What was the  most challenging part of the process? What part was the most satisfying?

While the answers vary, they help the artist demystify the process and make the creation of art more understandable and accessible to the consumers of art.

For example, I have a musician friend who has been working on a CD project for the past three years. I’ve witnessed the challenges that have arisen, the frustrations faced and the anticipation of a near-completed project. When the CD is finally released, most of the people who will listen to it won’t have the faintest idea of the figurative blood and literal sweat, toil and tears that went into the CD’s creation. All that will matter is whether or not they like what they hear.

Social media has helped pull back the curtain that separates the artistic process from the finished creation. A novelist friend frequently posts updates on their social media feed about the progress of their latest novel. A landscape artist I’ve interviewed posts photos and videos that show the progress being made on current projects. And I’ve frequently posted updates about the progress on a novel I’m working on.

Demystifying the process also helps artists avoid the standard small talk comments which follow the “‘What do you do for a living?’ ‘I’m a writer, musician, etc.'” opening: “I was thinking of doing that at one point but I decided i needed to get a real job” or “I’m thinking of taking up writing once I retire.”

But there will always be those who think creating art is easy and anyone can do it. Smart phones and programmable digital cameras have made everyone think their Ansel Adams. Desktop publishing programs and print-on-demand publishers have created a plethora of Margaret Atwood wannabes. And the list continues based on the various technologies available such as video editing software, etc.

For those of us who are dedicated to our craft, we know how challenging it can be. We know the long hours devoted to creating a work. We know the pain of staring at a blank canvas, an empty computer screen or an unmarked music score as we wrack our brains for the correct colour, word or note. But we also know the satisfaction of a completed creation – or at least a creation we’re now releasing to the public because we know a piece is never really completed since there’s always a tweak here or there that can be made.

So let’s put paintbrush to canvas, fingers to keyboard, chisel to stone, eye to viewfinder, hand to instrument and create art.

No matter how challenging it is.