Mel Clarkston Art

Mel Clarkston Art







(What Does An Artist Look Like?)
By Mel Clarkston

Mel Clarkston

I was once told by a woman who had visited my painting studio that I did not “look like an artist”. Hmm…I thought to myself, is there really a certain way that an artist is supposed to look? If one were to just go by the stereotypical characters that are portrayed in movies, and on TV, then yes, there are just a handful of artist “types”, or “uniforms” that characterize them. One of my personal favorites is the “Angry Young Artist”. This one is romanticized frequently on the big screen. He (yes, usually male, but there are the rarer female versions) is almost always wearing black from head to toe, and especially likes wearing long sleeves or leather jackets in July. He often dwells in a rat infested studio apartment in New York or Los Angeles, and has a great deal of trouble paying the rent. He is angry because most people just don’t “get” his genius. He further impedes his chances of selling any work by refusing to create anything smaller than twelve feet high by eight feet wide. This type takes himself way too seriously and therefore misses the whole point of art- the joy of creating it.
Another common artist stereotype is one that, as a woman artist, I find particularly annoying. This is the “Hippy Dippy Crazy Cat Lady Artist”. You will find her at arts and crafts festivals in just about any town, peddling her toilet paper doilies, ridiculously huge beaded necklaces that cost more than a new laptop computer, and various other wares. It goes without saying that she: does yoga, is a vegan, and has never had a hair cut (not even a trim). When entering the grounds of one of these festivals, you will be able to spot her a mile away. Look for the woman in a long broomstick skirt, wearing a straw hat, and ten tons of turquoise jewelry. She looks like she stepped right out of an ad in a Santa Fe travel guide. If you are still having trouble locating her, just look for the car in the parking lot that is being held together with bumper stickers that say things like: “That was Zen, this is Tao”. Why “Crazy Cat Lady”? Whether it be cats, dogs, ferrets, or pot-bellied pigs, this type has appointed herself the protector of the entire universe, and therefore, likes to hoard animals. Once again, this type is so busy with her various causes that she misses the whole point of art- the joy of creating it.
Of course, there are other caricatures of creative types, and they are too numerous to mention. Ultimately, those that are the “real thing” often don’t fall into these neat little packages. Being an artist is a way of seeing the world that transcends a uniform or label. The person that is truly consumed with ideas and the desire to express them through paint, clay or other media could look any number of ways and be very different in philosophy from another artist in the same room. So, on the rare chance that I should ever be told again that I don’t look like an artist, I will proudly proclaim: “Yes, I do!”.


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About the Author
Mel Clarkston is a versatile visual artist and art teacher from El Paso, Texas. She and her husband James Clarkson own Clarkston Arts, Guitars & Gifts located at 407 E. Nevada Ave., El Paso, TX 79901

To learn more about Mel Clarkston please visit her online art gallery at: