Is daydreaming a prerequisite of being an artist? So many I have known, and including myself tend to have this trait to one degree or another. For myself it is a necessary requirement of the job, letting my mind wander, and rest, gives me a clearer vision of what I want to do. As well as takes me on impossible flights of fancy, (which may not always be a good thing, ) but it is essential.
One thing I’ve always daydreamed about is being part of, what feels like to me, some of the more important times and births of genres in the history of art; The Renaissance, the time of the Impressionist, the Abstract painters of the 20th century, (I only missed that one by a few decades), as well as the coming of age of comic art. To have been included in one of these circles of great minds and talents would have been an incredible experience.
The era that I’ve always felt most drawn to, almost as if I had been there, was the time of the Impressionists. What an exciting, brave romantic time of a burgeoning artistic genre and group of artists to have been part of!
It was bold, and difficult. They were mocked, and bullied by fellow artists. The official royal salon did not accept them. It was most likely when the terrible lable of “starving artist” came to be, and most certainly was true in many cases. Because they were creating a new, often maligned artistic style, it was a constant struggle. Often even amongst themselves, the impressionist artist couldn’t always agree about what was “acceptable ” and what was just “too far”.
Yet, with all of that, how exciting it must have been! They were rebels, outsiders, but passionately believed in what they were doing. They fought for their art, sometimes living in drafty, damp quarters, with little food, (hence the “starving artist sobriquet “). Often in between sales, or the help of patrons, they lacked art supplies, making what they could and reusing canvases to paint new works.
This may all sound pretty rough, and I imagine it was. But there is that wistful charm about it. Somewhat like looking back on our own “glory days”, growing up. There was magic in the struggle. It makes us who we are. It made them who they were, and they were true to themselves.
I imagine, living in an attic studio in old Paris. Lead lined skylight covering most of the ceiling, pans catching the rain where it drips down from the old, cracked caulking. It’s chilly, but there is some warmth from the old stove in a corner. A large bank of lead lined windows, looking out over Paris. Easels, canvases, and brushes everywhere. And being too thin, but still young, strong and dreaming of people loving your work. Meeting up with other like minded painters, giddily talking about what you’re working on, and dreaming of what’s to come with this new way of painting. Complaining of the fools who don’t quite get it. Knowing, feeling to your bones that you’re on to something great. That all the hard times will be worth it. Maybe not knowing that these are the glory days, but maybe a little part of you hanging on for dear life to it, because it is “something “, something important. And it was.