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Most Common Questions Asked to Artists

Updated on December 6, 2019
PAINTDRIPS profile image

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Forty-Niner Home Plate collage
Forty-Niner Home Plate collage | Source

What Are The Most Common Questions

I asked a group of my art friends,” What are the most common questions people ask you about your art (visual arts, photography, writing, music, crafts, etc.)? I got so many interesting answers I had to share them.

Believe in yourself! Have faith in your abilities! Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy.

— Norman Vincent Peale
Forest Fire Collage
Forest Fire Collage | Source

Special Camera

Kristine: What kind of camera is that? It takes really good pictures. To which I answer, “It’s not the camera.” Seriously, I hear this a lot.

It is a shame that people think it takes a special camera to take good pictures. I had a student who thought I wasn’t giving her the best paintbrush because her painting didn’t turn out like mine. She kept asking to use my paintbrush, which she thought was specially trained. The truth is that you can turn out masterpieces with a burnt stick on rocks if you only try. My friend, Kristine is right, it isn’t the camera. It is about the experience and the practice put into it.

We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover it within themselves.

— Galileo Galilei
Still Life Collage
Still Life Collage | Source

Did You Do That?

Becky: Did you take that photo? Typically with a surprised tone. Yes, I actually have layers.

I get that too. “Did you paint that? Wow. You’re a real artist.” Umm. Yes. I have been for quite some time and don’t act too surprised. I have layers too.

We want to impress people but sometimes the level of surprise is insulting. Especially when you consider that this kind of quality didn’t happen overnight. We didn’t wake up one morning and decide it would be fun to paint professionally or take professional-quality photos. This has taken the better part of a lifetime. A great deal of blood sweat and tears have gone into this work and to have someone act not just impressed but surprised… Well, we have to roll our eyes and consider the source sometimes.

We have art so that we shall not die of reality.

— Friedrich Nietzsche
Old Boots Collage
Old Boots Collage | Source

What Is It?

Sherry: What is it?

Okay, I could indulge my baby brother when he asked that question. I was only 12 when I started painting and he was 5 or 6. I was a beginner and he didn’t have much experience being subtle. But when folks say that now it means basically I have failed as an artist to bring out the image I was intending. If it were abstract, that would be one thing, but I paint in a representational manner always depicting something that should be readily understandable.

My sister used to ask this question knowing it was a sarcastic dig that would get my goat every time. I can laugh with the best of them but this is my life’s work and it is a bit close to my heart. Don’t ask “what is it” unless you really want to hurt someone’s feelings, or know them well enough to know they won’t take it too personally.

Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.

— Unknown

Education

Debbie: I know people are always asking me if I went to school to paint like that or if it is just raw talent. What they seem to forget is that raw talent doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to practice and work and perfect that raw talent or it amounts to zip.

This is true. Education is fine and is helpful to learn the basics of anatomy and rules of light and shadow, but when it all comes down to it, practice and years of work are what make the artist worth his salt. The musician who can play by ear still has to practice, learn how to read music and put in the time before he or she is of concert quality. Writers have to write, artists have to draw.

My Experience

I went to a meeting of the Society of West-Coast Artists where the president at the time asked how often we drew something. I was the only one of 30 people who raised her hand admitting to drawing something every single day. I feel I must or I will bust. I need to create. For me, it is as vital as breathing.

At the age of 12, I had an English teacher recognize some talent in me that I didn’t know I had. She told my mother to be sure to enroll me in art classes in high school. Imagine my surprise. This teacher had never told me anything but that I had poor spelling skills. I feel bad now for having called her “Bird-Legs Tedrow” all year. Because of her remarks to my mother, I have been painting and drawing ever since. I will forever be grateful to her. Who knows what direction my life may have taken if she hadn’t made that announcement to my mother?

Kitchen Window Sill Collage
Kitchen Window Sill Collage | Source

Final Thoughts

What are the most common questions asked you about your art? Are they laughable or spot-on? What do you answer people when they ask you these questions? I would love you hear your thoughts in the comments below.

Comments

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    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      18 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lawrence Hebb,

      You ARE diplomatic to not be offended. And then again, where did you get the time, is not an offensive question as "I didn't know you could write" is. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Dense

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      18 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Denise

      The comment I get most is, "You wrote a book! When did you get the time?"

      I'm usually diplomatic in my reply, but point out, "no, I've written four so far!" Then get into explaining how to create the time to do it!

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      William Kovacic,

      Thank you. I think about art a lot and creative questions. Maybe too much introspection but it is what it is. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      Audrey Hunt,

      I'm so happy to hear from you again. Keep up the drawing. It's great therapy and gives a lovely peaceful feeling. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      19 months ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      Quite a list of good questions and answers, Denise. Thank you for sharing. I found it very interesting.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 

      19 months ago from Idyllwild Ca.

      I enjoy this series! And an added treat features your incredible works of art. Meanwhile, I continue to practice the bare necessities of drawing. Thank you.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      Mary Norton,

      I'm sure too. I don't think these questions offend me as much as amuse me. Someone is always asking if I thought of selling my work. That would be a fine question if they were asking to buy my work but usually, they aren't. Now that is actually offensive. Of course, I thought of it. That doesn't mean I'm able to do it often. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      19 months ago from Ontario, Canada

      I love your collages. I agree with you that hard work is necessary to develop talent. Sometimes, people ask questions without thinking that it could be insulting. I'm sure many great artists faced those questions, too.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      Lori Colbo,

      I'm sure that Charles Dickens received eye-rolls when he said he was a writer too. It takes a while to create a name for yourself. Artists have the same problem. Everyone is a doodler but not everyone can become a professional artist. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      Devika Primić,

      Thank you. I love painting and collaging my images. It takes time but it is my favorite thing. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      Nithya Venkat,

      Thank you. I'm glad you like my work. The problem with painting every day is that I have paintings everywhere. I put them for sale on several sites but often I throw them away after a few years. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      Liz Westwood,

      Thank you very much. I appreciate your comment.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 

      19 months ago from United States

      I have asked people "Did you draw/paint that?" Usually, it's because I didn't know they were artists.

      I am a writer. I am not very good at art but sure do appreciate it. When people ask what I do and I say a writer I can tell they want to roll their eyes, so I try to change the subject. You have given me food for thought.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      19 months ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      I like your work and it shows your profession is neat and true. Your photos are beautiful and great talent indeed.!

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      19 months ago from Dubai

      Your paintings are beautiful! Raw talent and practice is what brings out the best. It is great that you paint a picture everyday, hats off to you. Enjoyed reading your article.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      19 months ago from UK

      This is a fascinating article, addressing some interesting questions. English teachers have a knack of spotting talent.

    • PAINTDRIPS profile imageAUTHOR

      Denise McGill 

      19 months ago from Fresno CA

      Bill,

      Good one! That's the truth for me too. I've always been an artist even when I wasn't aware I could do anything more than doodle with it. Haha. Thanks for commenting.

      Blessings,

      Denise

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      19 months ago from Olympia, WA

      "How did you end up being a writer?" to which I always say, "I've always been a writer!" And I have, published or not,writing has always been an important part of my life.

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