Artists are usually described as either amateur or professional. You might wonder what the difference is, between one status and the other. It doesn’t necessarily have to do with ability. I’d say that the professional artist is someone who earns a living from their painting. The amateur artist paints for the love of the thing alone. (The word ‘amateur’ ultimately comes from the Latin word ‘amare’ for love.)
My problem is that I don’t feel that either status really applies to me.
Before I took an early retirement, I worked in legal services for the Land Register of Scotland. Latterly I was helping to beat a new Land Registration Bill into shape. Enthralling stuff, of course, as you’ll surely agree. But when I retired, and left all that behind me, I fondly imagined I’d be free to spend all my time painting. I even estimated I’d soon be turning out 10 paintings a month. Ha! What a naïve fool I was.
The truth is, I paint sporadically, when I can and when I want. The rest of my life gets in the way of painting. Or, to be more honest, I let the rest of my life get in the way. I like to do many other things too: go for a walk, spend time with my wife, read a book, listen to music, and so on. It’s my work/life balance. However, I still take my painting seriously and I aim to sell what I produce. Sometimes you hear the label ‘semi-professional artist’ applied to people like me as a status, but it’s not a term I care for. Think about it. If you were ill, would you want to go to a semi-professional doctor for treatment?