Help! My daughter wants to be a painter

<p>My daughter is starting her Sophomore year at an Art college and has declared a "painting" major. Her dream is to become a working painter (gallery artist). I am trying hard to accept and support that idea but I truly think this is the WRONG choice for her. I'm ok with the art school and the painting major in general but I think she is being totally unrealistic to think she is going to make a living as a painter. We even met with a gallery owner and basically he told her to plan to work as a waitress or bartender because it's about the art and not about the money. YIKES!!! Why would I continue to pay for her school if that's the case? From everything we have been told true painters live, eat & breathe painting. My daughter has been home all summer (no job but plenty of free time) and hasn't done any painting or even art for that matter. Her true strength is in her social personality and she really likes to be around people. Painting is a soliatry world. I can support her interest in the art world and her pursuing a creative career but I truly believe being a painter is not the correct long term choice for her. She thinks I'm unsupportive and want her to sell out. I want her to recoginze her strengths and use those to start paving a path to a future CAREER. HELP!! Any suggestions on how to get my daughter to recognize that maybe her "dream" isn't truly the right fit without totally alienating her?</p>

<p>So she'll work in a gallery, develop good taste. Maybe she'll end up in the auction business. </p>

<p>And yes, art is about the art, and not about the money. So? </p>

<p>It might take some time for this to work itself out of her system, if it ever does. You are going to have to give it time.</p>

<p>I know lots of serious artists who have found day jobs. To name a few: Book designers, teachers, two who worked in imaging labs at a med school. And of course there are some lucky artists who can live off their art - not necessarily the best artists, you have to be dedicated, savvy and lucky. Her social personality may help her - or her day job may be gallery or auction work as mini suggested.</p>

<p>It's strange that someone who wants to be a painter isn't already painting. It's like kids who want to "write" but don't spend any time writing. The truly artistic have creative compulsions that must be accommodated, either professionally or as a hobby. The fact that your daughter is not actually creating anything during a summer off is a sign that she doesn't know herself very well. You are right to be concerned. However, it's unlikely that anything you say will get through to her. Experience will teach her what she does not know about herself. You can warn her, however, and also make it clear that you will pay for her 4-year degree and after that, she is on her own financially. Do not let her indulge in fantasies of unlimited support. This will be hard because we do not want to see our kids suffer.</p>

<p>H is a painter (gallery artist). He said he would never let our kids follow in his footsteps. He has had some success and some fame, but by and large, it is very difficult making a living by selling your artwork. </p>

<p>You know your daughter. If you dissuade her, will that just make her want to do it all the more? Perhaps tell her it's great she knows what she wants to do, and tell her you know she's so smart she will realize only a small percentage of artists make a living selling their work, so you know she is checking into careers where she can use her talents but also not have to live at home or marry someone she doesn't like just to be able to live in a decent apartment. Like art therapy, or auction house or art gallery, or museum work, or art publishing. So many fields.</p>

<p>I'm ok with the idea of working in a gallery or auction business but right now she doesn't consider that as an option. She thinks that's "selling out" yet her current actions are not demonstrating that she truly has the drive or true understanding of what it will take to be an painter and frankly I'm not ok with my kid's aspirations being to be a waitress or bartender. If that's the case then why put out all the money for college? Just paint and if you really want it it will happen.</p>

<p>She doesn't aspire to be a waitress or a bartender; she's just unrealistic about her chances. The world will teach her what her limits are. If she is developing academically, creatively, and personally, I don't think a degree in painting is a waste. She also has three years left of college, and further exposure to the art world may cause her to reevaluate her goals a year from now.</p>

<p>Yes, I agree but my problem is she has become her own roadblock. She is so concerned with proving that she is artistic that she is no longer considering any options of how she can still use her artistic abilities and still make a living. Of course the more I push the more she just wants to prove me wrong. I think she really isn't taking her true assets strengths into consideration. I truly believe she loves painting and it's her release and enjoyment but I don't believe that painting is the ultimate career for her. I think it's destin to be her hobby, interest, stress relief whatever you want to call it but I don't think it's realistic to think she will make a living at it. Sorry if that sounds unsupportive but I'm a realist and a middle class one at that and some day some way my kid is going to have to support herself so at some level, yes it is about the money!</p>

<p>I do not think she will starve if she goes the printer route. She may have to struggle, but if she truly loves painting, I do not see why you should push her away from her passion. That said, if she doesn't paint on her own, she is not a painter.</p>

<p>Well, I would say that since she's only a rising sophomore, don't rule out that this feeling about "selling out" is just a phase she's going through. College students are idealistic and also experts at engaging in magical thinking. As she continues to mature, her opinions about being a working artist may also change. It's unlikely that anything you say or do is going to speed that maturation process up, or even kick it in motion. In fact, the more you say it's unrealistic, as you've seen, the more she'll probably think you're wrong. </p>

<p>So instead, tell her that you support her and want her to do well. But emphasize that once she graduates, she's going to have to support herself. She can figure out how to do that, and if she can figure out how to do it by painting, then so much the better. If painting doesn't work out, she'll eventually find her way to other things.</p>

<p>Thanks. That's good advice. I'm trying to figure out how to get her to open up and explore the many, many options out there. I think she has closed herself off buy trying to immerse herself in "art". She's smart and a very good studend. She used to be very active and social in high school. She did nothing but art/classes her freshman year in college (no clubs, activities, service work) and I think she's actually lost some of what makes her such a wonderful, interesting person becasue she's lost that social aspect of herself.</p>

<p>I wouldn't worry about the money aspect, (especially as she's at art school already!) but I would worry about the fact that she's not painting. </p>

<p>But then-- I wouldn't worry about it much at all. She's 19, she's got a bee in her bonnet, see how it plays out. The world is so discouraging for any artist, that anyone who doesn't really love it is weeded out very quickly. Who knows where this will lead? Her social skills will help her when she's out and looking for jobs, and a creative spirit, encouraged and developed, will help too.</p>

<p>OP -- if I'm reading you right, you are having concerns about paying for the upcoming school year if all she wants to do is be a painter, is that correct?</p>

<p>Does her school have any core curriculum requirements? Can you insist she takes an intro Econ or English class or something so she's not just taking studio art?</p>

<p>One thing I'll point out -- artists have to be part business people too. The most successful ones are good at marketing themselves, budgeting, and keeping track of expenses. Perhaps she will agree to include some business courses (which will help if the painting thing doesn't pan out).</p>

<p>And I agree with others who said if she really wanted to be a painter, she would be painting. H was drawing since he was 7.</p>

<p>What was her proposed major before declaring it as painting?</p>

<p>Could she double-major (although I know that's hard with studio art because of the long hours) or at least take a couple of courses in magazine design? Most of the designers I work with are fine artists on the side, and if she can get work at a magazine, at least she'd be working in an artistic capacity.</p>

<p>Also, I used to work with a guy who was a whiz at photo color correction, the best. All the photo editors wanted to use him exclusively. Turns out he had been a painting major!</p>

<p>Teaching would be another viable combo with painting, although art teacher jobs are probably hard to get right now.</p>

<p>I think your panic is premature-- but hugs to you, this whole letting go business is very stressful.</p>

<p>I don't think you get to dictate what she majors in, and I don't think it's productive to start worrying now about what she'll be doing in 5 years.</p>

<p>But I think a parent of a college kid gets to lay out the following:</p>

<p>1- we will pay X for your education. After you graduate, you are welcome to move home while you find a job. We will continue to pay your cellphone (if you do now) and feed you for.... 90 days? 6 months? whatever seems reasonable to you, after which you will have either moved out and become financially independent, or will be living here and paying us rent to defray your expenses. We will always love and support you emotionally- the cash stops on ____ (fill in the blank.)
2- you will need health insurance once you stop being a full time student. That costs money, but that's what grownups do.
3-We can send you... (fill in the blank) $50 a week, $10 a month, whatever you can afford for your "extras" in college. The rest you need to fund via a part-time job. You may want to think about developing some marketable skills in that part-time job (art aide in a nursing home, design assistant at a furniture store, cashier in a museum gift shop) but if you want to just shelve books in the campus library that's fine too.
4- You need to be working next summer- again, you can decide what kind of job. If it were me (and I concede that it's not) I'd be looking to be an art instructor at a camp, or a gallery assistant at an auction house, or a web layout intern at a publication or other similar place- but it's your choice. But you will not have the option of hanging out for an entire summer- that's what HS kids get to do, by next summer you will be halfway through your college education and need to step it up. If you want to save your earnings from your job during the year to finance a summer of painting, that's your choice. </p>

<p>And then let it go for now.</p>

<p>Your D is too young to know now what she wants to do for the rest of her life, but you are only increasing her belief that she's destined to paint for a living by somehow criticizing her plan. So she wants to paint? Great. We love you, we support you emotionally, now go get a job.</p>

<p>Op - I agree with the other posters that time could change her mind. It does seem strange that she wants to be a painter but doesn't paint. It could be that school allows her to have the type of atmosphere she needs to paint and home doesn't. Home is that soft place you land...</p>

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If that's the case then why put out all the money for college? Just paint and if you really want it it will happen.

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<p>Well she could be a business major that works as a waitress...all you can do is love and support her. My DS is an incoming freshman as an econ major and last month he started talking about being a pet vet. Where did that come from? He barely acknowledges our 2 dogs. Hugs.</p>

<p>I understand your concern. However, I'd advise against balking at paying for her school. Having a degree in painting is still better than having no degree at all. It sounds like your daughter is trying to figure things out. Figure herself out. Few humanities majors lead to a "CAREER" yet somehow the tens of thousands English, history and psychology majors do find employment eventually. So will your daughter, even if she has to so some waitressing in between.</p>

<p>I would advise her to think broadly about opportunities to paint. There is quite a community of Scenic Artists around the country that get paid for their work.</p>

<p>Aren't her professors giving her insight about her work and skill set? I have several former students that are doing well as painters. One is a professor in NYC and another airbrushes commercially. One went the MFA route, the other is only a high school graduate. There is one thing that they both have in common; they were obsessed with painting, and worked at their craft everyday!</p>