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Like many of my classmates that graduated from college in the midst of the Great Recession, the balance between working on my artwork and having to support myself has been tough to do to say the least. It has been four years later and still, the tention between the two has not let up. I wonder if it ever will.

 

Living in Montana is not the home of the contemporary art world. Unless you can get your work noticed out of this state, chances are anyone living and creating art here will only be known in the region. Now there is nothing wrong with that. As long as you are not trying to make a living from your art.

 

There are more artists in Montana than you can shake a stick at. Many of the contemporary artists are well known in and out of the state. Quite a few of the one's I have seen are also teaching at the universities scattered within the borders. That is how they make their bread and butter.

 

I am not one of those artist's. I do not have a Master's nor feel the need at my late age to get one. It seems nowadays that even a lowly artist will not be noticed without one. To heck with your abilities, now art circle politics and the all mighty Master's degree allows you access into their hallowed halls. 

 

That is ok, for I am not ready for those halls just yet. I still feel the need to put together a more solid body of work.  That is where the tention of work verses creating work comes to play. Since I have moved to Billings a few months ago, I began working as a substitute teacher. My thinking at the time was that being called occasionally for teaching would allow me time to focus on my creative side, because I would only be called on occasionally. Boy was I wrong! Every day, I get called to substitute somewhere in the district. Either I am good at this teaching bit, or they are desparate for substitutes nowdays. By the way, we are no longer called "substitutes." We are "guest teachers." 

 

End result has been good for the paycheck, (even that is questionable since the payrate for this job is barely above minimum wage), and terrible for my art making process. I come home every afternoon just exhausted after a day of student interaction. This week has been no exception. I have a painting sitting in front of me prepped to be worked on. It has been staring at me for weeks like a forlorn puppy with it's big eyes saying, "please touch me and pay attention to me? " I am just too tired and drained. I know that I have to take control of this situation or it will control me.

 

I think next week I will have to go to HR and cut a couple of my availability days off from the week. Hopefully then, I can begin again to regain some of my time to work my skills. I am still caught in that see-saw need for instant paycheck or the need to do what is me and what I love. I remember how much I was able to do last week when I had to be home for three days with a head cold. I will not go to my deathbed saying that I wished I had worked more days substituting for teachers. I want to know I did work on creating beautiful works of art up to my dying day.