Starving Artist

The definition of a STARVING ARTIST is someone who sacrifices material well-being to focus on their artwork. Originally, it was a description of a selfless act. Art was considered the act of creating something to bring meaning and pleasure. The commonly held definition is someone on their way up the ladder, or possibly someone failing to make it happen.

There is a perception the artist is starving because they aren’t good enough, somehow been diverted, or haven’t committed themselves enough to walk the painful, dark road to success.  To be an artist, one must also be selfish to some degree, as it is a form of self-expression that can be both wonderful and, at times, strangely destructive to the artist.

One can find examples in Van Gogh who shot himself and his last words were “The sadness will last forever”, or Jimi Hendrix, who drank and drugged his way to the grave, even as he became known as one of the greatest instrumentalists in rock history.

I am saying the definition can change.

One time, I asked my mother if she enjoyed cooking. She told me no. “I cook for your father.” The implication was that he was very picky, even though I never saw him complain. In hindsight, I realize he probably complained privately—or there was a drama early on with them. It influenced my mother’s enjoyment of cooking.

I cook for other people all the time, but I really enjoy it. Even when I must cook for a specific palate—gluten-free, vegetarian, you name it! It is a challenge. I enjoy the preparation process, the actual cooking part, the presentation, and I love the compliments I get when I do it well. I believe a well-cooked meal is a metaphor for a well-lived life. Cooking is an art-form.

Every time you eat something, you affirm life and your rightful place in the universe. By expressing our thanks for a meal, we also nourish the one who prepared it. We remind them they have successfully done something necessary and wonderful for others.

Sometimes I feel like my mother… who in most ways is an optimistic person, enjoys being alive, and lives her days in a reasonable and healthy manner may have been deprived of the satisfaction that can come from being the cook.

She is, in a manner of speaking, a starving artist.