Advice to Those Who Live With Artists < Deep Thought Thursday

What words of wisdom do you have for those who live with or love artists?

This DTT was prompted by a scene in the current novel I'm reading, The Time Traveler's Wife, in which the main male character (Henry) observes the needs and behaviors of his artist-wife (Clare).

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23 thoughts on “Advice to Those Who Live With Artists < Deep Thought Thursday”

  1. I LOVE The Time Traveler’s Wife!
    My first thought: give the artist space. Don’t take it personally when they need time both in the studio and out to just noodle around and be.

  2. Be- Happy, easy, flow, allow, and give the process the opportunity to grow into the finished process.
    Just expect that we artist will be late to the rest of life.

  3. Don’t treat the creative process as a lesser “thing”, and impose non-art priorities over scheduled “art time”. If there is a request for “time to do art” there is a reason for it. Please be understanding of this need.

  4. Don’t try to change their work. Also, don’t buy them art gifts from Target. A tiny original piece directly from an artist will be much more appreciated.

  5. Give her space to be herself – not just the physical space, but the emotional space as well. Sometimes we need to be very ‘big’ and need that room to express our creativity. Respect her need for solitude and alone-time. Don’t interrupt her when the door is closed, unless the house is on fire.

  6. Being an artist is a job; do not treat it as anything less.
    Be honest in your critique WHEN ASKED; pandering only leads to heartache.
    Listen, understand, empathize.
    Hey, these could apply to any relationship!

  7. I’m single so I can’t speak form personal experience, but I have observed many couples where the non-artist enables the artist too much. Buying them all the equipment/supplies they need, giving them too much praise and “there-theres” and “it’s not your fault.” This promotes failure, because there’s no motivation to succeed. And it’s REALLY annoying, because it’s the non-artist’s ambition to have an artist as a spouse, more than the spouse really wants to do all the hard work of building a business. My advice to those non-artist partners is “get your own ambition!”

  8. I think I agree with ‘so sorry’:). Maybe your spouse could just enjoy the ride of what is coming next. At least that is in my case.

  9. The easiest answer is for the other half to also be an artist…short of that the normal person could grant the artist an abundance of time to do work alone. No comments, no whining, no demands. And when the artist is ready the flood gates of passion and gratitude are there.

  10. The need to create is part of the spouse. Give the person space and time to do what she/he needs to do in the studio or out. Know that she/he could be doing something much more troubling and that this is a positive outlet. Creating can be very therapeutic, channeling stress etc. into a positive outcome.
    If you have concerns over finances, space, time, hoarding, etc., approach the spouse in a way that is helpful and not condemning. It is possible the person is inwardly questioning what they are doing and thinking you would surely say something.

  11. Please do not tell us what to paint or how to paint just because something is very popular in the market right now.
    Give us space so we could find our way to popularity…

  12. My husband could write a better response here than I can, but I’ll do my best at writing down what he does well:
    -If your Artist seems out of sorts, order her/him to their studio and spend the rest of the night taking care of the kids, dinner and dishes etc.
    -Tell everyone what an amazing Artist your Artist is
    -Speak the truth about the work you see – if you have a discerning eye and your Artist is into that sort of thing. “what wrong with this corner” recently helped me tremendously
    -Be good at framing or hanging or wiring 😉
    -Never pressure your Artist about whether or not they’ve sold anything recently

  13. Dan - Husband of Artist

    The best relationships involve each partner having a life of their own, separate from each other, in addition to their life together. With that in mind, let the artist/spouse do their art thing. Allow the freedom to create and be supportive. In the long term, they’ll be happier and it’ll be better for the relationship.

  14. My perspective is a bit different, living with non-partners.
    My best friend is my housemate along with, more recently, his new husband. (who seems used to my quirkiness now) He has always been my biggest supporter without buying or even necessarily liking the work. 🙂 Living with me? Yikes, I don’t know how he does it!
    Recognising that my creative space is private – he never would even open the door to my studio when I had it at home. Realising my time, days, weeks are out of kilter with everyone else. Shows are usually on weekends. An opening on a Thursday night. He’s very sweet and often will cook dinner on a day when I’ve got a show or an open studio, knowing I’ll be exhausted at the end of the day.
    Being open to rambling business talk. He’ll listen to my dilemmas and verbal debate with myself about what to do. And usually when I’m doubtful he’ll have the perfect comment (he’s quiet soft spoken) about what I want to do, the risks I’m happy to take, etc. That little bit of encouragement gets my brain back on the right track when in doubt.
    Never questioning work ethic, recognising that an artist’s work might not seem like work to other people. He never judges what work is, or the hours I do. That means he realises a day out sitting on the river thinking can be work. That staying at home to do admin is equally important as going to the studio. But he’ll also say “maybe you should go to the studio, you haven’t been in a while” right when my motivation is getting low.
    We shared a place for about 4 years, then a break of 5 years, then decided to share again. So he knew what he was in for. 😉

    1. My word, Tina M., how fortunate you are! I could depress you with my story, but will not. I am so glad you have such a wonderfully supportive friend, exactly what we all should have…and hope you have a long lifetime of blossoming creativity!

  15. Kate Klingensmith

    Do: Be very supportive of the artist’s efforts.
    Respect the artist’s need for privacy and alone time.
    Respect the artist’s need for travel, going to galleries, etc.
    Don’t: Say artists never make any money (the ex used to say that)
    Ask what’s for dinner. Make some of the meals. This was an
    especially sore point since the ex worked at home and I worked
    part time out of the home and had commutes of 76-92 miles per

  16. Jennie rosenbaum

    I guess i’m lucky, my husband is very understanding, pushes me into the studio when I need pushing, gives me mostly helpful critiques, and listens to me work out my problems. The number one tip for partners I have is
    Don’t go into the studio uninvited. Seriously. If the house is burning down knock first. My SO and I have a system of messages to let me know if he needs me without his coming anywhere near me. I get furious when interrupted. I don’t know many artists who don’t.

  17. Still married to “the man” after 30 years. I wish I would have done things differently – like not made it so easy for him. I answered the bill collectors, foraged for food, took the heat to let him “work”. He would have been stronger as an artist and I would have been less resentful if I had not been so protective.

  18. Are mostly just artists going to read this? Are the other halves going to get to see this? Maybe we should make a little book (illustrated of course) for the partners of artists out there (better than a support group!)
    This is a good question with no “right” answer and timely, as I was just asking some artist friends how they handle their busy painting schedules with their familes. The answer was, “not easily”. They told me never get married to someone who doesn’t support what you’re doing completely.
    I think the advice I would give to the partner of an artist is to ask the artist a lot about what’s happening with them and their work, to try and understand and be interested in their evolution and to realize an artists’ life is a work in progress never perfected, but on the road to.. Our lives are a visual exploration and inquiry, not just a finished product. Input and criticism are fabulous in the form of dialogue and essential if you want a deep and meaningful relationship with an artist.
    I like the “don’t take it personally” comments, so true. We need lots of time alone, we also need time that seems “unproductive” to the untrained eye. Being under pressure from our partners to just produce finished and sellable products (or for me personally) can often times slow down the process.
    Anyone who wants to make that book just let me know, sounds like a fun and worthwhile project!

  19. I am one of the non artist other halves reading this. My artist/musician husband have been together for 20 years and only in the past 5-6 years recognized our differences. We are attracted to each other because I admire not only his talent, but his expressive awareness while he admires my sensibility and emotional availability. Yet we really struggle to understand one another. Our relationship improved when I ceased to be his manager and pursued my own career as a counselor.
    So, advice for non artists spouses?
    Keep in mind that the creative process is experimental, based on inspired ideas. Today’s inspired idea may be completely forgotten by the weekend so don’t get attached to outcomes whenever you hear, “you know what I’m gonna do?” Realized that inspired ideas morph into more inspired ideas that eventually evolve into some form of expression and beauty. Trust the process.

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