I asked if I could hijack Bill’s blog this week. I’m Kristie, spouse of an artist, and there are a few things I feel prompted to write about concerning my station as an artist’s wife. I don’t pretend to speak on behalf of all spouses of artists out there, but I have found that we are very similar in many aspects, some of which even our talented counterparts may not be aware of.
On May 5th Bill and I will be celebrating 28 years of marriage. I grew up a country girl, and the only things I can remember adorning our walls were crochet plant holders. I was blessed to grow up at the base of Pikes Peak and was outside playing on my horse most of the time. The only art I appreciated were the Sunday comics.
I was destined for the rough and tumble cowboy husband, but then I met Bill. Without boring you with all the details, we obviously got married. Before the wedding bells rang Bill took me to the Outlaw Gallery in Montana where he had a piece hanging. I had never seen his artwork before, so this would be my introduction. As we climbed the stairs to the upper portion of the gallery I saw a piece and knew immediately that it was his. I could feel the connection.
I have watched him paint on numberless occasions and now I edit many of his videos. At times, I see him put a brush stroke in and think “Ew, that was a mistake.” Then somehow as he continues building up the scene that brushstroke ingeniously holds the story together. I’ll never get used to that. How can a mind work so far in advance to know how these strokes of colors will work together eventually to create such a lovely picture? The artist’s mind baffles me!
This delight and awe of the process also gives me a slightly biased opinion of Bill and his art work. They say an artist needs to have tough skin. Well then, an artist’s spouse should have leather! Juried shows where he’s won the appropriate amount of accolades are wonderful, and I get to bask right there on his arm. But not all jurors saw his genius! Some didn’t even give a nod to his work in passing.
The frustration of those instances is only magnified by knowing that on the drive home he’ll go through all the self-doubts and occupation misgivings that can come from being ignored. It’s the companion’s duty to soothe and encourage, even when they themselves might be feeling a lot of those same emotions.
We’re not the norm in any niche. We have a rather large family (7 children), and I have been a stay at home mom most of the time. That means that the major wage earner has always been Bill. Sure we’ve had to live simply at times, but never in want. I learned how to make bread, cook from scratch (which is not an easy chore for an outdoor horse gal), and find the best thrift shops.
I now realize that any gallery would be very lucky to carry Bill’s art – we pray over them night and day! Slowly through the years we have reached a point where we no longer have to ‘rob Peter to pay Paul”, and can breathe easy when a new month starts and new bills are due. I say this because it was, and still is, a sacrifice!
An artist’s success depends on their ability to concentrate on their talent. I have had my whiney days when I’ve seen friends buy bigger houses or drive newer vehicles, but I get over it quickly when I see my husband doing what he loves. I’ve seen him try out ‘the working world’, and he is akin to a fish out of water, slowly shrinking. He thrives in the studio!
Here are 9 things I’ve learned through almost 3 decades with an artist:
- While miraculously never having had an accident- driving with an artist can be a very stressful event when he takes his eyes off the road for extended periods of time to ‘notice the shadows in a clump of trees’. I drive more and more to allow him the freedom to study landscapes so that we can arrive in safety.
- Family trips – from our early married days to just last month – generally revolve around National Parks, galleries, and museums.
- Sometimes I need to back off if he gets ‘in a mood’. Quite often he takes it onto the canvas and has produced some amazing pieces. Art therapy!
- Simply telling him it’s time for lunch … 7 times … is not enough to get him to come in for lunch. I now take him his lunches, otherwise he forgets to eat altogether.
- Many times children of an artist inherit those artistic abilities and utilize those abilities in interesting ways. You should see some of the crazy projects produced in our home! This was a recent one, within the last couple years, when 3 of our daughters decided they wanted to be broken porcelain dolls for Halloween.
- Being self-employed leads many to mistakenly believe he doesn’t have a job, and therefore is free to help out anytime, day or night. What they don’t realize is that he generally goes to his studio early in the morning, comes in for dinner around 6:00pm, and often he goes back to his studio after putting the kids to bed. He does this everyday but Sunday! I’ve learned to field requests so that he doesn’t get called out of the studio more than he should.
- Artists are different! I would say sorry, but you know it’s true. They have to be different to create what they do. They are more compassionate and sensitive. You would think armed with that knowledge I would act and speak with a little more thoughtfulness. It’s a process…. a slow one.
- Things get forgotten. Like Christmas. When an artist spends every day – basically alone – in their studio, the days can run together. The spouse must remind the artist of things like weekends and holidays. If the spouse doesn’t there’s a good chance the artist may wake up one morning and say, “Is it Christmas?”. No joke. Once when Bill figured out it was Christmas morning he ran into the basement, rummaged through my craft materials, and produced a gift for me an hour later. I still have it and cherish it, though admittedly I wasn’t thrilled with it that particular Christmas morning.
- My artist is a humble one. I realize they can come with all sorts of personalities, and I’ve met some who expect automatic edification from those around them. I’ve been blessed though. All Bill wants is for everyone to experience the beauty God has given us. If you’re not married and want to marry an artist, find a humble one because it’s an amazing thing.
Bill doesn’t treat me like a lackey. I’m not here to wash his brushes, help him set up his easel, film him, or pack up the van. But I do those things, and so much more, because I love him and it’s our business! He doesn’t call a painting done until I critique it. He values my opinion. I have not lost myself while supporting him, and he is constantly supporting me in my venues.
Artists are needed more now than ever! The digital age has a lot to offer, but the raw paint and canvas type of art will survive through the ages, long after the latest smart phone craze dies off. It’s up to us – the spouses, companions, supporters, to keep our artists fed, make sure they get some sleep, remember when major holidays are approaching, and that they know what amazing people they are and how much they are valued.
This is a great work, but when all is said and done our greatest work is our family, and we’re grateful for the unusual opportunities and stories having an artist with us has brought about!
Thank you for sharing some of your personal life with us. I can see the goodness in you both in every video and webinar.
What a beautiful family you have.
Thank you Janyce! ~Kristie
I love your work Bill, I too am an artist and more importantly a christian.your bride has nailed themind of an artist for sure, My hubby is a musician so we mesh like peanut butter and jelly. Keep up the good work and kuddos to your lovely bride.
Thanks, Suzanne! With all that right-brain creative energy around your place, it sounds like you need to hire a good left-brain assistant to keep life organized. Although, I imagine you have a lot of fun together!
What a wonderful blog about living with an artist. I enjoyed it immensely. God Bless.
Thank you Linda- you artists are a great lot! ~Kristie
Thank you for the thoughtful article. I really enjoyed it and I got some good information. I always wondered what the spouse of an artist’s thought and felt, and I now have a clear picture. I admire you both and understand each of you has a talent. You share your individual talents with each other. I really believe you two are a “working couple”. Congratulations.
Thank you Barbara, we do try to function as a whole, just 2 different sides come together to make it that way. ~Kristie
Kristie, thank you for filling in for Bill. You are the best thing that could have happened to him. I really enjoyed reading ‘your blog’. You must be a wonderfully together woman, to have born 7 children and supported Bill through all his trials and tribulations. Art is a passion others sometimes don’t understand. I too have stopped the car to study the trees and the skyholes or the sky colors or how a hay roll looks and the colors in things. Thanks to my cellphone I can capture some of those things and hopefully attempt to paint them. As a wife I don’t get the opportunity to paint as much as I would like but when I do I’m in a place no-one but another artist can understand. Thanks for reading. Sue
ahhh, so you’re the other one pulling over and taking pictures in odd spots along the highway:-) Thanks for your kind words! ~Kristie
I really loved reading this. I call myself a recreational painter…far from a professional artist, but I still saw myself in some of your descriptions. And I suppose the some of the same things could be said about supporting a spouse in whatever endeavors, but definitely artists are a different breed. This blog was so very personal. Thank you!
I think whether full time or on weekends there’s a special spirit that dwells in each artist! Bless you! ~Kristie
WOW! You hit that nail on the head.
I’m a new member and haven’t interacted in any way except to wander around the site.
Excited to be here but can’t seem to squeeze out the time and energy to just sit down
and paint. I know when I start I can’t stop and life is just full of other plans for me.
There is a lot of guilt in not being available to everyone and having to be nice about
it while trying to hold on to whatever is was that had you so whipped up and just
couldn’t wait to get it on paper or canvas.
God Bless you KristieI. I hope you know how valuable you are.
Thank you Marjorie. Sometimes life is like that, I hope you can soon find that calm in the eye of the storm, breathe, and create! ~Kristie
What a beautiful expression of both your life and your love; a journey so very well articulated in so few words. Thank you for sharing…God Bless you both.
Thank you Sandra! ~Kristie
Congratulations Family Bill!
You are very blessed!Thanks to share with us your great testimony of life and joy of your family!!It is a blessing to your husband and his all activities and be nearest to him all the time!And it is good for your children to love the father’s work,it is inheritance!
I love the work of Bill since I saw them on the Facebook,and my daughter of 15 years was on my neck asking me to get for her painting course on Google,day and night she was crying at me!!She is a good artist in drawing and paint,but here it is very expensive for child to enter in such school according to my capacity!!!
I too am an artist trough handcrafts making!!I admire Bill talent and your family,especially your lovely wife and it is true it might be fine to marry an artist sure!!
Congratulations once again and keep it up!!!
Thank you Mukandayisenga, I hope you and your daughter enjoy whatever creative outlets you can find. God will provide the way – Kristie
Would you mind emailing me at email@example.com. I would like to see if there’s anything I can do to help your daughter feed her passion. – Bill
Thank you Kristi for sharing with us. God has gifted you in many way’s , but not only with being a wonderful Mother and Wife but also with a gift of writing!! Enjoyed your blog very much and can see myself in your description of your husband. So thankful to have the priviledge to be able to read your thought’s . My prayer’s are for Bill’s continued success and for his sweet Wife and Family!!!!
Thanks so much Ruth! Bill’s mom’s name is Ruth, I always have a soft spot in my heart for any Ruth, you all seem to be so kind and gentle. Kristie
Kristie-Thank your for sharing your family life with us. I know you have helped Bill become what he is today in more ways than anyone can ever know. It isn’t easy being the wife (or husband) of an artist. My sweet long-suffering husband is very patient and supportive and has been for years. But those who support deserve much of the glory! Thanks for filling in on the blog and giving us more insight into your sweet relationship and wonderful family. God Bless you all!
Thank you Janie, and I bet your husband is so proud of you! ~Kristie
Thank you Kristi! You are the glue that holds everything together. Bill and the children are so blessed!!!
Thank you Bev! Kristie
Thanks Kristie for telling a beautiful life story which is just as special as Bill’s. Happy anniversary. I am from a family of eight children so I truly appreciate seeing your family photo. I bet you have a lot of fun being together. I see a lot of talent there. Congratulations.
Wow – I bet you also have some fun family times together. Thank you Margeret! ~Kristie
What a beautiful story!! What a commitment!! What a family!!!What an artist!!!
May God bless you all!!
Thank you for sharing.
From another fellow artist in Vancouver Canada!!
Thank you Golfo – up in God’s country (Canada:-) ~Kristie
A beautiful story!! A big a commitment!! Beautiful a family!!! An amazing artist!!!
May God bless you all!!
Thank you for sharing.
From another fellow artist in Vancouver Canada!!
Thank you so much for writing this. It was easy to connect to. I am the artist at almost 60 and my husband is the spouse of an artist. It really helped me to read from your perspective and appreciate my husbands support even more.
That is sweet Kathy! Those creative juices instill a youthful effect I believe – so you just keep on painting! ~Kristie
What a lovely commentary about your marriage. Thank you the sharing your thoughts and feelings with us . You are truly a blessed couple.
Thank you JoAnne! ~Kristie
Love this! Beautifully written Kristie. I have always admired and been inspired by you both
Erin – you have no idea how many times I think of you through the week. I miss you. It’s not very often when I find someone around here who can connect with me:-) Enjoy your adorable family up there in God’s country! ~Kristie
Thank you for your support of Bill which, in turn, allows us (especially us newbies to art) To learn from him.
And I want to thank you for helping me to realize my MAJOR stumbling block! My husband, Glenn, and I have been married 52 1/2 years, have 4 children, 4 children-in-law, 8 grandchildren and 1 grandson-in-law. All these years (19 of which I was a stay-at-home Mom), I have been the organizer, the calendar keeper, the bill payer and the chief cook & bottle washer and I don’t know how to let go of all that. Oh, what I would give to have painting become my main activity every day!!! I just started painting about 2 1/2 years ago and am quickly falling in love with it…..and Glenn is in full support! We are clearing out the office (spare bedroom) to set up a studio for me. And, yes, I DID forget to eat lunch one day last summer when I was painting a 2′ X 2′ abstract/impressionistic cow for our granddaughter as a wedding gift. I have never before forgotten to eat a meal….what a delight! Glenn said I was enjoying myself so much he didn’t want to bother me. Now, if I could just let go if the guilt of not doing ‘other things’ so I could paint, paint, and paint some more!!! Kristie, thank you so much for the blog….it helped me understand my thinking; now on to my ‘doing’. Bill is so blessed to have you as a spouse and I am so blessed to have Glenn as a spouse because he is so supportive in trying to get me to give more time to my newly discovered desire!!!
It will be a few weeks before the home studio is up & running but I am looking forward to becoming a better artist with Bill’s help!
Way to go Cindy! I’m excited for this part of your life’s journey, you have definitely earned it. And good job Glenn for the support, that really is the key. ~Kristie
The love in your family glows brightly!
Thank you Dianne, we are blessed! ~Kristie
What a beautiful testament to loving,and living with open and generous hearts
That is very sweet Patricia! Thank you! ~Kristie
What a lovely article!!!..God bless you and family.
Thank you Maria! ~Kristie
Beautiful recount of lives lived purposefully and with so much love and caring and understanding!
Thank you Diane! ~Kristie
I so enjoyed reading about your beautiful and loving relationship. To be an artist and have family support is a true blessing from God. Thank you for sharing your many discoveries of what it means to be married to a working artist. You both are super. God knew what He was doing when he brought you two together. May your lives together continue to be blessed.
Thank you Karen. I guess God knows what he is doing:-) ~Kristie
What a wonderful story. You are so fortunate to find Bill and have the life you have. God always knows what is best for us!!. I love Bill’s art and hope to learn from him!!
Thank you Grace, I agree with you – I am very lucky. Kristie
Kristie, thank you for writing this. I am married to an Illustrator/Artist and you have hit the nail on the head as they say. I got a chuckle from the driving. Many times I have noticed Wes looking off into the distance and praying that we do not go off of the road. He sees a painting in every landscape or notices colors or the way the sun hits a building or a tree. I am lucky to also have a wonderful sensitive humble man and help support him in every way I can. Thank you so much for a wonderful heartfelt article. It is nice to know that there are more people out there that understand.
Way to go Nancy! You are so much more to him than you’ll ever know!
Thank you so much for being so open and honest about what it’s like to be the wife of an artist. I am also a wife of an amazing artist and it is such a challenge to help support him while balancing family/ 3 little kids and my own life. A LOT of sacrifice goes into great art. And a lot of times it is not seen or talked about so it was really nice to read your story. Your words are so encouraging and full of love. Thank you and God bless your heart! 🙂
Thank you so much for sharing this. I read it out loud to my husband, because in our household I am the artist. And I wanted him to know he was not alone trying to get me to come down from the studio for lunch and dinner he prepairs for me only to find out I cant come because I am in the middle of an intrigate partt, or that I just mixed paint and dont want it to dry out because it is so hard to get the exact color again etc etc. I paint basicly from 10 to 10 and sometimes longer, My poor husband often is alone, because I am always upstairs, but he is gracius, and understanding he gives constructive critique and beams with pride when showing my work. We artist need people like you and him and thank God for the blessings he bestowes on us.
Wonderful Yvonne! Maybe someday we spouses of artists will start a support group:-) ~Kristie
I just suffer with my husband not only is he a musician but he is also insane. He can be in the studio from 5 am until up to 9 pm and beyond. It isn’t soundproofed so I hear vocal after vocal take, endless guitar parts repeated endlessly and in the five years we have been together this 7 day a week work mentality has been fruitless. Countless songs written and then recorded but no finished product. It’s all in vain! If I so much as disturb him because any time spent away from the studio is a disturbance in his opinion, then I am made to feel like someone completely unworthy of his time and attention.
My artist spouse is sane, but works 70 plus hours a week. every day, every night. Brings in no money. I am sorry your husband is “insane.” That must be particularly hard. Hopefully someone is making an income. Everyone is worthy of respect, compassion and care.
He is so lucky to have you. I wish all artists could have someone as understanding and supportive as you by their side.
Wonderfully written and insightful blog. My husband Alan has been my best friend, my first line person for art critique, and most of all my greatest support when I need to hear you are doing good and getting better. I am my harshest critic. It’s a joy to see such a supportive faith based couple who model values along with learning. Thank you.
What a perfectly beautiful tribute, Kristie, to the love you and Bill are so fortunate to share.
What a beautiful tribute to marriage and faith. Thank you for sharing.
Very inspiring! I can see why you make such a great team!
Is anyone married to an artist that works 60+ hours a week (what I would consider a “workaholic”) and does not contribute to the family’s income stream? I have had this situation for about 8 years. One day I guess my wife will be famous, but in the meantime it is a bit difficult.
What a beautiful article! I can tell you are a special couple. It is very apparent that you both love each other and respect each other very much! May God continue to bless you both! Merry Christmas!
Why Bill!!! You had hair back in the day! You handsome dog you! ;o))