You can’t make a living as an artist

You can’t make a living as an artist.

That was the refrain that we heard, growing up and making decisions about what school to go to and what to study in the 80’s.

Because the starving artist was so engrained in everyone’s mindset.

So we went to study a “real career”, that was unsatisfying, only to find out that yes, you can totally make a living as an artist.

Not only am I doing it as writer, but my son is doing it as classical musician. There are two professional orchestras in Sydney. He has gigs with both of them. And he just got a job teaching students at a private school.

His university (Sydney Conservatorium, attached to Sydney University) is very low-key. Basically, his degree is a four-year excuse to practice lots and to meet lots of people.

My daughter’s degree in Physiotherapy was highly prescriptive. At the end, she got accreditation and there were prescribed jobs she could apply for. Not much creativity required.

My son has had to make his own career. He’s played in almost every amateur band or orchestra in this area, often paying membership fees. He’s helped out for free many times before he started getting paid gigs. He got those gigs only because *he* went out and looked for them, and he went to as many auditions as possible, and learned new things where that was necessary (like, play the oboe). There is NO prescribed career path in his field and *everything* has to come from the student.

The student who succeeds is the one who doesn’t give up. It’s the one who is competent, but who comes on time and does the work. Yo, you may be brilliant, but if you’re a shit to work with and you are often late, forgeddaboutid.

And you know, that’s like writing. And other types of freelancing. All the drive has to come from YOU.

It seems to me that there was a whole generation who took a much more passive approach to employment. You worked for da man, and da man looked after you until you retired. That was the reality they knew. So they told us no, you can’t make a living from art. Because no one is going to pay for it.

Thing is, art is much more than the stuff we see hanging in galleries, and people spend more on art every day. Art in various forms is everywhere–the written word, audio-visual, music, web design, books, leaflets, furniture, street signs, tv, radio, clothing, the list goes on and on.

Of course you can make a living doing art, but you have to go out and find your own career, because no one is going to tell you how to do it.


Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 16 (final). Joshua Tree National Park

This is going to be the last post in this series.

We went from Indian Canyon to Joshua Tree. Our hotel was in between those two, on the loooooong and very straight road that link the two and crosses the freeway at the ginormous wind farm (windmills still not doing anything). It was quite warm in Palm Springs. Seriously, I don’t get why people live there. The place must be hell in summer. Joshua Tree, being much higher, was quite cool, jumper-worthy.

The park is named after the funky Joshua Trees that grow everywhere and frankly look ridiculous. The iconic site is Skull Rock. It’s actually really hard to get a good picture of it, because people keep standing in front of it.

But more interestingly, the place is full of squirrels! And chipmunks! We also saw a coyote but didn’t get a picture of it.








We flew our of LA the next day. As I’ve already said elsewhere, I don’t like LA for any reason other than that some friends live there, so we had some coffee at the Griffith Observatory looking down on the disgusting brown soup that passes for air, and then I braved driving over Hollywood Boulevard after which I told Siri to take us to the airport, which she did… through a LOT of back roads and “very interesting” suburbs, because apparently there was some sort of traffic jam on the freeway.

So we made it, over 2500km, four states, without mishaps, accidents, flat tyres or even without once accidentally taking off on the wrong side of the road. Although I did wipe the windscreen when I was meant to indicate a LOT. But then that’s OK, because many Americans never use indicators anyway LOL.

Patty’s Epic Trip to the US. Part 14. Sedona, Jerome and Prescott

On the move again.

We visited lookout at the chapel on the hill (Chapel of the Holy Cross) in Sedona. Wonder who lives in that crazy house down there.

We came through the creepiest-ever place called Jerome. The building with the red window frames was actually a brothel. I think it was a mining town. It’s very weird, and very creepy.

Then to Prescott. Some pretty pictures of the dam. If that looks like Lindsay Buroker in the bottom picture, you may be right.

We did this podcast live surrounded by dogs.








Patty’s Epic Trip to the US. Part 12. Sedona Day 2

We started with a walk the next morning. It ended up a bit longer than we intended because there were so many different paths.

Walking around Sedona is awesome. I can see how miserably hot it will get in summer, though.

We were staying in a suburb called Oak Creek (where we discovered the most awesome Thai restaurant!) and we could walk to this walking trail from our accommodation. It was nice not having to sit in the car for a change, although the local traffic is… interesting, due to the frikken SIZE of the cars and the fact that literally ZERO of the drivers knows where to find the indicators.



This is called Bell Rock.


The local vegetation is really friendly.




We went to have a look at the shops in the afternoon. I don’t know if I have any photos of that, not being a shopper. My daughter was a bit disturbed that several people asked her what her favourite rock was, and she went er… Apparently you’re supposed to have one.

Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 11. Sedona Sunset

I have no idea how I came to want to visit this place. No one outside the US talks much about it. I think I started looking at Google maps and thought the map looked interesting and randomly dropped myself into Google Streetview and went “Whoa!”
Yup. No one outside the US tells their friends that they should go to Sedona, but man, they should.
Crystals and rock shops aside (more about those later), the place is full of walks and awesome views and rocks of all colours and did I mention the rocks? Oh, it has loads of cactuses, interesting town landscaping and a real permanent creek going through it with waterholes and stuff where you can swim. Not in January, though.
What’s there not to like?
So we drove there from the Grand Canyon and spent three days in Sedona. Because there was lots of walking, because it was Not Cold. And because it’s just a cool place. I could live there.
Anyway, when in Sedona, you have to climb the Airport Vortex (a little rocky hump that you can see in the first photo, with all the people on it) and watch the sunset. Warning: if it’s January, it gets a bit nippy.







Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 10. Grand Canyon

We stayed at the Gran Canyon for two days, and walked the entire South Rim trail. There was still a bit of snow around, and quite a lot of people.

It was January. It was a weekday. I seriously don’t want to know what this place is like in summer!







On the first day, we had some lunch at a picnic area. We got back to the car and were putting our things away, when all of a sudden there was a guy next to me with a ginormous camera pointing into the car, jabbering in Russian.

There was a squirrel in the car!


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Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 9. Page

Page is a funny town along the Colorado River.

It’s dry. It’s desolate. There is zero mobile reception. There is not a single tree or blade of grass to bee seen anywhere. There is a disgusting factory at the edge of town.

It’s full of motels, hotels and other forms of accomodation. It has a marina. Yup, we’re in the middle of the desert. The country is red and dry. It looks a bit like Australia, except with no trees, and zero kangaroos.

There are two reasons people come here: because of Lake Powell (a dam, and bloody big one, too) and because of Horseshoe Bend.

We saw a bit of the dam. Not that much, because the road on the north-western side is a toll road and I wasn’t going to pay $25 to go down there late in the afternoon. We went to the eastern side (ignoring the pay booths–seriously, what is it with charging for everything?). We’d also come past Antelope Gorge and passed on the $50-for-an-hour tour, because we’d done a tour at Monument Valley which was half a day for just a bit more, and we’d reached peak annoyance with tourist milking.

We walked across the dam at the road. We went to the lookout on the other side. We decamped to Denny’s, and we went to Walmart. The latter two were tick boxes on my daughter’s wish list. They even sell wine at supermarkets! Whoop-de-doo!



The funny thing is that, having returned home, I realise that I see Lake Powell every day. At the gym, they have this ever-looping video that shows people doing funky things with tightropes over water and throwing frisbees at people in speed boats from tall cliffs that’s taken at Lake Powell. You can see the marina in the background.

The next morning, it was off to Horseshoe Bend, where there were a lot of ridiculous tourists taking ridiculous selfies from ridiculously unsafe positions. I couldn’t stand the idea of watching someone fall to their deaths, so after a quick stop, we were off to the Grand Canyon.



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Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 7. Indian Monument and Monument Valley

After Bryce Canyon, we were up for a big drive, from Bryce Canyon to Monument Valley, slightly complicated by the fact that up until now, the directions had either been clear or we’d used Google Maps.


No reception.

AAAARRGGH. Technology.

So we’re at this big intersection, and the option is left or right. Which way to go? No idea. I looked it up on the map the previous night, but can’t remember. I’d have expected there to be signs to the, y’know, major tourist attractions in the area.

So we went into a petrol station. It’s that way, the attendant said. By the way, what’s up with the fact that you have to pay for your petrol before you can get any. Yeah, I understand, but our non-US credit cards don’t work in the machines, so we have to go inside, give them twenty bucks, then get the petrol and then go back inside to get the change. What a nuisance.

OK, back on the road, and we spot this sign “Indian Monument” and get a spidey sense. Maybe that’s what they’ve directed us to. So we decide to have a look. Surely there will be a map or someone to ask.

There was. And what was more, there was a gorgeous little walk to a lookout where you can see a cave where people used to live.



And after all that, we finally made it to Monument Valley.






We booked a 4WD tour and would be looking at those wonderful rocks the next day.

Patty’s Epic Trip to the US. Part 6. Bryce Canyon

We stayed in Ruby’s Inn at Bryce Canyon National Park for two nights. Being January, there was almost no one in the entire hotel, and OMG, it was cold.

We walked the entire rim trail, and took hundreds of photographs of the snow and the weird rock formations below.

The deer were curious, but despite many signs not to feel them, didn’t come close.







Patty’s Epic Trip To The US. Part 5. Zion to Bryce Canyon

When you’re in Zion National Park, there is a road that takes a steep, hairpin-riddled shortcut up to the top of the rocky platform and you can drive from there through farmland and forest to Bryce Canyon.

The road gets quite busy in summer, I’ve been told, but in January, it was almost deserted. There is some truly stunning scenery along the way.



That’s the faithful (and by now very dirty) silver Corolla. Isn’t that scenery awesome?


Being Australian, my daughter had a good ol’ time with the concept “frozen water”.


Really stunning scenery.


Yes, it was coooooold up there.


I think this is called Red Canyon, still a way from Bryce Canyon, but you can see what’s coming up next!