Artists, Where Did You Learn the Value of Hard Work?

Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the hard work and discipline it takes to create art. From what I’ve heard from readers and what I’ve observed as I’ve interacted with artists, you all are a hard-working group of individuals!

This series of posts has had me thinking a lot about work ethic and the hard work it takes to make a successful career. I’ve reflected on how I learned to work, and I’ve wondered if I’m doing enough to instill a love of hard work in my children.

How I Learned to Work Hard

I am very grateful to my parents for instilling in me a love of hard work. My dad, who is a painter, and my mother, who has worked as his business manager since he first began his career, are two of the hardest working people I know. They have labored tirelessly to build my father’s career since the late 1970s. Their example alone would have given me a great perspective on the value of hard work, but they went much further to teach me firsthand the value of work.

From a very early age, I remember my mother giving me and my siblings responsibilities around the house. We learned how to clean and help cook. We were expected to do well in school without being hounded to finish our homework.

My family on a recent pilgrimage to the dome home

Around 1979, my parent began building a geodesic dome in Southern Idaho. This dome was to serve as our futuristic, highly-efficient home. Dad was a bit of a visionary and loved Buckminster Fuller’s vision for the future of architecture. Dad believed he could use some innovative materials, build the house by hand himself, and create an amazingly artistic home in less than a year. Well, it’s now been almost forty years since he started building the dome home, and it’s still not finished!

It took almost ten years to complete it to a point that we could move into it, but the interior is still pretty rough. To be fair, in addition to the technical aspects of building this house, my parents had a lot going on in their lives. The were working to secure Dad’s reputation in the art world and to make a living selling Dad’s art, and they were busy raising a huge family – I’m the oldest of my parent’s nine children! Eventually my parents bought a home in Arizona, where they spend most of their time now, and the dome became a kind of crazy cabin where they spend their summers.

The interior of the dome – still not quite finished . . .

While the building project was a bit ill-fated from the start, building the dome gave me countless opportunities to do hard, physical labor. I remember digging trenches with a pickaxe and shovel, I mixed concrete, I carried tons of cinder blocks, and I drove hundreds of nails. I watched the structure rise from the ground and saw how my work impacted the progress of the building project. I remember some blisters and muscle aches, but I also remember feeling proud of the adult-like work I was doing.

As a teenager, I also joined the family art business. My father taught me how to build stretcher frames and how to stretch his custom canvases. I learned how to use a miter saw and the importance of quality control. I thought it was pretty cool that my handiwork was ending up in the homes of art collectors. Dad paid me for each canvas I built, and by managing the money I earned, I learned the importance of saving and thrift.

I don’t want to make my childhood sound too idyllic – there were a lot of challenges along the way (as you know if you’ve read my memoir), but I have no doubt that my parents did a great job of preparing me to face the world and to embrace hard work.

Parents Play a Big Role In Teaching the Value of Work, but So Can Others

As I’ve reached out to readers to ask where they learned to work, I’ve come to see that my experience was far from unique. Parents obviously play a big role in the development of work ethic, along with other important role models. Here are some insights from artists who responded to the question “Where did you learn the value of hard work?”


That is an easy one – from my father and his work ethic. How did my father teach me work ethic? He had me drive the old Chevy truck down the hill in compound gear while they loaded the hay. When I could not reach the pedals and had to turn the truck off to stop it. He had me drive nails and fix things that would have been easier to do by himself. He did not yell at me when I dug a duck pond and accidentally drowned one of the sheep, just took me to a better place in the pasture and had me dig a new one there. He took me on long rides in the mountains, and complimented me on the things I did and made. He did not care what my grades were in school IF I had done my best.

Dale Ashcroft, Cache Valley, UT

I never shunned hard work. As a child, grew up on a farm with six siblings.  We all had chores to do, and there wasn’t any, “I don’t want to”.  After marriage at an early age to a Military Man, moved so many times, three daughters, many times he was overseas while I was the only had to be done.  When I started college after all three were in school, I went for Art Education as a way for me to earn a living,  if anything happened to my husband…and because I have always loved doing, seeing Art.
Yes, doing Art is hard work, but it is so satisfying and I love it!
Patricia Pope, Orlando Florida


My grandparents and parents set a very fine example of hard work, which they instilled in me at an early age, they also taught me to give 1000% to anything I am involved with, not room for slacking.

Joseph Marion, Santa Fe, NM


Throughout my life I have worked on projects and initiatives in the community that created opportunities for people to improve their lives. What I learnt from that is that if I love doing something it is not hard work. The hard work for me is getting to do the work, once I am creating or teaching it ceases to be work for me. I get frustrated and get things wrong but love the challenge of making it ‘right’. I get lost in the creative process and seeing something come into being that was not there before. What a privilege to be able to do that, to have the courage and commitment to create something and ‘put it out there’ and hope it has some good influence on those who receive or are in proximity to it. Of course I had to learn how to quilt and paint and went through some tough times to learn the basics but once I had those down the world of creativity opened up for me. Hard work for me is having to do things that don’t enable me to feel I am creating something of value. Art is not hard work once I get to it. My sister bought me a wonderful canvas for my birthday that says ‘Do more of what makes you sparkle’. Creating makes me sparkle.

Chrissie Hawkes, Cambridge, UK


As to the value of hard work, as a young man in collage I was a member of the schools rifle team. I held national records, won a national championship, and was named to the collegiate All American rifle team. Those achievements took an enormous amount of hard work and discipline. I believe that if you want to be the the best at anything, it has to be your passion and you have to work harder than anyone else.

Bob Hays


It was never a question of “IF” my father would go to work. He was a very dedicated employee. On weekends both my parents worked on a ski resort. When the resort was closed, they still went and worked helping build, clear brush, whatever was needed. I learned that if someone needed help, you just pitched in in any way you could. I don’t have any memories of my father complaining.

Vicki Gough, Hesston, KS


I grew up is rural eastern North Carolina. Both my parents had working class jobs. We were not affluent but they made ends meet. At 16 I worked in the tobacco fields in the summer. I was a store clerk at a discount store while in high school. I apply the work ethic I learned then to my art.

Rick Bennet

How Did You Learn the Value of Work?

Where did you learn to work hard? What experiences in your life prepared you for the work you do as an artist? What did your parents teach you about work? How did you teach your children the value of work? Share your thoughts, comments, and experiences below.

About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of, and founder of the Art Business Academy. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business.


  1. I remember from a very early age loving to work—especially entrepreneurially. I had a lawn mowing business at 11 and a paper route and also reclaimed and sold golf balls back to golfers during the summer (amongst many other early biz adventures). My home wasn’t the happiest so earning my own money gave me a great sense of fulfillment and gave me much needed independence. Both my Mom and Dad were hard workers so they showed me through their example , too. I continue to work really hard on both my freelance photography business and my art business.

  2. Hard work? My mum. Dad as well. And stepdad.
    Mum was learning to paint. Landscapes in oil. Pets in pastels. She knew how to scrub a house from top to bottom. My dad tied flies for fishing. It is meticulous and creative. Stepdad was a composer. So long hours at the piano, slow working out the different voices of the instruments and how they wove together.

  3. I don’t know.
    I was surrounded by family that were always working.
    We grew up on the farm. We were never pressed into much service as kids
    Somehow, a responsible work ethic was instilled as was the idea that one helped out their neighbors.
    Another characteristic was a commitment to one’s word. Every adult I knew did what they said they would do. It was imperative that the resultant actions follow the letter of the word uttered.
    To my great dismay, this remains a partially learned lesson with inconsistent results, try as I might.
    I was given leeway to develop ideas and talents. All that was asked in return was that if I set to work, that I complete it.
    Both parents had had major right-angle turns in their lives that changed their path forever. Dreams evaporated in the Depression and later in World War 2.
    When I changed colleges, my mom took me aside and told me that there was only enough money for four years. One was gone which meant I had to make up a year’s financing and do it while also going to school.
    It was hard work.but I had lived with the examples of how it was to be done.

  4. My parents from the Greatest Generation gave me a sense of doing work and doing it well. Being committed to a job or a way of doing things with did not come naturally to me as I was always in a hurry. But I began to see more and more the example by my hardworking parents and grandparents the value of doing everything as best I could. I still fight my lazy side but I do what needs to be done in the best way possible. My late husband was a hard worker and both of my sons are also.

  5. My parents, grandparents, and what I remember of my great grandparents, kept me working hard. It started very young. “You get up and go to school.” “You do your best to be the best!” “You take care of your pets and keep them happy.” Well, it carries on and on. “Make me proud of you!” My grandparents were over achievers being in politics and community service. (My husbands grandparents and parents, too!) My parents were also hard workers, too, and, as a funny/serious thought, my parents went to work everyday even if they had a hangover! “Hard work makes you successful!” It had gotten to be such a Mantra for me that I had to follow up…and it had to be done very well– all my life! When I failed it was devastating. But, I still work very hard, remembering the little kid that heard it everyday. ( It can also be a BIG problem for some of us… )

  6. Once upon a time, a love-child was born… I was the youngest of five, with two half-brothers and two half-sisters, who were all foaming at the mouth to be top dog in our single mom household. Mom was a performing artist, singer and musician. My dad was a traveling jazz pianist who wasn’t around much and eventually moved to the mountains. Adversity seemed to be the welcoming challenge from the moment I was born.
    What helped me survive the overwhelming environment of older, self righteous siblings, and mom going crazy, was living on a ranch with many animals. I learned very quickly how to care for horses and exotic pets and the positive impact hard work had on the people around me. Mom was doing her very best, yet she struggled to make ends meet just to keep a roof over our heads.
    So, I cooked, cleaned and cared for the horses and various animals. Such as, goats, pigs, chickens, wild turkeys, cats, rats, dogs, rabbits, a donkey… even a pet monkey named Willie joined the family for a short time. I really think my mom believed she was Mrs. Doolittle!
    Everyday, I would climb our huge pine tree next to the house to access the roof where I could escape the mayhem, hoping no one would ever find me. It was there where I found solitude and love for drawing in my sketch book… either that, or repel Barbie down the chimney!
    However, my older sister, Kit, became my mentor. She was a loving, kind person who adored swimming and photography. She taught me everything about 35mm and medium format cameras. She also helped me work hard on becoming an avid swimmer. Which later in life, helped me excel in ocean water sports.

    By the time I was a teenager, I started to freelance as a portrait artist, either drawing or taking photos of people and animals. Which eventually steered me into wedding photography.
    Although I studied painting and photography in college, photography at the time seemed to be the more lucrative career choice. In due time, Kit and I were shooting weddings together and doing really well.
    Though, deep down, my true calling was to be a painter. So, after 20+ years and wedding burn-out, I decided to pursue fine art painting. That’s when I discovered Jason’s Red Dot Blog, Xanadu Art Gallery and the Art biz academy.
    The rest is history!

  7. In summary to what I wrote above, hard work pays off! Not necessarily in terms of money. I am talking about the solid relationships that hard work enabled me to build over the years which led me to where I am today. Integrity, commitment and perseverance have also become the foundational values that carved a way through the messy twists and turns along the path.
    I was a bit of a late bloomer too and lucky to finally meet the love of my life, Mike, and his two young kids later in life. There is no easy button when it comes to being the outsider to a new relationships. But because of all that hard work I did on my self growth and care for animals put me in the perfect position to give back to kids in need of a mentor.
    Day by day, sometimes a door slammed in my face, we worked through our challenges and came out the other side with a ton of respect, love and admiration for one another. Apart from a great school and healthy peer groups, Mike’s kids are now enthusiastic, successful college students.
    So, it just comes to show that hard work will pay off in numerous ways. Ones that are far more interesting than just making a good income.
    Hard work gives me great pleasure, confidence to get the job done and fulfillment in what I do for a living.

  8. When i was a teenager of 13 I went to work on the local farms bringing in the hay working from dawn to dusk and moving from farm to farm. The farmers helped one another and they hired teens to help stack the hay on farm wagons and bring it in and unload it in the barn. It was strenuous hot work but i enjoyed the camaraderie between the farmers and learning to operate tractors and machinery on the farms. They fed us well and treated us equally and i loved it. I did that for three years turning the money over to my mother to buy food since my dad wasn’t around. It was a good way to grow up and appreciate hard work that strengthened me and gave me responsibility.

    1. I would say from my mother. She went back for secretarial school to keep us afloat. When she remarried, my stepfather would get up at the Crack of 5 am to work on writing music. He also put in a lot of hours, with mum, landscaping around the house. They put In some steps down to the creek. Mum was a landscape artist.

  9. Growing up the oldest of five in a home that my parents never took vacation simply due to the fact Dad ran two laundries and a gas station while filling oil in the winter on his route to residence that needed it for heat. Early, Dad had me wiping machines or collecting coins (then counting, rolling it after church Sunday). Mom worked hard to keep the home smooth and Dad peaceful. We were expected to do our best at school and it was my joy to have the structure of the nuns. It was predictable and I loved to read and create. It was a very proud time when I saved enough from my paper route to buy a bicycle.
    Hard work feels good. I had to save for college and my car. Yes, it was not like my peers as my Father did not endorse higher education. My guess is he felt we could be making money during that time as we did after high school.
    I’m grateful for earning my way and I believe it helped my sons come to understand the benefits of hard work. However, they did have chores, but plenty fine vacations too. College was their choice but hard work is a gift to equip us to love that which we pour ourselves into. After a corporate career, it was my time to be the creative. Now, I love oil painting especially plein air regardless of the effort. It’s a way to express gratitude of the beautiful nature on my canvas. Thank you Jason

  10. Where did I learn the value of hard work? This is a difficult question for me to answer because I learned it so early that it just always seemed to be part of my existence – so I suppose I must have learned it from my parents, but I’m not sure exactly what the process was – I started school when I was 4, then went to an especially competitive elementary school where everyone attending did Kindergarten and 1st grade together in one year; then i went to a junior high school where we did 3 grades in two years; then i went to an ultra-competitive high-school where grade averages were computed to 2 decimal places – they had to be because there were so many high achieving gifted students there that an 85 average was in the bottom half of the class. In my family, we (my brother and I) were just expected to excel, we never considered that there was any other possible alternative. I graduated from my high school at 16 with a 95.23 average – I was very high in the graduation rankings (23 out of 760, but still not really in striking range of the top – the valedictorian had a 97.65 average) – MIT pre-empted all the other colleges I applied to by accepting me 2 weeks after applying, offering me a scholarship, and informing all the other schools I applied to that they had done so. It was clear to me during all this time that achievement occurred because of hard work.

    I think Einstein said it best – “Success is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration!” My dad had an expression he loved to say – when a person implied what that someone else’s achievement really wasn’t that hard all – he would challenge them right there on the spot – “Yeah its all easy with the mouth – let’s see you actually do it. You can start right now – give me a call when you’ve finished – I’ll be right over with the champagne”

    And yet— the enticing and alluring fantasy exists that one could possibly be so good at something that you could have great achievement just spring out from you, god-like, without seemingly much effort and strain at all – if you’ve seen the movie or play of Amadeus, you know this is how Salieri is depicted thinking about Mozart. But most assuredly, this is an illusion, the devil’s temptation, because even the world’s greatest geniuses worked constantly and with extreme dedication to achieve what they did – Mozart may have partied the night away – but then he came home and started to work, and I mean really work – he started writing music at 6 and died at 35 – so he was writing music for 29 years. In that time he wrote 22 operas, 41 symphonies and 600 pieces of music total – so 20 musical compositions a year including 1.5 symphonies, and about 3/4 of an opera. He didn’t achieve this by not working really hard and really long no matter how brilliant he was [this is just his composing – he spent a lot of time performing his works too!] [and he was Mozart – there’s no one around anywhere who won’t insist that he was one of the greatest of all geniuses – so it’s obvious – if you’re not Mozart you’re going to have to work even harder for that achievement]

  11. Hard work was what you did. Raised on a dairy farm you were expected to work. In fact so much so that if you got caught relaxing before 8:00 p.m. it was bad. If you had time to sit you should be pulling weeds. Make sure you’re up and dressed before Dad came in from morning milking for breakfast. Don’t be involved with any outside school activity because that’s a waste of time and the list goes on… At 61, I still jump if I’m sitting not doing anything and my husband walks in the door. He always reminds me that it’s normal to relax and do nothing once in a while. I also have places to sit everywhere outside just to remind me to relax and enjoy the beauty around me and that weed over there isn’t going anywhere. Hard work ethics are wonderful and it’s hard to find them in this day and age. But for those of us who were raise workaholics, remind yourself to slow down and enjoy life before it’s too late and you no longer can.

  12. I thought that I had learned a good work ethic from creating art throughout my life, from learning a musical instrument, doing French language study and from my seamstress skills. If something wasn’t perfect, I would simply start over. It didn’t matter how many times or what the material costs. I fully believed in the quote that being able to do something perfectly was not an indicator of success. It was about doing that thing perfectly every single time. Nothing, however, prepared me for the rigors of 30 credit hours of Japanese language study and for sumi-e. After work, I would head to my Japanese language class which lasted until 9 pm. Then, I would come home and, with a magnifying glass, study kanji and count stroke number and order until 2 or 3:00 a.m., forming little kanji in my graph paper boxes. I’d get a few hours of sleep and get back up and go to work again. In the meantime, on the weekends, I was learning sumi-e from a Chinese artist who taught Chinese and Japanese painting. We began with the plum, one of the Four Gentlemen. Every single weekend, for four hours, I “attempted” to paint plum branches and blossoms. This included grinding my own ink. I did this for a year and a half before I satisfied her standards and was was allowed to progress to another gentleman, the bamboo. I have stacks and stacks of rice paper filled with flowering plum branches. Other commitments kept me from ever painting the orchid and chrysanthemum otherwise, to this day, I might still be sitting at her kitchen table. I learned that nothing, absolutely NOTHING, compares to Asian tenacity, focus and perfection. I gained so much appreciation and respect for this culture. To this day, when I’m not sure if I have what it takes to complete a task, I think back to Japanese language and my ink paintings and I persevere. Gambate!

  13. Military Brat here. My Dad was second generation German-American, he built furniture for us whenever we moved because, while the army moved us, there were still limitations on how much we were able to take with us. When we demonstrated curiosity about how things were put together (we took apart my doll to see how the legs and arms were articulated), he allowed us in to his “shop” and taught us how to use his tools. Planing a rough board, practicing non-team sports and fishing taught us that other needful thing…patience.

    Whenever he was in a war zone, we went to live with our maternal great grandmother in a civilian neighborhood. She was descended from the Amish. She would “suggest” that other oldsters in the neighborhood might need some help with mowing, leaf raking, snow shoveling, and there were appropriate tools just wanting to be used (least they become lonely). Since those neighbors always wanted to pay for such help, we also learned to handle money.

    Dad’s hobbies were furniture building, fishing, tennis, bowling and photography. Mom’s hobby was writing poetry. Both were history nerds. Both “worked” at those hobbies, and both taught us about their hobbies, but let us choose which to pursue.

    Then there were the dinner table conversations. When we were not arguing history and having to prove our points from the reference books in the house, the parents were talking about their work…how they solved this or that problem, how they had to try different solutions, etc, asking each other advice for possible solutions. Now that I’m an adult and have had a TS clearance as both my parents did, I know that many of those discussions between my parents were not about their actual work but were specifically aimed at us kids without making that aim obvious.

    Looking back on it all, the adults in the family were kinda sneaky about teaching us about and how to work. It seldomly seemed that we were told to work, but we were definitely trained to work hard at working, at hobbies, at learning, at helping others.

  14. I don’t know. Both my sister and I are working hard into our late seventies. We didn’t see a lot of it at home, Dad was away on contracts, Mom was a stay at home mom with health issues – but our creative interests were always encouraged. Maybe it’s having to practice our musical instruments! Necessity may be a hard driver, but I think we’re wired that way anyway. The thought of lounging on a beach is a bit foreign to us both.

  15. My father and his dedication to providing for 6 of us singlehandedly under poverty situations. My husband, childhood sweetheart, also raised in an impoverished situation where they raised their own food on a little farmstead. But, I also learned what not to be by watching my mother struggle with prescription drug addiction through my whole childhood. I’m the only child in our family who lived through childhood without her care, and the reason I sunk myself into artwork from a very young age. I turned her in to social services for drug treatment when she became violent towards me when I was 16. She remained clean and is still alive today, but it was during rehab we learned she regretted getting married and having so many kids. We’ve resolved our relationship a long time ago, but I have worked hard not to be like her and to make sure I pursued my dream. Even when I took 20 years off creating artwork to raise my kids (husband was lifetime military) I focused on my comeback and here I am!

  16. The biggest influence was my father for sure. He was a Marine veteran of WWII who fought on Saipan Tarawa and Iwo Jima. He served in the USMC for 37 years and retired as a three-star general. He was still “working” into his 90s and finally had to back off in the last few years of his life. He was an extraordinary person who never told me, “You have to work hard to get ahead in this world”. He knew his example said it all. A few examples of my hard work include earning a BA in Spanish, a Masters in Global Management, and a PhD in Organizational Behavior. I also taught myself Italian to the level of fluency without ever taking a class. I have published three novels so far. Now I am in the last phase of my professional career as an artist/painter.

  17. Hi Jason,
    Thank you for all that you do for the arts! I grew up in Washington State less than forty miles from Canada and Idaho. My father was a wonderful teacher and my mother was a hard-working stay-at-home lady. My first job was at the age of seven picking up foil-wrapped coffee cans of dead flowers at the local cemetery after Memorial Day for a penny a can. At twelve I mowed lawn and clipped at that same cemetery and babysat in the evenings. At sixteen I worked at the local swimming pool and then progressed to working as a waitress until high school graduation. My parents encouraged me with oil painting lessons from the age of twelve to eighteen, and then it was on to Spokane Falls Community College where my major was Visual Merchandising and Display Design. Most of the professors were working artists whose careers I greatly admired. I know that hard work meets opportunity and I will never retire nor do I want to! I raised four high-octane kids and proud that they are good, hard working people and that means more than my career. There is so much more to this story so thank you for letting me share! Kindest Regards, Linda Hyatt Cancel

  18. I learned much of my work ethic from my parents. Although they were divorced when I was young, my mom raised 4 kids, on her own, in the 60’s and 70’s. I don’t remember any talks about the importance of hard work, work ethic, so I can only assume that their examples they set for us were enough to pass along the trait. I’m grateful every day for their example, positive can-do attitudes towards life in general. We didn’t have much then, but we’ve all worked hard all our lives, and our children are following the examples set to this day. I’m most proud of my children. They grew up in the same atmosphere I did…happy, positive, close knit, and with the understanding that “the harder you work, the luckier you get!”

  19. I read these stories and feel like a slug. I had to help at home when I was little, but we didn’t live on a farm and I didn’t have to earn money for the family. I did, however, choose to excel in school so I could one day leave home to seek what I loved…writing, classical music and art. My family encouraged none. No writers, artists or musicians in my house. I had to build it from scratch myself and I did. I learned hard work from me. Eventually started my own well-paid consulting business which my family could not understand, “Now, what is it you do?”
    No, the stories are fine, but I think creatives learn most from ourselves, and our drive to succeed or at least to enjoy our choices. And we work really really hard!

  20. My siblings and I always had chores to do. We fed the animals (pigs, chickens), brought in wood (wood stoves for heating and cooking), did the dishes, etc. We always went to collect wood as a family.
    One of the most memorable things my mom started was assigning cooking responsibilities to each of us kids all summer long. We would plan our menus and be involved in picking out the food when we shopped every other week. We were in charge a couple nights a week and everyone else helped out.
    I didn’t much like all the chores we had as kids, but I do think it taught us how to work hard.

  21. I was the youngest of my single father’s 7 children. Money was very tight and I learned early on never to ask for anything frivolous or unnecessary. Watching how hard my dad worked for his money as a laborer to keep us clothed and food on the table, I took it upon myself to try to help. From about the age 5 I would load up my little red wagon with beautiful boulders I had collected, scrubbed and polished and went door to door in my neighborhood selling rocks for gardens or door stoppers. When that proved to be less than successful (although many kind neighbors did give me a few pennies for my treasured stones) I started saving old magazines and took them on my sales circuit. I didn’t make much but got tremendous satisfaction getting out there everyday to do my very best, just like my dad. That motivation has carried me through my whole life. Doing the best you can, from where you are, with what you’ve got.

  22. I was adopted by my paternal grandparents at 18 months. My grandfather dropped out of school in 5th grade and my grandmother in 7th grade. They didn’t have much and grew most of our food and made most of our clothes. They expected me to do chores Saturday morning before we could play. I was expected to do homework after school when my grandfather would help with math homework. My grandfather was a blacksmith, and I worked in the shop cleaning up on Saturdays after I finished chores. He taught me to weld when I was nine and got me a job in a machine shop then I was in eleventh grade that made sawmill equipment. I cleaned razor sharp turnings covered in tobaco juice out of the lath beds, cleaned toilets, swept floors, and inventoried parts. They eventually taught me to read blueprints, operate heavy machinery, spray paint equipment, mig welding, acetylene cutting, etc. The shop buildings were huge, hanger-like, buildings that were poorly heated in winter by heat lamp 20 ft off the shop floor and lacked air conditioning. I noticed that employees were deaf as posts after 15 years and had lost portions of their fingers after 5 years. I learned a lot that I use in making art today but decided to stay in college where I worked part-time and carried 16-18 quarter hours of classes. After finishing a Ph.D. I spent 25 summers collecting fungi in the Intermountain West collecting during the day and processing specimens in the evening. I drove some 30,000 miles a year, most of it off the highway in very remote areas. All of these experiences required hard work often in inhospitable conditions and inform my art today.

  23. There have been numerous life experiences that taught me about working hard. However, the one experience which really solidified the discipline of hard, concentrated work was woodblock printmaking. Designing, carving and printing technique and process, takes all of one’s discipline and much patience. Over time, it becomes second nature but at the beginning, was quite a challenge and commitment. This experience has widened and really filtered into all parts of my life, as well as, creatively.
    Phyllis Tracy Malinow

  24. Hard work was a way of life for my parents. But so was hard play! Sometimes, the two were interwoven. Both of my parents were hard workers, voracious readers, and loved creating things. Dad worked as an electronics trouble-shooter by day, and made tree sculptures from cast off wires in the evenings and sold them to his co-workers. He also built his own greenhouse and raised prize-winning flowers. I still remember the day he won a ribbon at an American Orchid Society show.
    Mama held down the fort at home, but formed ribbons and other corsage embellishments for a local florist after he saw what she did with Dad’s orchids every Easter. She taught us kids the skills and gave us a small part of her earnings.
    They modeled a mindset that if you want something and can’t afford to buy it new, learn how to make it yourself. THAT has sure come in handy for me as a visual artist.

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