(Originally published in the Colorado Springs newspaper "The Scribe")
Lorelei Beckstrom has spent the last 10 years as a full-time artist in Colorado Springs, but her journey has been far from easy.
Beckstrom starts her work hours before a typical college student even wakes up; she goes to bed analyzing what she will paint the next day.
In a time where the highest paid jobs require extensive training and education, some people assume art is created through natural expression, and not from a textbook or the development of professional skills.
For example, Jackson Pollock’s “Number 1A,” is an expressionistic splattering of paint on a canvas, which can give the impression anyone could have painted it.
But Beckstrom relies on her specific skill development and rendering ability to gain evident appreciation.
“It’s showing up every day, it’s a job. It’s not a lofty occupation that you pull magic out of your ass,” Beckstrom said.
The idea of an artist as a full-time paid professional returns to the historical definition of an artist.
During a time when painters were the only ones who could immortalize your loved ones on a canvas, people viewed artists as someone who could do what the majority of people could not – similar to how we perceive computer programmers today.
Most people do not know how to program an application, but we all use and admire their work on an hourly basis. Artists in the past received the same respect.
Beckstrom creates her work as intentionally figurative to help the viewer understand the concepts she depicts, but she also allows room for interpretation and interaction for the viewer.
“I want to lead someone in and let them live the story, let them find meaning,” she said.
Her process also includes a formula that she has designed for herself, reinforcing the idea of consistency and simple hard labor.
“I usually begin with a photo-shoot and these are really symbiotic between me and the models,” Beckstrom said.
After hundreds of images are shot, she looks over them and begins painting. She often has no mental image of the finished product.
It’s here that Beckstrom incorporates the necessary skills as a painter to render objects with precision and realistic proportions while leaving an open conceptual space for interpretation.
“Usually I don’t know what a painting’s about until after I painted it,” she said.
Beckstrom said she has never experienced a time where she has no ideas of what to paint. Being a full-time artist now requires constant practice and relentless effort that goes beyond eight-hour workdays.
“It’s a rare occasion when I’m not painting seven days a week,” Beckstrom said.
Beckstrom made the decision at one point in her career to leave financial comfort for her passion.
“I did go to school long enough to be pretty far along for a medical degree (but) I basically got rid of everything, which allows me to paint full time,” she said.
She sold the house that she built with her bare hands, walked away from the yoga studio she owned and began doing what she loved.
This may be difficult for students seeking a career as an artist, but Beckstrom believes it is better this way.
“I’ve been poorer than I’ve ever been, but I feel like I’m richer than I’ve ever been because I’m doing what I want,” she said.
Starting Oct. 24, Beckstrom’s work will be featured in the upcoming exhibit, “Springs Surreal,” at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center.