Languages › English as a Second Language What Makes an Artist an Artist? Learn Idioms in Context Share Flipboard Email Print Betsie Van Der Meer / Getty Images English as a Second Language Vocabulary Basic Conversations for English Language Learners Pronunciation & Conversation Writing Skills Reading Comprehension Grammar Business English Resources for Teachers By Kenneth Beare English as a Second Language (ESL) Expert TESOL Diploma, Trinity College London M.A., Music Performance, Cologne University of Music B.A., Vocal Performance, Eastman School of Music Kenneth Beare is an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher and course developer with over three decades of teaching experience. our editorial process Kenneth Beare Updated November 24, 2019 There are 17 idioms below, used in context in a story, that help describe the personality and character traits of many artists. Try reading one time to understand the gist without looking at the meanings of the sayings. On your second reading, use the definitions to help you understand the text and learn these new idioms. Finally, take the quiz after reading to practice using some of these expressions. The Artist What makes an artist? While there's no easy answer, there are certain characteristics that many artists and creative people seem to share. First, artists come from all walks of life. They may have been born rich or poor, but they are all dedicated to realizing what only they can see in their minds' eyes. Another common trait of artists is that they do things by their own lights. In fact, for many of them, creating art is do or die. Artists challenge us with their vision. They'd never slap something together that just looks pretty, and when they lose themselves in a new creation, you might not see them for several weeks. You'll often drop by to check up on how they are doing, and you'll discover that their apartment is anything but spick and span. It's no wonder, because they've sunk their teeth into their latest work and completely lost track of time. Housework is certainly the last thing they're thinking about! Of course, this lifestyle often means that they can barely make ends meet. Jobs are few and far between and money comes in dribs and drabs. This is true even for up and coming superstars whose reputation is growing by leaps and bounds. Finally, artists see art as an end in itself. It's not about the money to them. They're different from normal people who stick to the straight and narrow. Instead, they take the road less traveled. Idiom and Expression Definitions break new ground innovate or create something new your own lights your personal way, style, or inspiration, rather than that of others do or die absolutely necessary dribs and drabs very small or slow amounts drop by visit end in itself goal desired for its own sake or no greater purpose leaps and bounds very large amounts of rapid progress lose yourself become so involved that you don't notice anything else make ends meet manage your resources sufficiently for your needs mind's eye imagination, memory, or visualized thoughts road less traveled an unconventional path, a choice that leads in a different direction than most people go sink your teeth into become intensely involved, with one's utmost concentration, energy, determination, or enthusiasm slap together make hastily, without much care to detail spick and span extremely clean straight and narrow proper best behavior up and coming soon to be famous, established, noticed, or successful walks of life backgrounds, places, lifestyles, classes, experiences, professions, or statuses Idiom and Expression Quiz Unfortunately, money is very tight at the moment. I don't have a steady job so funds come in by __________ and __________.Our son is very good at the piano. In fact, he's improving by __________ and __________.It's important that your house is _________ and __________ if you want to sell it.Peter is an _________ and __________ musician. He'll soon be famous.Please be quiet and keep to the __________ and __________. I don't want to be bothered.I'm afraid I can't follow your suggestion. I prefer to paint according to my __________ __________.Can you visualize that picture in your __________ __________?I'd love to __________ my __________ __________ a new project.I think this fresh perspective ________ __________ __________ in the art world. It's completely different from anything before.Students attending the academy come from all __________ of __________. You'll find people from all over the world with different backgrounds. 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