THE IMAGE SHOWS a would-be artist trying to make his art do what it can’t. The painting is of that guy, with paintings as wings flapping impotently, hesitating before a leap of little faith off the rails of his ground floor front steps to the lawn not far below.

This metaphor represents a pre-failure state of being. It does not show the reality of what he went through with the actual art, work, love confabulation. That would not be as funny.

It’s important to define your terms so I will: Work means a career, a life-long pursuit of a single vocation, and as ever new technology and cyclical economics change things, it’s rarely done within a single job. Love is the declaration and pursuit of permanence in a monogamous and physically intimate relationship. And art, for the purposes of this post, is a vocation AND a declaration/pursuit. It is about getting what you think and feel into a more concrete form; translating your private language into a public one.

But the big differences at the hearts of these varied activities can cause a lot of grief if you ignores them when making life decisions. Approaching love in a work-like manner i.e. quid pro quo or work with love’s irrational impetuousness will end in failure.

And art? Most folks do well enough in work and love not to need it. But for arty types who don’t do so well in work and love pasting over their failures there with successes in art is tried; sometimes it even works.

Both bosses and spouses will have different uses for your art than you do. Acknowledging these, then negotiating and accepting a compromise satisfactory to both parties is the best you can do—without going “full Vincent,” anyway. But if impossible, or just unlikely, promises are made with the intention—consciously or not—to merely delay a conflict, the art/work or art/love mash-ups will end badly.