Sometimes it feels as if everything has derailed. Our personal hopes and dreams are eclipsed by larger dangers and catastrophes. Worries pop up from beneath our feet and the path we charted is now so steep it's impossible to move forward. For the creative personality, these fears can stop us dead in our tracks. But it doesn't have to be this way.
We can take out an Equity Stake in ourselves.
Why not take advantage in the economic slowdown to slow down our own mad dash forward? Revisit a few old paintings that haven't sold and see if you can improve them. Find an artist you admire and spend as long as it takes to learn three new insights about their work. Buy those little 6 x 8 or 8 x 10 canvas panels and paint one every day, even if you never thought of yourself as a Daily Painter. Your skills will improve, and you can put these small works up for sale on sites like Etsy or eBay if you like them.
Continue to market. Yesterday, I joined the Chamber of Commerce. Our town is in the midst of urban renewal with an emphasis on the arts and I think I can contribute. More importantly, I want to contribute.
With Chamber membership comes the list of other members who will be added to my mailing list. With that in mind, I am also looking for a new computer program that will handle my marketing. Excel is fine for some things, but the last time I tried to sort I lost some data and haven't gone back in to correct it.
I am continuing to plan my next postcard mailing, and working out initial brainstorming ideas about a news letter sent out by snail mail. Or maybe an E-book.
I am actually grateful for this period of removed pressure. My work is currently for sale in three venues, and in an exhibition that will close in November. I can allow myself to step back from the self imposed pressure to produce huge bodies of work and assess what I've accomplished so far. I know that my interest in landscape is interpreted both abstractly and realistically. In the area of realism, I can look at my current work and see how much farther I know I can go. If things were selling now at the same pace they were two years ago I wouldn't have realized that the work could be better. I most likely would still be assuming-- as I did then -- that I was near the top of my game.
But the game is ongoing. The silver lining in all this is the confirmation that -- if the artist is to sustain her ability to create art -- the emphasis should be more about the process toward achieving the desired product, and not the end result by any means. As we saw from the AWS post, artists who become too focused on the end product risk several things, among them the inability to adapt to changing public tastes, and the potential for an underlying insecurity that could stop them from creating something that was not dependent upon artificial means.
Artists need to balance both aspects of creating: process and product. There is no career without a product that is marketable. But there is no authentic product without a process based in the artist's own efforts. Your "defining style" comes into being through your willingness to move beyond duplicating the visual work of others. How many times have you looked at an artist's work and thought "just out of art school?" I know I have. And -- in fact -- I have looked at images of work I was selling two years ago and thought -- "eeegaad! I can't believe people bought that!" (Although I am grateful that they did and are still enjoying the pieces.)
But more than anything, the silver lining in this slowdown is the gift of patience. Your art career does not happen over night. You need a 5 year plan just to get your level of craftsmanship up to snuff. To field test your ideas. Like -- how do I hang these panels? Or -- will this process appeal to people? Some experts say it takes a ten to twenty year plan to become self sustaining as an artist. Not much different from a business plan in the real world.
But every plan starts with a single action. And then another. An Equity Stake in your future.
I painted several small paintings.
I joined the Chamber of Commerce.
I started studying the books by Edgar Payne and Sorolla.
I revisited a painting and completely changed a major element.
I like this silver lining.