Saturday, 18 June 2011

Email notification of postings

I hope I have got this right now, everyone. Please ignore the invitation to join the Front Room Art Yahoo Group so long. Sheesh - I don't want this social networking to become a full time job! I hope you get the email notification of this posting. Let me know if it is too confusing, complicated or in any other way a pain to follow my blog.

Testing email notifications

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Starting out as an artist

Some months ago I was introduced to the (more or less) weekly newsletter of an American artist, Robert Genn and now really look forward to getting them. His website is in case you want to sign up for the newsletter. I found today's one particularly relevant in the light of my own situation and that of many artists I know who are working at building a fulltime career. It highlights for me the choice we often  find ourselves having to make between commercially viable art and what is meaningful for us. Coming at a time when I am working on something that actually has me dying to get into the studio (I suffer from artist's resistance!) but can by no means be seen as having general public appeal...

I don't find Robert's work particularly profound but he certainly appears to be making a living. I have also recently come to know a delightful retired couple in Pretoria who taught themselves to paint and are for all intents and purposes an "art factory"; churning out landscapes, bowls of flowers and portraits for a constantly hungry art dealer in the Cape. Their work is technically very sound and clearly very pleasing to the public looking for unchallenging art. Nothing wrong with that! And certainly an easier route to sustaining as a fulltime artist.

No final answers from me here, but I have to say that over the years it has become very clear to me that to be a successful fulltime artist requires a businesslike approach that most artists are highly allergic to. Fortunately, I am not one of them; I often think I enjoy the business of art more than the creative process! It certainly comes more easily to me.

One way or the other, I think what Robert has to say is very encouraging and contains some solid advice.

Yesterday, Ryan Foster of Tampa, Florida, wrote, "Between my Bachelor's degree and my Master's I've spent the last 7 years in school. Now that I'm done I feel pressure to get a job (to pay rent), but all I want to do is paint. How do I convince my newly married wife that it's possible to make it as an artist? What were your first couple of years out of school like? How did you get the ball rolling?"

Thanks, Ryan. Great questions--many answers. First, things were just as tough then as they are now. Second, in my case I was not particularly good at a lot of things, but, like you, trying to get good at painting was almost an obsession. Third, I wanted to be independent and self-employed at all costs. Getting a job would have sucked up my energy and signaled defeat. I just knew that I could do better than the crummy paintings that I was doing at the time. While disheartened, I was not the type to give up. Unattached, I was on my own.

After an excellent formal education, I still didn't know what I was doing. I felt I was on the outside looking in. Everybody was doing better than me. In a small rented studio I gave myself six months of concentrated, anti-social energy. I painted like a banshee--over six hundred paintings--anything that crossed my mind. My work seemed to form up and I gradually winnowed my preferences. With a naturally upbeat, non-angst nature and a fondness for peace and tranquility, my work began to show it. This was not calculated--just lucky. Finally desperate, I took my work around to several galleries--got rejected, then barely accepted by one. At the time, my work was just marginally "marketable."

From the very beginning I fought the idea of being a "local artist." I tried very hard to get my work into respectable galleries in other cities, other countries--even at the expense of local markets. Never one to sign contracts, I ran my life like a mutual fund--diversified dealers, varying results.

I was strategic. I planned ahead, penciled in projects. At no time did I ask for grants, nor did I enter contests or competitions. Looking back, my stance of 'simple worker' helped maintain my fragile self-esteem. My life was one of calculated studenthood. Still is. Inevitably, I fell further in love with painting. I so much valued and enjoyed the daily challenge of looking and seeing, contemplating and painting. Still do.

Best regards,


PS: "A wish has been defined as a 'goal with no energy behind it.' Hope is not a strategy." (Brian Tracy)

Esoterica: When I was about thirty-two I came to understand that my mutual fund concept was the right one. Walking to the mailbox one morning I found three separate checks from three separate galleries in three separate cities. I came back down to the house and told my new wife, Carol, that I didn't think money was going to be a problem from now on. And it hasn't.back down to the house and told my new wife, Carol, that I didn't think money was going to be a problem from now on. And it hasn't.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Taking time

Work in progress for "Lit in Tshwane" 3-17 July Upstairs@Bamboo

As I went about my early morning business today, I found myself listing the things that make me feel wealthy. A clean and tidy car was one of them (a clean and tidy anything actually; handbag, kitchen, studio, head...), being warm when it is cold, lovely-smelling soap, giving money to someone. Lots of things that cost nothing or very little. Taking life at a leisurely pace featured very high on the list. Doing one thing at a time, and properly. Not racing to the next thought, task, plan or place. And I am quite proud of the fact that this morning, I am taking the time to post something on my new toy!

For the artist in us all, here are some wonderful words I read in life coach Kirsten Long's ( newsletter today:

It’s important to day-dream, to imagine and to explore possibility in your mind. Every single thing that was created on this earth, started with someone imagining it. If you can’t imagine something, you can’t create it. If you can’t see a possibility, it will never manifest.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

So I thought ...

Thanks to Cecily of Fient Lifestyle Gallery I find myself at 6:00am on a rainy winter morning creating a blog. Maankind, is jy nie trots op my nie! It occurs to me that this can be more than just another internet marketing tool. This can become a way for living more "aware"... Now I must get my day started. Later I will play some more.