Thursday, May 29, 2008

failure of nerve

Jay Walker 10.25" x 10.25" mixed media on archival paper

I've often heard a big fuss made over artists who give in, compromise, water down, sell out. But what about galleries who start out with high ideals, and populate their stables with artists whose work reflects those ideals, then allow ambition or fear of economic failure to take control and start imposing that on their current (and choice of future) artists? I'm just saying.

Trying to satisfy too many masters at once is always a bad idea and it can show in the work. But how do you get back to the purest flame of inspiration when bombarded with stimuli and input all around, plus demands and decisions by those who hold the reins? They naturally fear economic failure and as an artist you fear the black hole of not having that gallery 'in'. Decisions based on fear are usually the wrong ones.

A friend wrote this to me yesterday in an email and I think I needed the reality check:

I've been in that place before where I see similar artists (to the one you sent) and say, "I could do that! I could paint these simple, pretty, decorative paintings and market them exclusively, really brand myself well and make some money and live a nice, good, simple life and be THAT person." But I know now I can't.

Haven't we visited this topic before? Why don't I have any answers yet? Maybe, like Buddhist wisdom teaches, you're presented with the same lesson over and over again until you finally get it right.

17 Comments:

Blogger Caroline said...

Look into the mirror and see who is there.

30/5/08 2:57 AM  
Blogger Toni said...

Be yourself, do what inspires you, Look for inspiration in others but create in your own way. The opportunities are there be open to them. And do what Caroline suggests.
sending you hugs.

30/5/08 4:34 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Caroline and Toni: Whenever I write this kind of post or read it elsewhere most responses say to follow one's heart, not one's head. In my case I know I'm not trying to pump out a product. What I'm looking for is new angles, so I quit asking once and for all. I either need to hear this advice in a different way or I need a completely different perspective.

30/5/08 6:56 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

I like your closing line. I need a little Buddhist wisdom too.

30/5/08 7:07 AM  
Blogger Angela Rockett said...

Oh, Jay Walker... I get it! *slap knee* :) I love those jays. They're just so beautiful. On a good day we get as many as 6 squabbling over our bird feeder.

This is such a difficult balance for artists. And, like all such difficult balances, the answers must come from within. External advice does almost no good whatsoever. That being said, I find that when I start to tip too much toward "what's going to sell?" or "how can I be a success?" or any of the myriad of questions that can derail me, I have to consciously remove those thoughts and remind myself why I paint, and it has nothing to do with any of those (even though they're a very nice when they happen). It's too easy to forget.

30/5/08 8:24 AM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

I need a little Buddhist wisdom too.

30/5/08 9:40 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Heather: It's the remembering part. "When under stress apply Buddhist wisdom."

Angela: You know what, I think I'd have this trouble less if I had more contact with you. I think I NEED THAT PAINTING (you know, "Andrea's Painting") as a handy visual reminder to look to you and your amazing singularity of focus. Wanna trade for something..?

Cynthia: Don't we all. I need to start reading that Buddhist Thought of the Day I have located so prominenetly on my homepage but keep forgetting to look at.

30/5/08 10:20 AM  
Blogger Donn said...

If you're LUCKY you finally get it...most don't, they just get worn down.

Artistes need a little luck and/or to educate and nurture a sphere of influence that has some sway in deciding what's hot for the great unwashed.

Our culture equates success in monetary terms so it is easy to see why most people believe that that is a legitimate benchmark.

Unfortunately most Painters seem to find their greatest success during their post-breathing stage...
I am not certain why that is, it certainly doesn't apply to Musicians, Plumbers, or Athletes.

I guess it's more of a supply and demand thingamabob. When a product line is guarandamnteed to be finito the collectors start salivating.
Pity.

30/5/08 10:39 AM  
Blogger carla said...

Your Jay Walker is gorgeous! You've captured the jay attitude in its stance so perfectly. As for your post... sigh... I agree that "decisions based on fear are usually the wrong ones." I suspect the reason you don't have answers yet might lie in the fact that you - and most of us here - are on input overload and can't help but feel our personal foundations shaking a bit when we see this, that and the other person apparently having huge success with work we might consider selling out to please a market. Stick to your path... it's the right direction for you!

carla

30/5/08 11:37 AM  
Blogger Anil P said...

The economics of necessity not only compels but also bends!

Sometimes when you're presented with the same lesson over and over again it is to remind you not to follow it!

30/5/08 1:05 PM  
Blogger dinahmow said...

Weighing in with more Zen:"when the pupil is ready, the teacher will appear."
But what I rally came to say is: I love the jay! On my first day in Vancouver, a jay sat on the roof and looked down at us, then flew down and
jay-walked right up to my feet! (The it flew away and I've never seen another!)

30/5/08 3:00 PM  
Blogger nadine said...

Money and art. Ugh.
Before you became a fulltime artist, when your teaching was the steady pay cheque, did you paint then? Can you remember how it felt to paint with no pressures (other than maybe ego) of "will this sell?" I don't know it there would be any answers there, but seems worth taking a look at...

30/5/08 3:11 PM  
Blogger Ellen said...

I don't really 'hate' jays, that was wrong of me to say before, it's just the 5:00 am screeching in my backyard that gets me. It IS a lovely drawing. I do like Angela's comment - reminding yourself why you paint.

But "Andrea's Painting"? Whoa there, I kind of thought "Ellen's Painting" when I saw that one, (we'll see...we'll see...)

30/5/08 4:29 PM  
Blogger andrea said...

Donn: I guess every job/calling/art/profession has people who know exactly what they want and immediately find their niche but I suspect it's fairly rare. We have a habit of looking at the exceptions, though, because they do stand out. Meanwhile, my kids are waiting for me to die. :)

Carla: Thanks. I was just discussing inpout overload with Ellen and it occurred to me that back when I didn't have the total sensory overload that I have now I produced similar sort of work so maybe we just need to divorce ourselves from outside influences a little more.

Anil: Good point! Or maybe it's that we are presented with material we need to form a compromise between what we want to do and what THEY want us to do...?

Dinah :Appropriae about the jay! And what if we see the teacher but mistake him/her for a rival?

Nadine: Good question and no. With kids and distractions I found I could never both teach and paint. Plus, as was pointed out to me recently, teaching and painting require the use of the same part of the brain, so I just didn't have it in me mentally (or discipline-wise) to do both.

Ellen: We may have to share that painting! I thought about cutting it in half but...

31/5/08 7:02 AM  
Blogger Ilva said...

I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I have decided on living my life in two compartments, one is to happily make pictures that people want to buy and in the other I make those I would like to buy. I never have had the same taste as the rest of the world anyway so I hope it will work. But then I am in a different situation than you. I really want to stop feeling bad about making things that sell (well, kind of sell), as long as I keep up my OWN work as well! Now, I probably misunderstood what you are talking about but anyway....

31/5/08 9:21 AM  
Blogger andrea said...

Ilva: That's so simple it's brilliant.

31/5/08 12:25 PM  
Blogger swampgirl said...

nice jaywalker ... i love your black paper stuff.

2/6/08 11:47 AM  

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