Thursday, April 12, 2012

Heavy Sighs and Show and Tell

<Haaaarumph> or some Dr. Seuss-esque noise escapes me as I plop down on the couch in my studio and look around, trying to get inspired to do something, ANYTHING creative, exciting and new.

Tick, Tock.
Tick, Tock.

-the cat brings me her toy to toss-

'Flick', pounce, hop-return.
'Flick', pounce, hop-return.

Tick, Tock.
Tick, Tock.

I stare at the two pieces on my studio wall that are 'inprogress' begun nearly a month ago and now seem to be haunting me, like ghosts, [insert your best Scoobie Doo Ghost voice here ] "Scoooooooottttttt!! Get uuuuuuup!!!! Come paaiiiiiint me...Ooooooooo".

I seem to be stuck in the repetitive psycho-analysis of how I can possibly be an artist, if I never paint enough. How can I justify, being 'unemployed' while not making much effort to use the 'gift-of-free-time' that my illness has given me. I know many artists who would LOVE to have the time that my condition offers to create new pieces. Hell, I even thought that a month or two a go, when I was cranking out almost a piece a day. I had started my 'Up To 1825' project - that should be almost at 100 pieces - and careful counting revealed I am barely pushing 60 pieces.

Granted there have been a multitude of life-issues that have squeezed my time, and I do not regret the time spent building things back  up and making sure that I am moving in a forward direction - and taking my family along with me. None the less, it has seemed almost too easy to say, 'Fuck it. I'm too tired.... I'll make it up tomorrow with two pieces....' - yeah right.

I don't know how to explain it but my situation now is almost like the bad days of my college life when I was doing too many things at once, but yet getting nothing done on any kind of a schedule, and in the end, that pattern proved to be my undoing too many times over my years, and years as an undergraduate.

Currently I see my lack of effort more as one of confusion. Confusion about the present (bills, needs, etc) and about the future (bills, needs, etc.)  none of which I see as being met by my budding career as an artist. Maybe I am frustrated because I HAVE been producing new pieces, but not selling them.... I must mention here though that this too is my own fault. I have not  yet applied or attended a single show. I have not hung my work in any galleries, and have barely posted my work on line - in places where people may possibly see and comment, but apparently do not want to buy my work.

I also have the similar artistic frustration of not having enough 'nest' money to produce a series of multi-copied / matted prints for sale. I DID find a cool place to put my designs on mugs, but again lack the capital to get a set printed to offer... I am trying my hardest to support my art and my art business by ONLY using money that has come from art sales... It has been a slim and mostly successful adventure.

I really WANT TO believe (what people have been telling me - that my stuff is cool and it will sell, but I need to SEE it happen!!!! I am not a marketing expert, and I don't want to keep pestering my successful artist friends for their secrets to success, but I feel really at a loss. I want to TRY so many cool things, but, again, lack the money to do it.

The bigger question, I think, is how come it is so hard for ME to plan for ME than it is for me to help other people with their artistic issues? I find it much easier to say, help a friend come up with an idea for a new series of paintings, or to figure out the best way to build a booth for a show, but when it comes to my own work, I become some kind of 'fraidy-cat' and can't seem to get anything accomplished.

I haven't really painted for over a week now, almost two, and this is really starting to bother me. This coupled with 'real-world-needs' like the need to make money, and I find myself almost drifting back into the 'Why bother doing art, when what I really need is a stupid 'job'?'
I can't seem to shake this feeling that I am now even wasting my time MORE than I was when I was doing nothing. Is that possible?

Another thing that bothers me as I try to figure out how to make this all work so that I can really survive as an artist, is that I never realized how important that 'feed-back' is to me when it comes to my work. In retrospect, I now realize that is one of the things I liked MOST about my time as a photographer, is the daily feedback that I had either done a good job at my work, or I had not... it was apparent in the pile of prints I turned in at the end of the day.

This was also true when I was teaching... at the end of a class or a unit, I could gauge my success as a teacher by how my students demonstrated mastery of the material. If they 'got it', then I did my job.

With my art work, it is like time-warping all the way back to school...seeking approval of the teacher, being able to stand up in the front of the class and say 'look at this cool thing I did'. As adults, we call that self-agrandizing hogwash! Or tooting our own horn...or what ever. Yet, I can't help but put my work out there and await some kind of praise or response, or better yet actual SALES that will tell me... I have done a good job.

Maybe, all this is just my impatience with the pace of becoming an artists. Maybe if I mellowed out a bit, focused on making art, the rest would come on it's own....but at this point I am feeling very much like I am holding on to this 'stupid-dream' of being a working artist and that it is slipping away day by day.

That's all for now.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Scott this is Kelly....
    I have been doing shows & stuff for 11 years and I am still in the barely scraping by stage. It has taken SO MUCH hard work just to get my studio running and purchase the supplies I need to work. Quite honestly, I don't know of ANY artist personally who is making a living on selling their art alone. Even the ones who only have themselves to support. I create and sell quite a bit of work in a year, but when I look at the actual 'profit' it is pathetic and I wonder if I would be better off selling my van and all my art stuff and just working at Burger King. My sales make a dent in our grocery bills over the summer, but I am dead in the water from December til May. It is stressful to come up with booth fees and all of the crap that has nothing to do with making art. I'm pretty sure if any of us truly figured out how to 'make it big' we might lose more than we could ever financially appreciate. I'm right there with ya bro