Sunday, April 18, 2010
Being a Professional Artist and the Blank Canvas
It's hard to take all the ideas you have swirling in your head and distill them into a body of work. It's hard to go in a direction a stay there for a while. This is the hardest. I have too many ideas for this, too many things to paint. But heading in a particular direction for a bit is good to do, for a lot of reasons both creative and commercial. My husband always tells me to just paint and not get too caught up in the "how" or "where" of it. This is good advice too, because good things always come to the surface if you just paint.
To be a professional artist you have to have a lot of trust in yourself; a lot of faith. You don't have to think you are the best, just that the work has merit. What does that really mean anyway? And aren't we all worthy and good enough for exactly where we are at at any given moment? I think so. So I just paint and all good things will follow. It's like going to the gym, you never regret going, but you regret not going.
A lot of doubt creeps in when you don't get that gallery show you were hoping for or get accepted into a show. You can't take these things personally. You have to take them like a professional, not a condemnation of the work. This is hard stuff when making art is such an intimate and personal experience and process. Thinking about making the work and selling it as two very separate entities has helped me.
Having faith in yourself also means that you have to invest in yourself. If you are a professional, you really have to look at yourself as a small business that you have to capitalize. Buy the things you need to make your work and spend enough for a website, marketing etc. Don't live in a scarcity mentality about the work.
Being a professional artist means being kinda brave. Stepping up to the empty canvas each day and starting new, having unwavering faith,(well almost unwavering) in yourself and the work. Taking some risks both creatively and financially in support of the work. Working hard, really hard and finding a certain joy in that. You have to stay with the joy, because it's much easier to work for someone else!