I was thinking recently about the times we live in. Last week I went on a night hike with a friend. Why a night hike in a blizzard you ask? Because I got a new jacket for Christmas and my buddy had a new headlamp, and they needed to be tested out, of course. The dogs loved the idea, although for some strange reason our wives elected to stay at home. And FYI -- no headlamp shines very far when the snow is falling hard and heavy. We got lost for awhile and our two-hour hike turned into three. Luckily, my new coat performed better than the headlamp.
Modern technology is truly amazing, and so are these times. Even though there are a lot of bad things happening today – proliferation of scary weapons, disease, poverty, political corruption / ineptitude – there is also much to love.
I love digital music storage, and my digital camera is just awesome. Digital printing - so great, email (good or bad, it’s up to you), websites, social networking, modern vehicles and, if you have insurance, modern medicine. Not to mention today’s superior art supplies delivered right to your door.
Excellent training is at one’s fingertips online or in workshops all over the world. Globalization of markets and the opportunities to express your creativity have multiplied, and this is mostly good. True, it’s a faster-paced world, and people are stressed by a multitude of things these days. Still, we have freedoms, conveniences and opportunities that our grandparents never even dreamed of.
Winter seems to be a time of extremes, no frostbite intended. I’ve had a lot of visitors in my studio this month despite the weather, collectors and artists alike. The collectors have been mostly upbeat, but with the artists it’s been a real mix. Some have been very excited about their latest project or class, while others have been quite down, complaining about the economy and their lack of sales, etc.
It’s true that in these times there are many more of us creating than collecting. However, most of the artists I’ve heard complaining are not the struggling artists who actually eat or starve by their art. Ironically the “complain-air” painters are generally the ones who don’t need to sell every day: people who are already financially stable. The most unhappy artists are those who judge their worth and success only in terms of sales. They are missing the point – art is for the soul, not the wallet.
Your quality of life is not entirely determined by the size of your bank account. Sure, we all need enough to live on, but remember, you can’t take that Mercedes with you. You can, however, leave behind some inspired art if you have a true love of it and your motives are genuine. There’s nothing wrong with being motivated by sales. It’s great validation. Just make sure it’s not your only motivation.
As for the times, if you want to increase your sales, you have to build your name and your skills. Both are long-term propositions and as a member of APAP, you have some wonderful opportunities at your disposal – shows, paint-outs, classes, camaraderie and so on.
Sometimes when you participate in a show or event, just like when you invest in advertising, you don’t always experience immediate results. There may not be instant gratification. But you do get exposure and hopefully some feedback. People see your work, they may be looking at your website or dropping your name at the dinner table. They may be planning to buy something as soon as the economy improves just a little more.
Take advantage of your membership. Get involved, participate, encourage a fellow artist, and keep painting strong – as though your work is in great demand – because it is, or should be, in your own heart.
Brush the ice from your eyelashes and realize the opportunities of our times.
(The snow scene of Sedona hills was taken from Codys driveway .)