Thursday, October 22, 2009

Thoughts on overcoming economic woes...

I subscribe to a number of blogs and email newsletters that are directed towards artists, and the current buzz is that artists, in general, are becoming disheartened by the lack of sales due to our suffering economy.

FineArtViews writer Keith Bonds tells of "Six Destructive Ds": doubt, discouragement, distraction, lack of diligence, disobedience, and disbelief. Another artist, commenting on this article, added a seventh word, "despair," to the list. I must admit that as an artist, I've struggled with all of the above, especially this year. It's been tough for everyone, especially those of us who create items of luxury, such as oil paintings.

Another artist blogger, Lori Woodward, says in her article, "When Circumstances Control Emotions," "...It's important that I not let circumstances (either positive or negative) determine how I feel about making my artwork. In fact, I need to learn to base my feelings on reality and know what my strengths and weaknesses are no matter what the art market is doing."

Lori's article has hit home for me. I find that I'm constantly trying to figure out what people want, find a niche market, and paint the right subject, and then the business will start coming in a steady stream. That's not reality. The truth is, even the most famous artists are struggling, just like me. Don't get me wrong - I'm still getting commissions and selling paintings, but for being just 24, perhaps I'm getting ahead of myself to think that I should be as successful as Richard Schmid by now! Many people love and support my painting style and what I do... I love what I do. I spend so much time comparing myself to other artists that I forget that my work has merit and that it can stand on its own. The point is, I need to keep painting what I love, because my passion for my subject matter is what shows in each painting. Once that passion is gone, the art loses all sense of purpose or vivacity, and no one wants to buy a portrait, still life or landscape that hasn't been done with plenty of TLC!

If anything, the economy has forced me to spend more time in front of the easel, improving my technique and becoming a better artist. It has caused me to be grateful for what I have. I'm thankful to have a loving husband who continues to encourage me to keep on painting. Sometimes he has more faith in me than I do. I can only hope that every artist has such a person in their life. Also, today's culture puts so much focus on the artist and how the artist views the world. I feel like that is a lot of unnecessary pressure on the artist to be creative, original, and extraordinary. Really, the art isn't about the artist, the subject, or the buyer. God has given me the desire to paint and represent His creation in such a way that He is glorified, so everything I do should be about Him first, and me last. I find this encouraging because while I know that nothing I create will be radically new or original, God's glory will still be manifested in each of my works through His instrument, the humble artist.
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