It has been quiet on the blog lately, but the apparent stillness is only on the surface. Behind the scenes much has been going on. So much activity in fact, that I have found it difficult to pause long enough to write a post.
It took me several months after coming back from my three month residency at Osage Arts Community (OAC) in Missouri. Naively, I thought after spending three months deeply connected to exploring and being completely immersed in my art, that it would be easy to fit back into the routine at home. I spent several months trying very hard to fit back in, until I realized my mistake. I couldn't fit back in, because I had changed. My time at the residency opened up my life to what I could accomplish if I devoted my life to art completely. It was counter productive, and potentially damaging to go back to compromising my art by squeezing it in between this or that. I have worked very hard for the last four years to make art a priority in my life. I have willingly and joyously given up a lot of comforts to make this possible. I realized it was not possible for me to come back home and return back living the way I used to.
I spend the last three months figuring out how to continue from where I left off at OAC. Which has resulted in a new focus on my art, which I hope will allow me to support myself through my creativity. This year will be a challenging one, but I am eager for the challenge. The alternative to this direction is not attractive to me: depression, soul-smothering, emptiness...
One of the dilemma's I encountered was in my relationship to painting and the marketing and selling of my paintings. Over the last four years, with increasing intensity with each year, I have found my painting has become a deep, personal spiritual exploration. I am often guided by something outside of me (or something deep within me) to explore a subject and create a painting. The process in creating these paintings are long, challenging, sometimes exhausting. It requires intense focus, a lot of meditation, introspection and letting go. I have found it increasingly difficult to continue this process when I also have to think about how I will market the piece, whether it will be received well by others, if the piece is too personal, or that I am taking too long to create the painting. Some paintings take several months to complete, which doesn't help my income, because I can only produce a few paintings a year. I found I was forcing myself to create smaller works just to provide an income and to prove I was still around working. But the small paintings often were just a distraction, they usually didn't not excite me or challenge me, and few of these pieces sold. I think others sensed the lack of spirit in these pieces a well. They were, in many ways, a fraud. These pieces didn't contain within them, that special something that drew people to my larger paintings. I was forced to pick up multiple part time jobs, and thus the compromise begins.
There is a great challenge in working side jobs that one is completely disengaged from. It is exhausting, draining and sometimes spiritually demeaning. It became more and more difficult to come home and work on a painting that requires intense focus and a lot of energy. Even starting the day with painting was problematic. I could begin really connecting to a piece then suddenly have to pull away to go to a job, which often left me out of sorts, making silly mistakes at the job because my energy and focus was distracted. I needed to find a way of generating income that supports my creative energy, rather than detracting from it. I needed to stop compromising this energy, but I was at a loss as to how to do this.
The last two years I have been exploring fiber, which lead me to needle-felting sculptures. I have been enjoying the challenge of this new medium. I like that it is environmentally friendly medium and that it allows me to work in three dimensions. I have had good success marketing these sculptures and thinking about marketing while creating them doesn't interfere with the process. It actually inspires and excites me. This has lead me to setting up booths at local arts and craft fairs, which growing success. Additionally, I have found setting up the small wool sculptures is far easier and much more mobile than lugging around heavy, fragile framed pieces and delicate prints for shows. Because of this, I have decided to direct most of my marketing energy to the needle felted sculptures as a way to support my art career.
This does not mean I am giving up my painting. Not in the least! The need to paint is deep-rooted and necessary for my emotional and spiritual well-being. By focusing my marketing efforts on wool sculpture, it will free me up to connect more deeply and without conflict to the paintings I am creating. This will also allow me to create a painting first, then reflect on whether it can be marketed afterwards. I believe some paintings call out to many people and some are not meant to be sold, others must wait to find the right person. I will be better able to find the proper homes for my paintings by downplaying the marketing and letting them connect to the right individuals. In the future, I will continue to share my paintings with you, though at times there may be fewer of them and they may be more widely spaced apart.
I am excited about this new direction in my art and life. I feel like with the arrival of Spring, I have gone through a rebirth of sorts. In fact, the next big painting I will be working on will feature the Irish Goddess Etain, who represents the notion of rebirth in all its forms. I am taking a big leap. I am putting faith in the guiding spirit of my art. I have come to learn that when I follow the guiding voice of my art spirit, life seems to fall into place. Obstacles cease being obstacles, and become opportunities for growth. Challenges become ways to stretch myself, rather than a means to defeat.
I appreciate your support over these last four years. I do hope to continue seeing you as I move into this new, exciting territory. It has been wonderful to share my journey with you, and without you along the way, this work would be quite lonely. It is, after all, your continued support that has allowed me to get this far on the path. I deeply believe that no effort is accomplished by one person alone. I have been able to refocus my life, focus on creating art, and give it back to the world because of all of you. I am forever grateful for the relationships that have been forged and the support generated by embracing this life of art making. You are directly responsible for art being made in the world. Thank you! I believe the potential of what I can do creatively will blossom dramatically with this new focus, it will be wonderful to continue to share these new discoveries with you!