Thursday, November 29, 2012

Fake It Til You Make It

Fake It Til You Make It

Although I have been doing art work for most of my life, I have only been publicly selling for a few years. It’s tough when there’s been a lifetime of self-esteem issues and shyness to overcome. I never have been one to put on an act, so learning to do shows and deal with customers has not been easy.

I was thinking the other day about what an artist says when asked how things are going. If you’re at a show and the day is dragging on and you haven’t sold anything, how do you respond to that question?

It’s very important to stay upbeat and positive. It’s hard when things aren’t going so well sales-wise. I usually make an effort to enjoy the work of the other artists and chat with them if things aren’t busy. I get much inspiration from others and it’s important to support one another. I also love hearing how they do what they do. I check out other artists’ set ups to get ideas. Not to copy them, but to further develop my own site.

When the aforementioned question comes up, do you put on a happy face and say, “Great! It’s going great.” Do you tell little white lies to keep up a front?

You DO need to maintain positiveness. “Fake It Til You Make It” becomes an internal motto. Put on the public act. Keep smiling. After all, a potential customer does not want to deal with a Gloomy Gus. Plus, positive energy promotes positive results.

Still, I wonder where lines are drawn. If asked how sales are going, does one put on the act that sales are great even when they’re not? This economy is tough and difficult for small town New Englanders to do big venues due to the added expense of the show being more expensive to get into and having to overnight in a hotel or campground. On the one hand, “fake it til you make” gets one by and it works.   On the other hand, there’s an issue of not being honest.

I’m not even sure what that means. Are we being dishonest by putting on a positive act? It wouldn’t help ourselves or our sales if we said that sales were not good. In thinking about this more, it doesn’t even have to be about the sales. When asked how the day is going, anything positive about the day could be mentioned. “There’s a great group of artists here.” “We couldn’t ask for better weather.” “The customers are awesome.”

So, in asking about my question and writing about it, I’ve discovered my own answers. Every day is a learning experience. Every show is an opportunity to do better. Even for artists who enjoy spending time alone, it’s good for us to get out in the public. I am certainly looking forward to this next summer and the outdoor show season.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Seeing Things

As time goes on, I notice that I look at things differently depending on what project might be in my mind. I am a photographer and enjoy making cards and prints. I also use photographs as a guideline for my drawings and paintings. When I am out and about, I've discovered that I look at things differently whether I am taking a picture to use as a photo or if it will be used in another way.  

A photograph needs to stand out. It needs to catch the eye of the viewers, draw them in. My goal with a photo is to share that moment of excitement that caught my attention. The color needs to be lifelike, there needs to be good light and the composition needs to be just so with the proper focus and cropping. I want others to see and experience the moment, the beauty, the awe. The subjects vary from beautiful scenery to birds and critters, flowers, rusty items, things found on the ground, or old buildings.

When I take a photo with the intent of using it for a drawing, it’s almost like I am looking at the scene with new eyes. I am thinking how the scene will look in grayscale. Is there enough contrast? How’s the light? Sometimes a scene does not make for a great photo, but I can see possibility for a drawing or painting. What can I do with the photo to make a remarkable piece of art? The photo doesn’t have to be perfect because I can make adjustments in the art work. I allow the drawings to take on a life of their own.

The art of seeing also takes on a different perspective after I download the photos onto the computer. Sometimes what I think is a great shot, doesn’t appear to be so on the computer. I might notice things not seen when I took the original shot. (I often like those surprises.) There’s also the point where I don’t always trust my eyesight. (Getting old, you know.) This can be true whether looking through the lens or at the computer screen.

Printing the photo also changes how I see. If I am doing prints or cards, I use good photo paper. If I am doing drawings or paintings, I will print on regular paper because sometimes the picture isn’t good enough to waste good photo stock. (Okay, maybe I can admit to being a little cheap here.) This can present an interesting challenge in creating original works of art. My intent is to use the photo as a guideline. I am not trying to re-create the photo. 

When planning a painting, the challenge is that regular paper does not hold all the colors well and often the contrast is less. I don’t want to spend my time doing extra editing with these photos. My goal is the painting. Doing the color studies for this gives me another aspect with which to work and I find this challenge intriguing. 

In closing, it is important to note that this is an all-over view of my “living the life of an artist.”  I am not only doing art, but I’m studying the aspects of the self, what the self experiences and feels in creating, what influences are involved, and so forth. It’s that old adage of it being about the journey. Yes, selling the work is important, but this journey is oh, so fascinating.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Brink of Madness

The Brink of Madness

The earth rumbled
my foundation shook 
the windows of my soul
rattled and shattered

In the black hole
punched in my heart
I hold two broken ends
as hurricane winds
tear through the darkness

Barely hanging on
I can’t close the gap
to the mental chaos
threatening to rip the threads
from my aching hands

I’m on the abysmal brink
of madness
and I’m slipping

What joy in me
has scattered in the wind
All that I am
has been torn asunder
The joy that made me so happy
brutally stripped from my being

I’m on the abysmal brink
of madness
and I’m slipping

My heart lies
crushed and bleeding
Your thoughtless words
raped my soul
Your impersonal comments
left me for dead

I’m on the abysmal brink
of madness
and I’m slipping

I stare at the half finished canvases
feeling nothing but despair
I’m on the abysmal brink
of madness
and I’m falling in.

Hurtful Criticism

Being able to do my art brings me such joy. When I am creative, I am one huge feeling of contented joy. No matter what goes on in my life, as long as I am able to be at an easel with charcoal, pastels or paint or have notebook and pens or be out with my camera, I can cope. However, a couple months ago I received some very hurtful criticism on some of my favorite pieces; comments that cut me to the core.

I've had disappointments in the past. I work in a medium that isn't always appreciated. I struggle to find a market for the work that makes me feel so wonderful doing. However, this time, the words stripped me bare. I spent the first few days totally in tears and since then, I found it very difficult to even look at my drawings. All I see are the flaws. I feel shattered. What brought me such joy is gone. Even the joy at taking photographs has diminished. I haven't wanted to talk to anybody or go anywhere.

Yes, I have been told many times that an artist needs the hide of an armadillo. Yes, I knew going into that venture was taking a big risk. Still, do judges ever think what their comments might do to a fragile ego? Do they feel so high and mighty that they can't bother to offer something positive? With so many artists out there right now, do they even care what they actually say?

Okay, I know this is my "lesson to be learned." I understand that, and yes, I'll admit that I am looking at my work with the intent to improve (when I can look at my work.) I know I am not a great artist and there is always room for improvement. However, two months later and I am still... crushed. I cry once a day or at least get teary eyed. I look at my drawings and quickly look away.

Did I deserve such unfeeling, cold, negative comments? No. Does anybody? No.

This morning I was able to stop being quite so devastated and actually have been looking at what I currently feel. Empty. Numb. It's like the vessel that is me has been punctured and all the joy that was carried within has gushed out. The holes have not healed and this has affected all my work... and my life. I have not had joy for anything since and when I do go out, I feel I am wearing a mask and putting on an act.

The recovery is slow. Yet, this morning I did stand in front of the easels. (I have three with unfinished drawings and two with paintings.) I picked up a piece of charcoal and worked on each of the drawings until the charcoal was just a tiny spec. I've made a tiny step back.

Has the joy returned? No. I still feel full of holes. I still feel empty. Numb is good sometimes. But I can feel a little bit satisfied that I've accomplished something today. I know I have not given up. I can't. I'm an artist!

I've been at this for a few hours now. I can pull up the page to my old blog, Write After This,  but I cannot make any changes. It has all the facebook and twitter links. I'm feeling a bit lost here.

Creating a blog

And so today I begin a new blog in preparation for a trip and to record the happenings of a struggling artist. As of yet, I am unable to figure out how to make this look good (to me.) Please bear with me.