Friday, August 26, 2016

I walk the line

This past week I spent less time in the studio and more time generating content for the Internets. I am a little bothered by that fact but I also know that "generating content" is an important and necessary part of my life. The trick is finding the right balance. That's the whole trick to everything. I am still stumbling along doing what I can but mostly at this stage of the game, I am just mindful of it all.

Here's the rub. I like communicating about my work and I like making my work. These activities engage two different brains and processes of creativity. So if my content game is strong then my painting may at times suffer. But if my content game is weak and my painting is strong, then no one knows who I am or what my work is about or why they should care. So I have to do both. The Internets also like to change the rules all the time about what works and what doesn't in the content game and how far the information about your work can go. In other words the Internets like to limit your "reach" unless you want to pay for it to go further.

I am not telling you anything you don't already know, I am just explaining the conundrum. Most artists I know can't afford to buy materials, rent studios, have websites and Internet connections while also paying a premium for their content to get pushed the furthest on the superhighway. So we keep hustling, posting at the reported "best times" on instagram, twitter and facebook, all the while trying not to seem too "spammy." We also keep up with older modes of communication with our blogs, emails, mailing lists and sometimes even good old fashioned postcards and being seen at exhibitions. Of course we try to keep our finger on the pulse and continue to try new things too- podcasts, little videos, you name it and we'll try it.

And then there is the other part of the game. Watching our feeds, monitoring what works and what doesn't, engaging with folks while trying not to become obsessed with the outcomes of our reach. "They like me! They really like me!" Time to break out the spreadsheet. Naw!

What I know from all of this is that there must be a strong flame within and that art must give back to the artist something immeasurable. It's often not fame or riches or even above the poverty line but it is deep, deep within, like the will to survive. Art makers are warriors.

So what can artists do? Stick together, support one another and keep fighting! Be ready for opportunities. Say yes!

What can art lovers and patrons do? Buy our art. Share our art. Share our social media. Go to the galleries that show our work, let them know you came to them because you like our work. Leave a comment (comments and engagement get more attention and get our work seen by more people than just a like on facebook). Send us a message of encouragement. Leave a comment on our blog (no pressure). Keep fighting for the art and artists that make life beautiful and exciting.

Until next week, I will continue to walk the line for art. I hope you will join me in the process.

You can find my work here:
Union Gallery
Cupola Gallery

Friday, August 19, 2016

As I looked forward

I used to shield myself from too many inspirations, too many colors and too many ideas. I liked to keep it simple. 

I used to be someone who could handle one major event in a day. I could go to the store or I could go see friends but to do both would be too much. 

When I learned to drive at the age of 31, I couldn't drive with the radio on or the windows open and I spent too much time looking in the rear view mirror worried about the people behind me. I was taking too much time to turn in my silent, enclosed car, I was sure of it.

Today I am surrounded by inspirations and my studio table is covered with paint of many different colors. Yellow, magenta, blue and orange and not just one shade of each but several.

In my studio I watch as a dull shade of grey changes to almost lavender against the background of my latest painting. I lose myself in this color magic. Perhaps nothing can be kept simple or dull for long. Change the background color and it too will sing and become something new. 

I haven't driven a car in almost two years but one of the last times I did, all my windows were open, the music was loud and my heart was light as I looked forward.

I do not make a living as an artist but I do make a life.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Again and again

To my painting that alludes me

I bury you under layers of fear. It is because of my doing that you are so far away (right now). It is because of my doing that I never give up. I bathe you in layers now hidden. And I live to uncover you again and again. I wash you clean and see the remnants of dreams. I cover you up to make me fight. I close my eyes, move the brush and together we dance lost in time. We are partners and you have taught me the most.

I have not made my paintings, they have made me.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Perfectly average

New series in progress
An average week was had. I worked in the studio on my new series. I promoted my work throughout various social media channels. No furniture was found or refurbished from the streets. I saw a film, went for walks, saw friends, meditated, exercised and ate well. I participated in my first pub quiz. Chores were taken care of, the cat was taken to the vet and my lovely in-laws were visited. Sunflowers were purchased for the flat and I think tonight we will be having vegan gluten free fajitas for dinner and start watching the latest version of the X-files (we had to watch all the old ones and the two terrible films first).

Like I said an average week.

My healthy cat is sitting at the back window, smelling the sunflowers. I have a beer and I am listening to Chet Baker as I write this. The tree in the back garden is catching the sun and swaying in the breeze like the scene from the film Phenomenon with John Travolta. I can make this meaningful too just like they do in the film. My average weeks can be viewed from slightly off center and made beautiful or they can remain average, it's up to me.

I have been thinking about the ebb and flow of life and art; grasping on to the flow and not enjoying as much, the ebb. Continually living in the flow is not usually sustainable and the ebbs are actually okay. They are not dark valleys as they sometimes once were because I love myself too much for that. What I want to learn now is how to enjoy the ebbs more. I want to love myself enough to not worry about the average weeks and to not need to view them from off center to make them something more than they are. I have been around long enough to know that another flow is coming and I also know the average weeks serve a purpose.

Maybe this is a long way of saying that working on my paintings is like pulling teeth just now. I know they will resolve themselves eventually but I want them to be beautiful now, damn it!

I also want to remember to understand and appreciate the importance of the mundane. There is value in simply showing up, period. There is no need to grasp and cling to the initial inspiration that might set me on fire at the beginning of a series. It will come around or it won't but the series will happen. It makes it more fun and it feels better to be in the flow but a long hard slog through the ebb can also have its own rewards and lessons.

I know this. I just needed to write it down so I will remember again (and again).

So here's to the average weeks. Here's to showing up and living.

The sunflowers look gorgeous against the grey cloudy sky in the distance. The tree is still now. Chet Baker plays on and I am having a perfectly average evening and that's alright with me.

Until next week, you know what to do...