Works Started at my Art Retreat – August 2015

Over the summer I’ve found myself in the unusual position of having so many things going on that I’ve hardly had a chance to think, let alone write something here. And almost all of what’s been happening has been art related so I’m absolutely thrilled.

I think the only way to catch up properly is to write a few posts and document the summer. But this post isn’t one of those. What I really want to write about this morning is the shift in how I think about myself as an artist and how I feel about my art.

Artist is a title that I’ve been very reluctant to hang on myself. Professional artist, even less so. Years ago, I was around some artists who were very unsupportive of those who didn’t have a degree. The few works I showed them received minimal response along the lines of “that’s nice but leave the real art to us”. At least this is what I felt. Perhaps my own insecurity as an artist was reflected back at me. What I can say is that they were never supportive or encouraging of what I was doing. I now  know the work was reasonably good as I just sold a piece I did in 1996 (future post!). I couldn’t see there was merit in my work at the time and that’s one of the reasons I gave it up.

Once I realized I -had- to paint again, I also gave up worrying too much about what other people think. Don’t get me wrong, there’s very few things better than having someone tell you they love your work, but, at least for me, that can’t be the reason I paint. So I just paint.

The other shift was realizing that if I was going to paint, I couldn’t simply “get around to it”. I needed to make it part of my daily routine. Once I started do this, things started to happen. I got better. I got faster. I started posting progress pictures on twitter and began to receive great feedback. Which made me want to do more. To be even better. To do bigger, more challenging things. Even things like meet other artists. Go to workshops. Get out in the art community. Submit to artists calls. Granted I’ve not done -a lot- of this, but it is happening.

It’s funny. When you do things, things happen. Gave some work to charity and found out people will buy my art and some will even pay quite a bit for it. Submitted for a Gallery show and was accepted. Submitted to a mural project, was final 4 shortlisted but passed on. Almost submitted to a mural project and ended up in a discussion artists’ rights and copyright. Actually created a really big mural and ended up having a pop up art show. Had an artist refer a mural-ish commission to me because she was unable to do it. Posted work on Twitter and had multiple inquiries on sales and sold some. Went to an art retreat and painted for 5 hours a day for a week. Came up with an idea for a multimedia project that could keep me busy for months. Found a temporary studio right under my nose. Turned the temporary studio into permanent studio. Applied to a large public art call. These last few things are the things I’ll write about in future posts.

I’m still not a “professional” artist as I don’t (yet!) make my living at it and I don’t have the letters behind my name. Maybe it’s because of my past experiences with “professional” artists but I’m not sure I’ll ever feel like that’s a term I want applied to me. But I’m OK with that. I’m a working artist. And I’m working.

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