Thursday, January 22, 2009

Back in action

You may have noticed I started off this year with a bang in my previous posts and then sort of disappeared for a bit. The last two weeks have been rather challenging - battling the same demons of fear and doubt that creep in whenever I give them the slightest chance to enter my mind. As a not quite starving (but close) artist, it's so easy to get over my head with these fears. Looking at wildly successful artists does not help. I truly have nothing but respect, awe and admiration for powerhouse artists like well, you know ;) ... honestly their success just proves to me that it's possible. It's when you play the compare/contrast game that gets you in trouble.

Maybe these thoughts should not be said out loud. Maybe it isn't the most professional thing to do. But I know that most of my readers are fellow artists and can relate. And here is where the tables turn. If I did not have a wonderful community of fellow artists to turn to, talk about the biz and all of it's ups and downs, I would have stopped doing this long ago. People like Meghan Henley and Amanda Hone, to name just two, have kept me afloat for years with encouragement, cheers when I succeed and compassion during the tough times. This week two artists helped me turn my frown upside down and I'd like to thank them with all of my heart.

Please take a look at their amazing artwork in their Etsy shops.

Aja of

and Kendra of

So... what's the plan? JUST KEEP ON KEEPIN' ON BABY!! Depression not only feels miserable, it halts all progress. It is good for absolutely nothing. I'm sure depression is a common issue for many artists - we are a deeply feeling breed and the highs are sky high and the lows are pretty bleak. Staying centered, taking one step and day at a time is a constant goal. What I learned from this time is to just let myself feel blue if I feel it - get it out of your system, don't try and stuff it and save face, it will come out eventually anyway. Take a break - step away from the computer or the easel and do something else - play a game, take a walk, watch a good movie. Cry it out, talk it out, then tell yourself tomorrow is a new day and I'm going to make it a good one!

I'm on the upswing now, and in the spirit of moving forward and being open to new possibilities and opportunities, I've signed up for a new art site that's been courting me the last few months. It could be a winner, it could not, either way it's worth a shot. I really like the look of the site and the studio section of your page is neat. Artists there approach that section in all different ways - I decided to share a picture of where I work, a commission example and an example of my prints with a link to my Etsy shop. This is my profile on -

I'm so thankful for all of you and I want to be there for you if you need a friend to talk to. (I'm about to bust into "Lean on me!"). Seriously. I leaned hard on the shoulders of good friends this week, now how can I pay that back? If you need me... let me know.


ali said...

One day at a time! I know what it's like to see others' work, compare/contrast, and get caught up in the 'if I only did that, then my work would be more saleable'...and quite honestly, it takes making a bunch of 'bad' paintings to really see the good ones shine through. Follow your heart, create a consistent, coherent body of work...and don't get caught up in the 'Valentine's I have to make this because it will sell game'...I almost did that and wound up more confused than ever....thankfully I have too much other stuff going on in the studio to get swept up into the 'make for whatever holiday' to sell in your etsy shop theory. If people like your work, it will just takes time.
Keep your head up, and remember...we didn't chose this to make money (but it's nice when we sell!)

Kendra Zvonik said...

I am so happy that our conversation has helped you as much as it has helped me- I think we are just getting started! It is a great comfort to know you are having the same kinds of struggles as I am having and also that you are so very determined to succeed. It is this determination that will see you through.
Being a painter can be lonely and one gets caught in mental loops that need to be broken. Sometimes we all need some outside intervention. It makes me laugh because I really had no idea that you were having all the same sorts of questions and doubts too- I was coming to you because I see you as someone who has it figured out!
Each time I get to know another painter, I realize that there is a pattern as to what kind of person is drawn to this life of solitude and thought. As we constantly remind ourselves not to compare ourselves to others, we also have to remind ourselves not to demand too much of ourselves. I met a photographer last summer who pointed this fact out to me about painters. . . We all feel pressed for TIME. We all fear that if we stop for even a moment, we won't be a painter anymore. So we push. Some painters I know get lots done, some don't, but regardless, we all have very high expectations of ourselves. These expectations can sometimes stifle us.
It gets even more confusing when we start thinking about $ and what people want us to do, what people expect to see . . . Like ali says a bout making holiday work- oh geez. don't even get me started . . . confusing because I have made myself unemployable and I need/WANT my art to start paying for my life. But it has always been the other way around and may always be. it's the whole patience thing coming up again . . . ugh.
Checked out your discovered artist page & that looks really interesting. keep me posted. Much more focused on art than craft like on Etsy. So much confusion happens for me on Etsy because the focus is clearly on craft. I think I am trying to make myself fit into something that is not a perfect fit. But, it is a wonderful community and I am enjoying selling online more than anything else I have tried.
In closing, I am so grateful to know you and look forward to more lengthy conversation- ANY TIME! I am always out here painting. And I know what you are doing! I keep getting distracted while I type because your beautiful pictures are scrolling by . . .
Don't stop painting- you are just INCREDIBLE!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this honest words. I recognize this so much and it's good to share it, because than you know you're not alone. I also think it's better to make a painting than to worry all day. It really works! And I really love your paintings! I've put your link on my blog, hope you add my link too, so we support eachother. Keep up the positive spirit! :-)

Unknown said...

ali - thanks for your comment. One day at a time indeed! I hear you about not getting distracted from our main goal and purpose - PAINTING. Although, creating illustrations has been a good way to spend my time when I'm just not feeling the urge to paint. It's kind of like a hobby, that's why I have a seperate shop for my illustrations. Zazzle is nice because once you upload something, it's there and you don't do anymore work. If it sells, great, if not, no real loss and potential customers may follow your links to your main sites. But without a doubt, I am a painter first and foremost and that is what I need to do - keep painting!

Kendra - you and I are like two peas in a pod, I swear! Your words ring so true and make perfect sense to me. What you said about painters in general is so comforting to me. YES! It's like "was that person describing me?" no - they were describing US as a collective and that brings me so much peace. I am not alone. I too have made myself unemployable (love that phrasing) and crazy/unrealistic as it may be, I need to make my living doing this. I simply must. Back in the day when I got started, those were the glory days. Bidding wars on small paintings going up and over $200. I have to say, it spoiled me rotten! My dear friend Crow is always reminding me that we do this because we must, not to make money. The little greedy devil in me says "yeah, yeah, I know BUT..". But BUT that's when I run into problems. Anytime I start focusing on the $ element I flounder, I lose inspiration, I get manic/depressed, everything crashes down. If you focus on what will sell, you will sell nothing. If you focus on following your passion, that's when people take notice of what you're doing, that's when you create your best work. This mini pity party break down was a positive thing in the long run. It's made me more ferocious than ever! I'm ready to tear into the studio like a lion, or a lioness, or maybe a liger.

sylf - my thanks to you as well for posting. Your latest paintings are simply gorgeous! I've added your blog and I look forward to seeing more of your lovely work.

ali said...

read all these comments!...these are all some amazing thinkers/painters/inspirers!