Thursday, March 21, 2013


Structures #111 by Lisa Call

Today I discovered a fantastic blog called Make Big Art by the immensely talented, contemporary fiber artist, Lisa Call.  The discovery could not have come at a better time.  I had just sent a "wah wah, whoa is me" email to my best friend and was resigned to that feeling sticking around and only escaping it/distracting myself from it by having a "lay on the couch drinking tea and watching Downton Abbey all day" kind of day. Before indulging in such behavior, I did a quick facebook check and that's when I was directed, as if by fate, to Lisa's blog.  It was EXACTLY what I needed. A real kick in the backside to propel myself out of a funk, harness frustration and transform it into productive energy (even if it was just in planning/plotting/list-making etc).

To put things all on the table, my painting tends to go into hibernation through the winter months.  I am so thankful for that commission (see last post) but other than that, I haven't done any other painting.  Well, except for one (that I'll share in a moment) that came out of a really angst-y place of discovering that I needed desperately to paint to get out some raw emotions.  It worked.  I felt relief.  And the end result reflected that raw emotion and the energy of the moment. 

©2013 Jessica Torrant
Acrylic on canvas, 16 x 20 inches

So what have I been doing with myself all winter?  I have focused exclusively on my rubber stamp business, which has experienced steady growth since I opened the shop in 2010.  I am so thankful for that business because it has given me something I've never experienced with my art - a consistent income (well, as "consistent" as any Etsy based income can be) - and that's why I started it in the first place.  My intention for that shop came to fruition and there's so much room for growth but I've kept it somewhat in check.  Firstly, I don't want to get too overwhelmed with orders as all of my stamps are hand carved and non-stop carving isn't good for someone with a predisposition for Arthritis.  Additionally, ways I could/can grow require more investment cash then I can part with at this point in time.  It has been like Goldilocks's porridge for me - "just right".  

And yet, here we are, a day after the Spring Equinox, and looking back on all of these winter months, I don't think I've ever been so unproductive when it comes to painting.  I was fine with that until just the other night when I watched Pollock for the umpteenth time.  I couldn't stay up for the whole thing (plus we all know how that worked out) but I watched through the part of the film that shows him in his most productive, explosive time.  Seeing "him" (a very convincing Ed Harris) in his barn, on FIRE with passion and connection to what he was doing, set off triggers in me.  Reminding me of that incredible feeling, when you are really locked in and connected to the Muse, and uh... it's just such an intoxicating, amazing feeling.  I missed it.  I was hungry for it.  I was angry with myself for denying it for so long.  I was left with this statement that has been buzzing in my head, challenging me, at times berating me, other times seducing me... I AM A PAINTER!!! Which leads to... WHY AM I NOT PAINTING!!??

For me, denying painting has been an entirely financially motivated decision.  It has never been a reliable or predictable income in all of my years of devotion and yet... can I honestly say I've done EVERYTHING in my power to try and make a success of my art?  Absolutely not.  I've certainly done a lot, and I'm not trying to say I shouldn't be proud of all I've accomplished, but I'm sure other artists can relate to the burning questions, "What if I really went all the way with this?  What would that look like?  What would my art look like?  What would the manifestation of my greatest dream look like?  What is that dream to begin with, anyway?"

Well, I can't promise you (or me) anything concrete, but I am going to start actually asking myself these questions and seeing where the answers lead me.  If I need to make this journey public (which apparently I do) then it is out of a desire to hold myself to it, and not back away out of fear of failure or what others will think, or laziness, or any other excuse that holds me back or keeps me within the status quo.  I am going to use Lisa's blog as a tool to help me get there by accepting some of the challenges presented and systematically challenging myself and changing the way I think about my art, my career, money, what I want, who I want to be, and what I want to do.  

I'm not sure where I'll start with all this, but I'm going to read every post on that blog and figure out a plan for myself.  I'm going to try and document my progress here.  In the meantime...

Fellow artists, please share your thoughts in the comments regarding: 

* What work have you done to challenge yourself as an artist? 
* What blogs/articles have helped inspire you to grow? 
* How would you like to change/challenge yourself, your art business, or your art?


CKS said...

I might not be able to identify completely with physically not painting, what I can identify with is this idea of legitimizing art by financial success. Also, with the fear and emotions around the perceived lack of success. I am excited for your new found/refound excitement and commitment to your work. For me, this year is about apply to actual galleries, and various opportunities which I have avoided for a long time. I wish you well in your journey.

Unknown said...

What an excellent goal! Being online is so gratifying to sell around the world, but there is nothing like seeing a work of art in person. I hope that you find great success as you embrace those opportunities and thank you for your comment!

harold said...

Cool ! I like it.