I read a humorous article recently about excuses for not painting. The article offered a great chuckle, especially for those of us that wake up thinking about painting and then paint, while other things must wait until we have the majority of a new idea blocked in before we can step away from the easel. I wrote a slight variation to this response in reply. My approach likely applies to just about anything we really want to do or feel we “must” do….
Frankly, I tend to organize all life activities around my painting and gallery needs, even a pandemic. I moved the studio work back to the great room from my gallery’s winter studio when we received “stay at home” direction. I ordered more supplies online when I couldn’t go get them myself. I increased my social media presence to cover off what would have been in person sales in the now closed gallery. I expected a huge drop in productivity and art sales. I mean how was I going to paint and do all that sanitizing and cook all of our meals with no housecleaning support while looking after all of our other needs because my husband has cognitive disabilities due to a severe stroke? On top of this, I had already rented an additional room for the gallery in January and it needed top-to-bottom renovations. Plus, I had committed to three other emerging artists to share the west coast landscape focus on these new gallery room walls. I had to do the ground work or behind-the-scene training with them so they would be ready to show their paintings and we could synchronize a smooth gallery experience for the viewer. It all sounds impossible even as I write this. But, here we are in the first week of July.
The housecleaner is back! (She is the only person we opened our bubble up to receive and her bubble only extends to us.) I am still cooking 80% of our meals from scratch and we haven’t starved or developed scurvy. In fact, we are eating better than ever. The new gallery room renovations are completed and the first show with the new emerging artists and myself is hung. A new solo exhibition of my own work is also hung in the main gallery room. I am now receiving in person and online gallery visitors again by appointment.
And… I have already completed and released 25 new works and 20 works in my inventory have sold with two new paintings on reserve for a competition. Depending on the sizes I generally complete and release 30 - 40 works a year. So this is a excellent start to the year. Finally, revue and sales at the end of the second quarter are very close to that of the whole of the previous year and slightly above the year before that. Admittedly, luck was on my side. I already had a solid online presence for showing, marketing and selling my work and I already knew how to work hard and strategically in adverse situations, as if my life depended on it… and in this case it does.
My one piece of advice to want-a-be artists is to paint first. This forces everything else including partners, children, grandchildren, friends, grocery shopping, gardening, waiting for more art supplies to arrive and so on, to fall into the places and time between your painting practice. If you feel unable to paint, go gather references or put work in the inventory for release or put up an old favourite painting to talk about in your social media timeline. Do any small or large thing that keeps you thinking and acting like a painter until a bigger window of time and opportunity opens up. You are the only person that can take your painting seriously. Your painting practice and art career deserve your vision and persistence and ultimate success. In case you are wondering, I am not in the epicentre of the international art world. I live on a small island on the southwest coast of Canada. I do not have several prominent galleries representing my work. However, I do have a vision and the drive to see it through no matter what. Adversity is often the fuel for breakthrough opportunities. Be on the lookout for these scarce and rare gems of possibilities. They are always there. We just need to notice them and then act.
These things are not easy. They are often extremely hard. You will breakdown and cry in frustration. You will feel foolish at times for believing in your mission. You will be scared of failure or success or both. You will need to ask for help from others and trust that they will follow through and then be ready to come up with a plan B when they fail to deliver. But you can do it, against all odds, I promise you can do it. Just put out the paints, pick up the brushes and paint as often as you can, before doing anything else.
Of course, in these unprecedented times, everything can still go sideways and fall apart in some grand way. However, I will go to sleep confident that I have done my best. I will know I didn’t scrimp on effort and risk taking and this is the best any of us can do.
Now I am off to paint. All the best to you at the easel today!