Tuesday, 25 March 2014

the Business of Being an Artist

Etretat Spring, 9 x 12 in., oil on board, £700

As I write from a small Normandy village not far from Etretat, I'm reminded that in spite of the stress and fear associated with living constantly on a financial edge, I live quite a charmed life.... traveling, answering to no-one, not having to get up early, drive horrible commutes, etc., etc.  But there are paybacks to this charmed life.  There is the constant knowledge that at any one moment, your fortunes could change, you might not pay your rent, your loan payment, your food bill; your carefully laid plans for exhibitions and sales might evaporate into thin air, and through no fault of your own.  Yes, I lead a charmed life and answer to no-one, but I also live my life by the generosity, support and good will of others.  Without their patronage, whether it be a gift of a house to live in for awhile, or the sale of a painting or planned exhibitions, I would have to return to the world of punching a time-clock. 

What does an artist do when plans change, when other peoples lives and difficulties create their own changes and difficulties in your own?  (And I'm NOT drawing those obvious lines, because these are the chances I took on when I began to paint full-time).  What do I do?  Well, I keep working, and talking, and selling and FIND the next exhibition; try to fill that space that has been emptied, with a few sales to make up for the inevitable lost revenue, and keep planning ahead.  Most dealers and artists plan exhibitions a year or two, even three, in advance.  So immediately filling a space in 6 months is a tall order, but not impossible.  Cancellations happen, schedules open up.  And more importantly, its an opportunity to find new clients, patrons, and new exhibitions. 

I have unfortunately had two scheduled exhibitions cancelled this summer - in two different countries.  And BOTH were incredible opportunities!  One is postponed, but the other just gone.  In addition to changing countries - and all that entails - I'm now looking to fill those two voids, with either exhibitions or new clients.  I guess I'm reminding myself that being an artist means more than just the painting (or music, or writing, or sculpting) -- the act of creating.  It is also the nitty gritty down to earth need to get out there, hussle and talk and meet people when you don't feel like it.  Take a few days or weeks to assess and regroup, and let solutions come to the fore; and above all, don't spend time complaining about the injustice of it all. We artists lead charmed lives, and there is also work involved that means sometimes being a little tougher. There is no room for fear, so when it haunts you, turn and face it down, never let it keep you from moving forward. No matter how hesitant those new steps feel, keep putting your feet one in front of the other, keep peering through and trying new doors, and keep the work happening.  NEVER, never, never give up! 

I've been fortunate to be staying with a friend who over the years has never hesitated to remind me to get up, dust myself off, and that I have NO reason to fear, to never forget what an incredible life is possible as an artist, and I am incredibly grateful, as always.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

In France, Finally....

Dieppe Harbor, 14 x 11 in., oil on board, £1,000.00


Grand Mare, Sottieville, Normandy  (pleinaire) 8 x 10 in., oil on board, £700.00

I'm writing today from a small village not far from the coast of Normandy.  In fact, the two paintings above are images from the part of France I'm currently passing through.... the top painting is one I did several years ago of the harbour at Dieppe, the lower one is a pleinaire painting  I did during the Grand Mare in Sottieville.  I can feel the stress of starting this move begin to melt away as I sit in a Normandy farm house, watching the weather come and go, and thinking of doing no more than going for a walk (no, not even a run).  I can feel the hope and excitement begin to fill my heart, as I consider the next 6 months.... nothing to do but explore, paint, do the business of being a painter (ie exhibit and sell those paintings) and enjoy my horse for the first time in four months!  I want to get my brushes out, am itching to get to work!  Not time for THAT yet, but I will set out with the camera and sketchbook today! 

Change is difficult for everyone, and some artists absolutely can't handle it; but this artist seems to thrive on new inspiration.  This change has been hard won, but I believe truly that it will prove to be another momentous shift in my work.  Even the hiatus from painting since late October 2013 will, I think, prove to help my paintings leap forward!