One of the tough things about being an artist is rejection. To be honest, you’re surrounded by it most of the time. Whether it be from a gallery turning down your request to have them carry your work, or from sales that don’t happen. Even the people that tell you how much they love your work are, in a way, rejecting you when they don’t like it enough to actually buy it. Pricing your work is hard, too, because you want to sell it, but you want to value it for what it’s worth. But what it’s worth is really arbitrary. If it’s not selling at any price, it’s not worth anything. I’ve raised and lowered prices several times, and it really doesn’t seem to make much difference. This, of course, makes me think the work is no good.
My dancer work appeals mostly to dancers or former dancers, who generally have no money. My realist work is smaller but more expensive because of the time required to complete each piece, and people balk at the price. And when I go into galleries, I see mostly landscape art. I can do landscapes, but it really doesn’t interest me beyond a little plein air painting now and then. I appreciate the landscape art other people do, but I don’t have much fun doing it myself. And I don’t just want to imitate what other people are already doing. That’s not art.
So I find myself feeling kind of down about it all over the last few days. When I was painting in Boone last week, I realized how meditative painting is for me. I haven’t had time lately to paint much, and my studio in my house isn’t set up well yet, so I’d kind of forgotten how much I enjoy it. When I was out there painting, my brain finally just shutthefuckup and I stopped worrying about every little thing. I was just there, painting. Clearly I need to paint more frequently. I know people think that’s what I do at the sip and paint studio, but really, I’m teaching, not painting. Technically, I have a paintbrush in hand, but I’m busy listening to my customers chatter so I know if someone needs help, or I’m planning how I’m going to teach the next step, or watching the clock to make sure we’re moving at a reasonable pace. I’m not concentrating on just playing with the paint (not to mention that I’ve already painted what I’m teaching several times, so it loses its thrill).
I also found a really great gallery in Blowing Rock, and submitted my work despite the fact the 9 out of 10 paintings were impressionist landscapes. I knew it was a long shot, but thought maybe I could fill a niche for them. They, of course, said no. Which sends me spiraling down and thinking that my work is crap. Or makes me feel like I need to switch to painting landscapes if I ever want to make a living as an artist. Then we went to the NC Museum of Art, and when we got to the modern art section, I started getting really pissed off. Great, the artist painted sloppy squares next to more sloppy squares using ugly colors. And the museum bought the work for thousands of dollars. Meanwhile, I’m doing this, which takes really ability, not just an interesting concept, and no one will pay even $100 for it.
5″x5″ oil on board
I recognize that this is one long, whiny post, but I’m feeling like I need to get this stuff out to move past it. I know I should just be painting for myself for the joy of painting, but I have a whole storage room full of art, and it’s hard to justify making more work that’s going to sit in a dark room where no one will ever see it. Truth be told, I switched to the realist work mostly because I can do smaller pieces that will take up less storage space and because it’s become clear that people aren’t going to embrace my abstract expressionist dancers.
I also recognize that not every gallery is going to be a good fit, so I really need to be submitting to new galleries every week, and then maybe I’ll develop a thicker skin for each new rejection, and eventually, hopefully, I’ll find a gallery that will carry and can sell my work. But for now, I need to nurse my wounds from the latest “no” and figure out how to gather the courage to try again.