Next Wednesday, I’ll be conducting the first part of an artistic experiment, and I’m going to need your help. So please, be sure to check back in on the 9th. In preparation for that, I’m posting several of my dancer paintings so that you can get a feel for them. Here is the next one:
abstract art, art, artist, dancers, Dogwood blossom, Emily Page Art, expressionist art, gallery, modern art, oil on board, oil on canvas, oil painting, paint, painting, pity party, realist art, rejection, still life, whining
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.
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.
Phew, glad that’s over. I survived another art show opening reception. I both love and hate them. I love them, because it’s all about ME!!! And I love things that are about me. Really, this blog should be called, LIKE ME LIKE ME LIKE ME. But that’s really the only thing I like about them. You stand around and your feet hurt (I was wise enough not to wear heels this time) and find yourself repeating the story of how the paintings came to be, and while it’s new to each person you’re telling it to, I feel redundant and unoriginal because I know I’ve said the same thing at least eleventy-two times before. They’re awkward as all hell. How do you introduce yourself to strangers that might have questions or be interested in buying? You can’t just walk up and say, “Hi, I’m the artist,” because what if they don’t have questions? I feel like I’m walking up and saying, “Hi, I’m the artist. Now stroke my ego and tell me how amazing my art is.” See? Awkward. New rule: I’m going to wear a hat with flashing lights and arrows pointing at me with “ARTIST” written loud and proud. Then people can come to me. If I’m feeling subtle, maybe I’ll go with a name tag. That’d probably be better. I don’t want them to know that I want it to be all about me.
Last night’s opening happened very last minute, so I sent out a desperate Facebook message to my local friends begging them to come so I wouldn’t stand there looking all sad and pathetic by myself. And they came. And they were awesome. And they regularly kicked me out of the nest to go talk to strangers and do the whole awkward hi-I’m-the-artist thing. And I actually met some pretty cool people. Whoddathunk it? I met a poet whose dad also has dementia and has a blog, so we traded info. And a woman came up to me and gave me a hug, and I had a moment of panic trying to figure out how I knew her, but then I realized she was just hugging me because she felt she’d found a kindred spirit.
But what was super extra cool, is that the pastor from my grandparents’ church in Chicago saw my Facebook begging and told a couple who actually knew my grandparents from Chicago but now live in the Raleigh area. And they came. And they were awesome. And it made me miss my grandparents (both of whom have died) a little, but I had fun telling stories about them and I was grateful that I had stories to tell. The show itself was from my dancer series, which I started because I was paying homage to my grandmother and great aunt from the other side of the family, and I love that I ended up feeling like I had both sets of grandparents there with me.
So all in all, while it was kind of torture, it was good torture, and I feel well loved.