Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Art Blog: Making it

As I stated in my last post, I have specific opinions about art and art business. One of the most predominant issues on my mind right now is the issue of “MAKING IT” as an artist. This statement is akin to the query “What is your interpretation of art success?” Well, I can answer that. If I can have enough time to create, produce art, and pay my bills all at the same time, I am really successful. I am MAKING IT.
I love art videos. There is one series called “Art City”. These videos document artists living in New York and showing in prominent exhibitions. As I watch some of these artists on camera, I notice how they mention the financial concerns they have. Some openly speak of the sacrifices they endure to make their art the priority. Some speak of penny pinching or arranging to visit friends to eat. Now mind you, these artists are featured in the documentary. In other words, they are “famous”, yet they are doing their art despite financial concerns. Oh I am sure, they WISH they would hit it big (whatever that means). They haven’t yet. They have gotten press. They are notorious. They are featured in the video. However, the bucks are still not there. So does this mean they aren’t artists of note? No. I don’t think so.
So now we move on to the next topic. MAKING IT. I think about this a lot. I have thought about those who make oodles of money on art. Then I realized they have a few jobs too. Nobody is just an artist. Even if you make art and then sell it (sans another job), you are still doing more than one job. Anybody who has spent time promoting, marketing, and selling their own work, knows this is ANOTHER job.
Making art is one activity. Marketing is a whole, other endeavor. In other words, no matter what your perception of “MAKING IT” is, being alone in your studio making art and living off the proceeds without having to devote any effort or time into making the money is just not going to happen. Even rich artists have a “day job” of sorts.
So it is up to you as an artist to find your niche. If you don’t mind having a job to support your art, pay your bills, and buy art supplies, great. If you chose to live on the proceeds of your entrepreneurial efforts, you do that. However, making art and being in the business of selling that art is more than one job. Yep! It is all good.

I am lucky. I have been so poor, I have had to collect cans to live.
Yes, I sold art at that time. However, the proceeds fell short of living expenses.
I am not worried about that anymore though.
Thank you GOD for allowing me to get older.
Experience is a wonderful thing.

Art Blog: Competition

I just can’t get into this. I just can’t. So much of what is going on in art today has to do with art as a “competition”. I don’t know about you, but I am not competing with ANYBODY. At least, not in regards to what I create.
Who sells the most? Who has the most commissions? Whose blog is the most popular? Whose art is the BEST? Huh???? Best what??
I reviewed my resume today. I noticed the majority of my exhibition listings are in noncommercial or academic galleries. This outcome is very intentional. I feel more comfortable in this kind of gallery. It suits my purposes best. However, it seems a lot of the psychic turmoil I have experienced lately is due to the fact that I am not selling art like it is part of the blue light special at Kmarts. I think I started feeling this in a cumulative way during the past few years I have had an internet presence. The seeming mantra of the art marketing cadre is sell, sell, sell. I have debated. Maybe I should chuck it all and paint angels or kitties. Another option is to find a “hook”. Maybe I should become a palm tree painter. Flamingos? Maybe I need something to paint, paint again, and then again. I could start an art factory and sell paintings like syrupy hotcakes on Ebay. Maybe? Don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying artists who chose to do this are wrong. I am saying that is not my chosen destiny. My art is about something else.
Nope. It ain’t gonna happen. I am not in a race. I am not in competition with anyone. In fact, I don’t even like to enter juried shows that boast of big prizes. This isn’t a contest for me.
I am a painter. I make art. My art expresses my view of the world. If my vision reflects my interpretation of this world, how can anyone compete with me? My primary objective is not making a product. Yes, I make art objects, but I don't think in terms of making widgets to sell. It never was and it will never be. If someone wants to buy an art work, that is wonderful. In fact, I am thankful I have sold as much art as I have in my life. However, the truth be told. Many artists in history who I respect most sold very little art in their lifetime. That does not belittle or devalue what they have accomplished.
I will save the competition for other stuff in my life. Yet still, I only compete with myself. My ego doesn’t need to compare myself with others. Nope. I only want to be the best Sheree there ever was and ever will be. Sounds good to me!! LOL

Even my fitness antics are not competitive. I compete against myself.
I am a unique person. I am like no other. I want to be the best ME. That’s it.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Art Blog: Little Girl Lost

Today I had such a revelation. It is almost as if I have been stung by an electric prod. This magical awakening didn’t happen out of the blue. In fact in retrospect, I can see the series of events that has lead up to this. The reason for this culminating moment is I finally reached the crisis point necessary for change.
Gee, where do I start? I have always been a thinker. Also, I have always been concerned with trying to develop a level of higher consciousness. Years and years ago, I was lucky enough to study Universal Principles and other teachings of spirituality. However I must admit, I learned the information but didn’t always apply it to my life. When I get off on a tangent or allow my ego to try to manipulate my own destiny, I start to spin out of control. Attempting to superficially control everything goes against my own life philosophies and what I know to be true.
Lately, I have been so out of touch with my own beliefs, I have felt like a little girl lost. Today I became aware. Now, things can change.
A month or so ago, Oprah started a series on the book “A New Earth” by Eckhart Tolle. When I heard her advertising the book, I scrunched my nose for a couple of reasons. First, I have done her book club thing before and didn’t like it. Secondly, I had heard about “A New Earth” previous to this promotion. I did a bit of research and found it to be very similar to many of the ideas and principles I already know. So, I tuned out.
Yet my intuition perked up and something started to bother me about my dismissal of this book. I decided to buy it and read it this summer. I glanced through it and decided to check out the Oprah online classes about the book. The webcasts are LONG. I have been watching and watching the first class over and over again. This is what brought about my light bulb moment.
Without getting into the depths and guts of this illuminating book, I must say I have been literally jolted. Yes, I do know a lot of this stuff already. Yes, I have lived this way of life already. I am well aware of egoic dysfunction and collective consciousness. The reason I am wide eyed at the moment is because I realize I am guilty of knowing, but not implementing my own knowledge. I have been constantly judging, labeling, putting all aspects of my life in little boxes, and being concerned with future instead of experiencing the present moment. I have allowed myself to live in my head and be very ego driven especially in the past year. I truly have felt numb. I know better.
It is time for me to stop and feel my own breath. I need to enter the present moment. I need to stop thinking so much and just allow myself to BE. Of course, the principles in this book are very detailed and complicated. There are many processes to learn, accept, and apply.
If you are interested in knowing more, go to Oprah’s website and find the Tolle webcasts. I have also put a link for the book below.

Now what does all this have to do with my art? EVERYTHING! Allowing my ego to get involved in my art life has caused so much psychological pain. For example, when I was a young girl, I would paint to paint. I was always in the moment. I would focus on the paint moving around the canvas. I smelled the paint. I would feel the textures and hear the sounds of art working. I didn’t care if I made a mistake or what people thought. I just made art because it is what made me feel alive. Now, I question every stroke. I am rarely in the moment. I am thinking about the finished product. I am thinking about what I am going to work on next. I am thinking about how the work will be received. Unintentionally, I have conditioned myself to be detached to the joy of the process. I have desensitized myself to the essences of the experience I love most in the world: CREATING.

Click to read more about “A New Earth”

Monday, April 21, 2008

Art / Fitness Blog: Being Worth It

I am going to post this entry on both my art and fitness blogs. This is because it relates to both mindsets. Have you ever denied yourself something for whatever reason? I have! Shoot…. For years, I would never buy fresh cherries because they were too expensive. I LOVE cherries. Yet, I would never buy them. They were just too costly. I guess I thought I didn’t deserve them(?)
Today, I bought and unpacked a set of silverware. Now, I am not talking about SILVER. This set is just plain, ole, trailer trash, stainless steel silverware. Do you know I have lived 34 years of adult life and I have never had a full set of silverware! NEVER! I have always been so frugal and mindful of being poor, I have denied myself of many simple pleasures.
You see if I needed silverware, I would go to the Salvation Army or the local thrift store and pick up a few knifes or spoons. Consequently, I have always had drawers full of mismatched utensils. It never bothered me. After all, I was interested in function, not beauty.This month I was making dinner and realize I only had ONE fork. I guess I have been throwing my forks away when I clean my plates(?) Who knows. It has to be my fault. I am the only one who lives here!! LOL LOL
I came to the conclusion that I had to go buy some silverware. A brilliant idea came to me. I told myself “Sheree, go to the store and buy a whole set of silverware!!!!”. Now, this might seem obvious or even stupid to some readers. However, it is the truth!
Why did it take me so long? The reason I have always put it off is because silverware is expensive. I always had other bills that needed to be paid. I had priorities. However right now, I have enough money to buy a set. Also, I FINALLY realize

I am WORTH it!

Oh Yeah!!!!!

Are you worth it?

Friday, April 18, 2008

Changing HATS

First, I feel like I need to apologize. Why, I really don’t know. However, I have been keeping this blog for over a year and I don’t think I have ever gone this long between posts. I feel sorry. I feel sorry for anyone who reads this blog and I feel sorry for me. I feel sorry that my mind was in other places. In fact, that makes me sad. This is where my heart is.
Any artists who had to work other jobs to survive might be able to understand. I am an artist. I am also a teacher. Usually, I do a fast dance to keep all the aspects of my life moving and jumping. However sometimes, I need to focus on one thing. If it has to do with my day job, it is very probable that I am not jumping in voluntarily. It is more like I need to do the deed for work. Since that is where I get most of my money, I do whatever needs to get done.
For the past few months, I have been working on a big project for my day job. The culminating finale is happening right now. I have been devoting every morsel of energy I have to this project. Thus, my art was put on the back burner. YEP! It happens. Like I said before, anyone who works a job will understand. As I sit and write this entry, I can say it is the first time in weeks I haven’t had work to do on this project. I feel relieved; I feel satisfied; I feel resentful. Yes, I feel all this rolled up into a huge ball of emotional energy. Ka-BOOM!!! Tonight, I went out to the patio and began thinking of what I wanted to accomplish this weekend. I thought about the work sitting in my studio. I thought about some tips and advice a friend gave me this week via email. I thought about the direction I want my paintings to go. I thought about where I want to show my work this year. I thought and thought and thought. I remembered how this life of living two careers is a tricky one. It takes time to switch “HATS”. This is why vacation time is so vital. It takes me a few days just to get into the mental groove of what I want to do next with my art. Weekends are wonderful, but trying to make substantial progress towards long term goals doesn’t happen in two days.
This time every year, my mind starts to take a major shift. This “thinking” I was doing today is not only about this weekend. It is about plotting and planning my summer ATTACK. It is kind of funny. As artists we already have so much to think about and do. Yet when another job becomes a part of the mix, it can be almost overwhelming. That is why you need to know how to change hats quickly.

SHEREE the Master Hat Changer!
I think one of my future posts should be about “JUGGLING”! LOL LOL LOL

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Love/Hate Relationship

I know. I know. I know. If you read this blog, you know I have bitched and moaned about my day job. It isn’t really about not loving what I do. I think my discomfort is more about being frustrated because I can't do what I WANT to do full time.
I suppose it could be worse. Actually, I am luckier than many. I teach emotionally disturbed students in a special education school. I started teaching through the back door. Way back in the day, I got a call to teach in the Pontiac School System. They didn’t have art teachers. They wanted to have an artist-in-residence program to make up for the lack of art in the everyday curriculum. I signed up and did the job. That was many years ago. I didn’t want to teach. I never did. I got paid. That was enough.
After this experience, I went on to teach at a private school and at the college level. I loved both jobs. However, I was more than devastated when my college jobs were cut. I was devastated. Yes. I was devastated.
After being cut for economic reasons from the last college position, I moved to Florida. I had absolutely no intention of teaching ANYTHING. I hated it. I hated it. Did you hear me? I hate teaching. Yet for some weird, bizarre turn of events, I was hired to teach in the public school system. I wasn’t even certified! I had never had an education class in my life. Yet, I was hired.
Of course, I had to GET certified. I did. In fact, I got certified in a few areas. I did this because it offered security, health insurance, and a retirement plan. Yet, I still hate it in some ways. However, it is wonderful all at the same time. Since, I teach at a special education school it is very unique and special. I love this population. Also, the classes are smaller, albeit more violent and disruptive.
OK..yep….I have had to deal with that for 15 years. YES!! I have been there for 15 years. I have no idea how I lasted so long. I did though. Today, a colleague snapped this pic of me working with a student. This child is 6 years old and has the developmental skills of a 2 year old. Oh no, he is not mentally retarded or anything like that. The reason he is behind is because he has not developed the simple skills most children get when they are toddlers. Nope. For some reason(?)(No comment), he has not been given the simple lessons of preschool life. No No NO! He is still a baby. He is struggling to figure out the world. I am helping him do that with things like clay and various media. BTW. I HATE clay too. However, I learned a long time ago, you gotta do what you gotta do. Boy! Is that the truth!!! LOL LOL LOL

This is the distillate. I look at this picture and realize why I have hung around at my lame “day job”. It isn’t lame at all. It serves a purpose. I am so good at what I do. I am leaving a trail of breadcrumbs. Yep, you can follow me! There are human beings from my past teaching experiences living all kinds of lives right now. Sometime there will be moments when they remember our experiences together. I know this for sure. I already have older kids come to my art room and say “REMEMBER WHEN WE DID….”
Yep. I already have a legacy.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

ART Success vs. ART Respect Pt. 2

This entry is part 2 of an entry about art success. I spoke about the newsletter Artist’s At Work (via Gyst) in part 1. This entry is about my personal feelings about art fame, art success, and art respect.
I don’t think I ever wanted to be famous. Well, it would be nice, but I don’t think it would be possible. It doesn’t fit with my personality. I don’t want to do the things needed to create or maintain that status. I have never been willing to kowtow to anybody. I am not an ass kisser. I never developed the skill of obsequiousness. I see everyone on an equal plane. I can’t get into the celebrity thing. I just can’t. I always thought it is so weird to even get an autograph. Huh? Why would you want something like that? I have never cared or understood the motivation of these kinds of behaviors. Likewise, I don’t see “art stars” as being better than me or you or the homeless guy who is living under the overpass. We are all just human beings trying to live and survive. Period. I honestly believe this.
A number of things happened this week that brings this topic to a head for me. After speaking about “Otto” and his one man show, there is a moment in his final video he slowly looks around the gallery. His voice echoes in the empty room. There is nothing there except him and his work hanging on the walls. There is a tiny bit of sadness in his eyes. He was speaking about getting the work done and getting the show hung. As he pans the room, he tells of how the show opened early during spring break. The show is at a university gallery. He goes on to say not many people have been to the gallery to see the work yet. You can see a slight bit of let down in his eyes. Then, he says something like “I guess we have to wait for the opening.” I know that feeling. We do all this work and then we are disappointed when there are no trumpets or angels singing or big BANG! Every artist experiences this. There is this momentary let down. It is as if despite our exhaustion, we want to stand in the middle of the gallery and scream as loud as possible
Aren’t I????”

Well, I would say YES, you are. However, I see art stardom differently than most people. I think doing the work, having a clear vision, and creating concrete representations of that vision is a massive feat. It should be rewarded. However when you do accomplish this, it is rare a golden beam of light falls from the heavens and adorns you with a glittery halo. That is VERY RARE. So you have to see art stardom in a healthier more realistic way.
The topic here is fame vs. respect. Now I understand this comparison. It would be nice to be an art star, but what I really want is art RESPECT. I know a lot of art stars who are buffoons or publicity mongers or egomaniacs. Also, fame is most often fleeting. I don’t want my life to be wrapped around some shallow fantasy. I want to be respected as an artist. In the long run, I would like other artists to say, “She did a good job!”; “She hung in there!” “She made her mark.” “She was an artist’s artist!” I guess I just really want to be remembered as a valuable artist and human being.
Another thing that happened this week that ties into this topic is the whirlwind art fair circuit happening in New York. James Kalm of Half Ass Productions fame has been riding his bike to all the shows. As I watch video after video, I notice there is too much art(?) out there. I experience visual overload. As I scan the walls of each show video he presents, I think to myself “I bet every one of those artists wants to be an art star! WOW!” They all want that elusive brass ring of art success. I wish them all well. I might not be famous, but I am a successful artist. In fact,
I am an ART STAR in my own mind!!

Watch the latest James Kalm production
One of a zillion shows during this art fair season

ART Success vs. ART Respect Pt. 1

My BFF Gilda sent me a newsletter today. The newsletter is published by GYST, an artist run business selling software for artists (Click photo below to be directed to the newsletter website). I skimmed this issue and it is fantastic! I immediately went to their website and downloaded all five existing issues. I even checked out the artist’s software. That is COOL too!
The fact that she sent me this newsletter is so synchronous. The topic of this issue is FAME. For those who have read my blah blahs here know I have danced around the topic of fame. I don’t mention it specifically because I don’t have personal experiences to relate. I am not a famous artist. If you are, please tell me your secrets!! LOL Another reason I don’t delve into this topic is because I am confused by it. To be truly honest, I want art respect more than I want art fame. I will explain this in part 2 of this post. I am old and experienced enough to have seen the workings of the art biz. I have been acquainted with a few “famousish” artists. I have seen some artists rise to be included in important exhibitions. I have met a few artists on the covers of art magazines. I have watched videos of celebrated artists who still live rather meager lives except for the golden spotlight shining on them. Yes, I am confused. What is art fame? What is art success? What do either really look like? Are famous artists more important than unfamous artists?
I took a closer look at the current “Artists At Work” newsletter. One article worth reading is Karen Atkinson’s “Fame: The Good, Bad, and Ugly”.
This quote stood out:

“Unfortunately, for a long time now, a single trajectory has become the ideal for a lot of students. It goes like this: go to art school, get a gallery before you graduate, sell out your show, get as many reviews as possible and network your way to fame, or else forsake your career.”

Oh boy!! Do I understand this! I don’t want to repeat all her thoughts. She explains them very well in the article. I think the article tells it like it is and I agree wholeheartedly. Read the article. It is worth the time.
Meanwhile, I am going to cut this short and write a part 2 to this entry. I have so much more to say. LOL

P.S. THANK YOU GILDA!!! This newsletter is a great resource and a very fun read!!

Click to go to GYST
You will find the newsletters there.