I just finished a large body of new work. I have a show coming up in 4 days. Invitations were produced. Some paintings have already sold. I really like what I have made. There have been many conversations with the gallery about pricing, about responses to the work and how the paintings will be hung at the opening.
I even bought a new jacket for the opening. It turned into a several hour ordeal trying to find one that actually fit my tall frame. None did, of course, and so alterations were required. Since June is wedding season, the seamstress brought in to rescue me was incredibly stressed and could only half promise she would be able to pull it off so I could wear it at my opening a mere 4 days away.
Standing on a raised stool in front of a mirror with this panicked woman working around the cuffs of my sleeves, pulling, pinning and tucking the material behind my back, it occurred to me how very far away I presently was from the actual quiet process of making art. And yes, all this peripheral stuff – from promoting your work, occasionally wearing clothes that do not have paint on them as well as trying to create strong Art not just for yourself but also for those who are in the business of selling it – is all part of a career in Art.
But it can sometimes feel hard.
In fact, as I was stuck in traffic driving home afterwards, I was thinking about just how many mini roadblocks seem to pop up in one’s life, especially when you are trying intentionally to make something happen. Involving yourself in a career in Art takes a giant amount of intention. The reserve of energy has to be large enough to overpower the small roadblocks that occur along the way.
Where is this energy, this wave of positivity that can help overcome the obstacles, supposed to come from? It certainly doesn’t come from promoting and talking about your Art. When I spend most of my time on the business side of Art as I have these past few weeks, it is all too easy to forget. Where is the source of intention, faith and positivity? And then I remember. Again.
It comes from making Art. It comes from quiet afternoons in your studio, swimming in the metaphorical world of color, textures, shape and line. It is a world that is a million miles deep but utterly inviting. Art making always seems to reward you with something substantial even if you arrive exactly where you began. It even sometimes gives something unexpected that hints at what is coming but can’t yet be seen.
The roadblocks, in this world, can be more easily over come, as they are your own creation. They lightly topple over when met with new learning. And this maybe is at the heart of it; that learning discovered along the way – our own way – is what makes a career in Art so fulfilling.
At the end of the day it is those still moments, usually when you are by yourself in the quiet of your studio, when you just know that you understand a little bit more. It is clear that above everything else you are continuing to improve and learn. That somehow after all these years, all the tries, that today you got it, the penny has finally dropped. You understand a little bit more. And now your work will never be quite the same again. It is becoming stronger.
Your Art has changed, just when you thought it never could, and not surprisingly, you have too.
In gratitude, Nicholas