It’s lunch now, and I’m sitting here in the studio on a brisk Monday formulating this post in my head. I just got an email from the Illinois Watercolor Societies’ Tony Armendariz, informing me that my painting ‘Reading Time’ was juried a merchandise award at the 2010 Members Show in Chicago this last Friday. That is a pretty wonderful thing, but it made me think of how many 1000’s of other artists are competing for attention and recognition just in Illinois alone, let alone the rest of the country. How can I rise up to be noticed? I don’t think I have reached far beyond my family and friends as far as my trade name goes in the art world.
Is it luck that some artists become up and coming on the national scene, is it ambition, or perhaps it is pure talent, or could it be knowing the right people at the right time? I think from where I am standing, looking up from the first rung on the ladder of art success, is that success itself is easy to talk about, difficult to visualize and exceedingly tough to make a reality. Art has never been a necessity for people, it’s a luxury and in tough economic times, even my art budget suffers.
I believe the ingredients to art success, ought to start with some technical ability first, followed by creativity, discipline, business smarts and last but not least, exposure. I’m sure there are plenty of ‘closet’ artists out there who are brilliant, yet their work is remains unknown and unappreciated by others because of a lack of exposure. The art world seems fickle; some artists are embraced by the critics, the masses and even fewer reach fame, all for a variety of reason. Other artists are overlooked, perhaps undeserving so the question remains why? I don’t have the answers, so I can only speculate. There is a wealth of information out there if your willing to look for it, which I have made every attempt to do. I do think timing as well as knowing the right people along with a bit of luck along the way helps a great deal.
After the twenty year art drought ended for me back four years ago, the notion that I was not good enough began to erode away, but it took four years, a few awards and a lot of compliments from strangers to really break free of that mindset. Today, on this cool Monday, I no longer think that my work is substandard to my peers, or that I should give up my dreams. Rather I am beginning to think more positively and pursue opportunities that are sitting there waiting for me. The AWS and NWS organizations come to mind, as does the plethora of artist magazines who sponsor calls to artists every year. The watercolor societies I’m already a member of have great shows, which I have been privileged to be part of, at the national and membership levels. Then there is the festival circuit, which has been a nice revenue generator for me. Toss in a web site, maybe a good blog, even a studio and the willingness to travel to shows in larger cities and I think I have all the necessary ingredients to continue to grow and take a few more steps up the ladder. No one is going to promote me other than me, and the notion that some rich patron will sweep me off my feet and carry me to the New York art scene is ridiculous.
Yet, there is still doubt… When I dropped off my painting to the IWS show Friday, I had the chance to walk the show and view all of the 42 paintings there, and by god many of them were damn good. I immediately picked out my favorites and knew that ‘winning’ something would be a challenge for anyone in the show. Yet I felt I was in good company, and had a competitive chance at being noticed. So when that email from Tony arrived in my inbox, it put a smile on my face.
So now what? Well I need to paint more as I have already preached about here in the past. Some paintings come easy, along with the ideas to create them; other times, everything becomes a struggle and it feels as if the work will never get done. Therein lies the discipline to work through the lulls and keep focused on goals and improving with each piece I paint. I still remember my New Years resolution to paint one painting a month and read a book a month. I have failed both, but marginally with the paintings and significantly with the reading. If by December I can finish another five to six pieces, I will have been successful. Presently I’m still working on ‘The Collector’, (see below):
In Progress photo of my latest watercolor painting
I’ve considered renaming this to “Lord of the Books’ but it sounds a bit cliché. What do you think about the names? Do they matter really? Post a reply here with your choice of name or if you have another in mind by all means say so. Wow… that was two posts in two days, what the hell is wrong with me. >;-] Maybe I should take a blog break until December! Just kidding, I’ll be back around here soon. Cheers.