Just a Field, 2007, Oil on Panel, 8x10
I think that after yesterday's post, I might sound as if I am on the edge. I am not at all and the ear reference was just a joke. Really.
The truth is, how I feel about my work is very fluid, yet not. Overall, I am exceedingly pleased with what is happening. And on a day to day basis I am pretty solid. But some days can be good and some be a real drag. I can feel super confident, rather than just my usual normal confidence (which is what allows me to put myself and my work out there). The super confident days usually happen when I have some kind of success, perhaps a good sale, a near sell out show, a good review or high praise. That sort of feedback is great and is really exciting, but can also be the most damaging to my work, much more so than self-doubt. I get an attitude and then I have a tendency to not put everything that I can into my work on those days, because, well I am feeling like everything I do is great so why bother. You see? Attitude. I have to work hard to keep that in check. The best and most productive confidence comes from having an excellent day in the studio finishing one or more real kick ass paintings and I am more productive, I suspect, because the confidence comes from within, rather than being a reaction to an outside event.
There are a similar variety of bad days too. The bad days that make me doubt myself and what I am doing come from outside forces, like being turned down by a gallery or thinking that I should really be selling much more work than I do, don't really bother me so much that it affects my work in the studio. If it does, it is to spur me on a bit and get me to work harder. So it becomes a positive. The bad days that come within, for example after struggling with a painting or being frustrated by color happen often enough, but usually pass fairly quickly and there is often a corresponding leap in quality and/or productivity. Getting over the hump I guess.
And none of this is written in stone of course. A bad painting day can happen after hearing about a sale or I can be feeling super confident for no good reason whatsoever. Fluidity.
With the exception of post show meltdowns, which are much worse after a good show by the way, none of these events really affect me for any length of time. I have enough life experience (raising four kids!) and I have enough self-discipline that I can work through these minor ups and downs. And I do consider them minor. While my feelings yesterday, concerning getting work back from a gallery affected me and was something that was on my mind enough to write about it, it didn't affect my studio time (um, well except that I didn't really get to the studio, but that was because I had laundry to catch up on and important work to do on the computer all day. Heh) and won't be a problem that will stick with me. Other issues will move me along, such as planning the work for an upcoming show, gathering the tax info or deciding what to make for dinner and will it be something that everyone will eat or will someone end up with cereal?
So really there is no tortured artist's life here. Perhaps by writing about my feelings of demoralization gave it more importance than it really has to me. I just wanted to explain some of the things that I go through while trying to have some kind of art career. Getting unsold work back from a gallery is one of the things that art school did not cover.
And while this art career thing is very important to me, I will not be cutting off an ear for it. I have nicely shaped ears and it would be a real shame to mess up the perfect pair.