Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Needin' a Break

I belong to a number of online forums for artists. One of these leans toward artists who do most/all of their selling at outdoor art shows.

Several times on this particular forum, I've expressed dismay at how the art business in general is going downhill, but especially in this economy. Others have since joined in, but this post sounds very much like some I wrote a few years ago:

I am 50+ and due to the art SELLING business I feel like an old old 50+. I never thought I would be making less money with 2 refined mediums then I did with my crude art 30 years ago.

For the first time in many years, I am worried about paying for booth fees ... Like most artists, I am a survivor and an optimist. The problem is I am not sure any more if I will survive and pessimism has started to creep into my soul. For the first time, I do not think our industry will bounce back when the economy gets better. I just don't see people buying "situms" and "wall pretties" with any sort of enthusiasm again even when they have money.

My last art show effort was early in 2007. After that, it became obvious I was essentially flushing my money down the toilet. (In case you never heard, we artists rent our spaces at $200-600 or more for the duration of the show). And at the last outdoor show, I didn't sell a thing. I lost the entire bundle.

For a variety of reasons, I think I need a serious break from art. Not that I want to quit art, but I do need to get away from it for a while.

I had planned on doing that this summer, but I was offered two separate one-man shows in September. So I've been trying to make enough paintings to fill both shows, but it's been tough to face those blank canvases. I'm burned out these days -- I'm sure it hasn't helped that I've been painting full-time for almost ten years, and the sales, slow in the beginning (as I'd expect in any new business), have dwindled to almost zero.

A break will be a good thing -- at least I hope so. I did offer to make some bibically-themed paintings for our church, and I still want to do that. But I won't put myself under pressure to crank out paintings any more because a show is coming up and I've just GOTTA work myself into the ground to get ready. Enough!

I expect, too, that I'll still produce paintings, but at a much slower and comfortable rate. No more working far into the night, all day, weekends and holidays -- which is how it's been for me while in, and since, grad school, which I finished in 1986, for cryin' out loud!

Most importantly, I want to improve my quality and work at doing figurative work, which is definitely a weak area in my background.

Here's to better art -- and art buyers. Someday.


Susan Marie Wells said...

I agree with you, Mark. All the paradigms are shifting in the art world. One thing that is not moving around and that is the hunger for true stories of real life overcomers and heroes.
If it is any comfort any really great artist suffered to make a living until some benefactor with an eye for greatness came along. Enjoy your break, it's part of your journey.

kozokov said...

An interesting blog. As for break I don't think you can take it a long, artist is always eager to find something in the around and to depict it. Good luck with your shows and have a nice holiday ))