There are many times when an idea comes to me in those twilight moments between awake and sleep. It could be just as I am first laying upon my comfy bed for the evening, or at 3 in the morning. This may seem good, and actually it is great for my creative process! I cannot seem to have clearer, more productive thinking than at these moments - just monumental for inventive goals. The obvious down side is being so excited and energized that sleep is not a factor. No turning off the process, once it starts, it just seems to have a life of its own, churning endless more thoughts. I suppose it is better than no flow at all. The other good news is that it doesn't happen every night, although I am sure I could easily generate this wired-up formula anytime.
Last summer I began to use a slightly different mix with my oils. I felt the need to step it up, to give the movement in my brush strokes a more comfortable flow. It's funny how we can get fixed in our ways. I have painted with oils since collage - another lifetime ago, and have varied the paint medium little in all those years. When I was a student, I did what most students do… use the cheapest paint, brushes and the mixers to go with it. For years I used copal to add strength and a slight sheen to the finish, but in its place, walnut oil has been superior, along with a touch of odorless turpentine. Once a piece is finished and cured, a high quality wax seals the finish. To add more to the equation, I have played with oil pencils and oil pastels in the paint. This has proven to give a fresh, and often an illustrative and lively feel to whatever I am painting.
Along with media, what I am communicating has moved into a completely different area. Although I loved doing the migrant worker series, The Unseen, which still has yet to be shown as a body of work. I am giving it much attention lately, as I am hoping to bring this to light by 2014.
There are days when I would rather just sit in front of the TV, work in the yard or go play with friends, go look at art, or just work on something else - anything else. This kind of thing does not usually happen when I have started a new piece, but other things can disrupt the creative vibe. Just life happening. I think it is important for any artist to acknowledge that life has many things to offer, not just the making of art. This thinking would be sacrilege to some of my fellow artist friends, but in truth, it is other things in everyday life that indeed enrich my process. Reading books, being with friends and loved ones (my wonderful grandchildren), having a communion with Nature, and many more beautiful things waiting to be discovered. I accept lazy days when they are needed, and release myself from guilt, knowing that my studio will soon grace my creative energy.
I recently read a very short, well written book by Anne Lamott about prayer, 'Help Thanks Wow'. The world's shortest yet most common prayer, according to this clever writer - "help". Seemed appropriate to put this here. I do not believe that formal education for artists says much, if anything, about promoting one's work. Many young artists have a bizarre fantasy of being discovered, but this is like the little girl waiting for her prince, who will ride up on a white steed and take her away to live happy ever after.
I have heard some art professionals say that an artist should spend as much as 50% of their time promoting their artwork. Wow. I think my jaw dropped to the basement the first time I heard this. I have since closed my mouth and believe I am much better at spending copious amounts of time on this issue, but I am probably doing something more like 20% - 30%… hoping this is enough. The key is being willing to do what it takes to make my "it" happen!
I would have to say, with all that encompasses what I feel is a successful art career - applications for juried shows, grant proposals, non-profit art proposals, gallery proposals, hours of research, emails, phone calls, photos of my work, consistent studio time, building and updating my website, social media exposure and announcements, mailing list growth, a healthy inventory of artwork, reading a lot of related material, multiple trips to galleries, art spaces and museums, for lack of a better word - networking, going to openings, attending artist's talks, taking workshops when necessary, updating my artist statement - often, writing an art (or whatever an artist thinks about) blog, consulting with an art professional, hiring an agent or joining a gallery, joining art organizations, helping other artists, being active in the local art community, even more research and certainly not least on the list - accepting an infinite number of rejections! I know it has been said, the difference between those who succeed and those who fail is the ability to embrace rejection. Not giving up is vital, and yes, even learn from each rejection, if it is only that it pushes one onto the next opportunity.
All of the above. Needless to say, it is always the journey that makes for real happiness, as a human being and as an artist. Even the struggles become a challenge to succeed, and how creative can one be to manage this while still having fun? I love this kind of thing. It's enough to encourage a sleepless night or two. Here's to the journey, whatever yours may be!