Tuesday, September 17, 2013

You're Not Alone

September Morning  
©2013 Cat Tesla
Isn't it great when you have a good show where your artwork is selling well? There's a sense of thrill, the acknowledgement of people who "get" your visual voice, and all that empty space in your studio when you return home. I call it "the artist's high".

Then there are the shows where you're not feeling the love, where there are more crickets in your booth/gallery than potential collectors, and you're mentally exhausted 2 hours into the show. Self-doubt creeps in, and you're re-evaluating your entire body of work. You drive home from the art show thinking "I suck". Unsuccessful shows - those that don't turn out the way you hoped - happen for a number of reasons. (Poor attendance, bad weather, conflicts in schedules with other events, and regional differences in tastes in art explain much of this.)

I've had plenty of both of the above experiences. And my guess is, so have you. You're not alone. For me, the key to moving forward in both situations is surprisingly similar. One of the first things I do is something active:  gardening, yoga, taking a walk. In one instance I'm exuberant, and the other I'm burning off steam. The next thing I do is jot a few notes in my journal. Again, I might be writing words of gratitude, or I might be sulking and second guessing after an unsuccessful one. (It's hard not to when you've put all that work into a show!) Either way, I own it. Then, I give myself space to drift. This may include laying on a beach towel looking up at the sky and seeing various shapes/animals in the clouds, watching reruns of Seinfeld, doodling, or reading a good book. By the time the sun rises again, I've got plenty of new ideas and I'm ready to get back into the studio and get to work. After all, there are other shows, other gallery receptions, and other opportunities waiting for you.

"As long as you can start, you are all right. The juice will come." ~Ernest Hemingway

"You don't have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great." ~Zig Ziglar

:"When artists step into their workspaces they enter a unique and private world of think and do. For some artists, a few minutes are all that is needed to shake off the outside clutter. Others never do and their art may suffer for it. It's my view that a sense of purity and ego-force, unsullied by guilt or anger, is vital to the free flow of creativity and productive work. The result of this clarity is a steady and almost dreamlike flow of one thing after the other. Think and do. Think and do. Think and do."  ~Robert Genn