Sunday, February 23, 2014

Open for Business

As you may recall Handsome Husband and I traveled to Dallas to experience an exhibit of Joaquin Sorolla’s paintings  put together by Meadows Museum. 

I purchased "Sorolla, The Masterworks" as a memento of a terrific weekend with one of the greats. (Well, four of the greats; HH, Sis, Sis’s HH and Sorolla.)

One entry in the book caught my eye, a quote from Sorolla himself:

“In all reality I do not appear to be an artist. I am more adherent to rules than a soldier…”

An artist saying that?  

And this statement by the author (and granddaughter of Joaquin), Blanca Pons-Sorolla: 

“The enormous output of which he was capable can only be explained by the fact that he was a person who…lived an organized life”.

In this age of breaking rules for no other reason than to say we broke a rule, of going with the flow even if it means flowing right down the drain, and doing whatever it is that makes you feel good, these statements stood out like a Rembrandt at MOMA. Rules? Schedules? Organized? 

Joaquin Sorolla created over 4,000 art pieces in his career and in my humble opinion some of the finest artwork ever painted. You don’t do that by “flowing”.  

After the holidays I threw my schedule to the winds for no apparent good reason. While it felt good for a week or two, it didn’t take long for me to see that if I wanted to move forward, I’d have to have a plan. That plan included a calendar and a clock. 

I’m back at it now, showing up for work just like the folks at the local grocery store and lumber yard. I may never have 4,000 paintings and drawings to put my name on but it’s a sure thing I won’t unless I decide it’s important enough to set some rules. 

1. Be in charge of your own schedule.
1. Show up on time. 
2. Paint. 
3. Read about painting when you’re not painting. 
4. Let the phone ring. Email can wait. Allow the dishes to soak another hour or two. Clean laundry
      is for sissies. 

“A schedule defends from chaos and whim. It is a net for catching days. It is a scaffolding on which a worker can stand and labor with both hands at sections of time.”

By the way, a quick perusal of Ms. Dillard's web site offers this nugget:  "I ... can't write by request, and can't answer letters. I've got to read and concentrate..."

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Just Me

I'm outstanding in my field.

Jason Horejs, of  Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale and the author of Red Dot blog, recently offered the opportunity to get in on the ground floor of an e-course he is developing for folks like me. Our participation would be free while he irons out the kinks of his new class. Being congenitally cheap I jumped on the opportunity to learn from someone whose blog I’ve enjoyed for several years. I appreciate that Jason has his feet firmly planted on the ground. He’s been in the gallery business for over 20 years  and shares his insight willingly.

Right off the bat I learned that free doesn’t mean easy.

Our first task was to describe ourselves in a couple of sentences. No sweat. I’ve known me pretty well for quite a long time. 

Then Jason asked: What is your greatest challenge? And the kicker - I must limit myself to one short paragraph.

The first thing that popped into my head was: Just one? Followed quickly by, "How many pages can one paragraph be?"

If you’re like me, you’ve got many challenges. Among those that popped into my head without any effort were: How to keep showing up; how to know whether I’m on the right path; how to price; how to find that perfect gallery relationship; how to get the lid off that blasted tube of blue paint; how to close the sale; how to get that blue paint off my elbow; whether juried shows are worth the effort, (how did that blue paint even get on my elbow?), what kind of frame is appropriate; how to talk intelligently about my artistic process; how much time should I spend marketing; do I have to send out a newsletter; should I give up and take that job at the grocery store?

And I was just getting warmed up.

Presumably Jason does not have all day. I get one short paragraph. I’ve got to distill all of those worries down to one single challenge. 

What’s is the crux of my concern?

In a word, isolation. 

I live miles from anything that could be considered an art hub. It's more than that though.
There is so much that no one else can do for me. Whatever decision gets made, ultimately I’m the one who has to make it. From what kind of computer to purchase to working through a style to buying supplies to how to get that blasted lid off, it’s all on me.  Handsome Husband is always there, that’s true. And yet, despite his kind dedication to cheering me on, I’m the one – the only one – whose name goes on the finished product.

I’m the one who picks me up when I’m down, challenges me when I don’t think I’m working hard enough, and pats me on the back when I’ve worked too hard. No wonder I’m pooped.

And despite the vastness of the world wide web, where friendships can be made from all over the universe, there’s something to be said for closeness, for sitting down over a cup of tea to have a conversation, or even just to sit in the same space and smile across a table or trade an understanding nod, or help an artist friend get that blue smear off her elbow.