Q: If you knew that you would never sell another pastel painting, would you still make them?

Preliminary sketch and photo

Preliminary sketch and photo

A:  This is an interesting question to ponder in August when the art world is on vacation.

Certainly I would continue (reread my blog post of July 25th), but I wouldn’t bother to make them if one unrelated thing were true:  that I knew beforehand what they would look like.  Then the process just wouldn’t be very interesting.

Each pastel painting is an exploration, a journey with a point of departure.  My reference photo and preliminary sketch serve as guides, but creating a painting is like making a voyage with only the roughest of maps.  As I work, new possibilities open up that take the painting  – and me – to places that could not have been imagined.      

Comments are welcome!         

About barbararachkoscoloreddust

Barbara’s thoughts on art, the creative process, soft pastel, the inspiration she finds in travel, what it’s like to be an artist in New York City, and other wisdom for artists as we travel our solitary and sometimes lonely roads.

Posted on August 29, 2015, in 2015, An Artist's Life, Art Works in Progress, Black Paintings, Creative Process, Pastel Painting, Photography, Studio, Working methods and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Barbara, this is a terrific question. It addresses the mind-bending subject of rewards, and what we artists consider an award, and whether thinking of a sale or a “like” as a reward hooks us and makes us addicts of past successes.

    I just read a wonderful book, On Kindness, by Adam Phillips; it’s a tiny book with a ton of mind-fodder! Why do we do things for other people?

    Little story from my early artist days: My rather personal painting won a first and was displayed prominently at a pretty high-profile art festival. Before I even photographed it, it sold, and the buyer asked me to come show him the rest of my portfolio. Well, I did. He was not impressed. That was it. Soooo. In my mind I thought “I must make more paintings like that one so I can sell more and not disappoint the buyers/collectors.”

    Wrong. But I had to find out that it was wrong. My motivation was not to make a passionate, expressive painting with my heart and soul any more, but to make a painting that would sell! The art spirit was disappointed with me. It did not work!

    Success can stunt one’s growth! It takes a humbled head to realize that.

    Learning to be more humble…Susan

    • Susan, early on in my art career I had something similar happen. A couple bought a charcoal drawing of mine. I had made it strictly for myself – as an homage to a favorite artist – and if I do say so, it was a terrific piece! Well, they decided to commission a companion drawing. I found a subject and made another charcoal drawing. My heart was just not in it and it showed! Still, I sent them the drawing. They told me how disappointed they were, so I took my drawing back and refunded their money. I never again made a piece of art strictly for money. To this day I turn down all commissions.

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