Monthly Archives: October 2016

Q: What invaluable art business lesson did you learn in the past year?

Barbara's studio

Barbara’s studio

A:  I have decided that it IS necessary to work with art galleries.  During my thirty years as an artist, I have been represented by two dozen galleries and found most to be disappointing.  For the past few years I have focused extensively on social media and other sorts of creative marketing.  My efforts have built significant name recognition – many more people around the world know about me and my work – but my collector base has not expanded as much as I would have liked.  So I have revised my marketing strategy to include gallery representation.

Comments are welcome! 

Pearls from artists* # 219

Barbara's studio

Barbara’s studio

* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action.  And because there is only one of you in all time, the expression is unique.  If you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost.  The world will not hear it.  It is not your business to determine how good it is; nor how valuable it is; nor how it compares with other expressions.  It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.  You do not even need to believe in yourself or your work.  You have to keep open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you.  Keep the channel open.  No artist is pleased.  There is no satisfaction whatever at any time.  There is only a queer, divine satisfaction, a blessed unrest that keep us marching and makes us more alive than the others.

Martha Graham to Agnes de Mille in Still Writing:  The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life by Dani Shapiro

Comments are welcome!

Q: What advice to you have for younger artists who are just beginning their careers?

Barbara's studio

Barbara’s studio

A:  I have two pieces of advice:

  • Build a support network among your fellow artists, teachers, and friends.  It is tough to be an artist starting out.  Also, be sure to read plenty of books by and about artists.  All have experienced similar challenges.
  • Do whatever you must to keep working – no matter what!  Being an artist never really gets easier.  There are always new obstacles and you’ll discover solutions over time.

Comments are welcome!

 

Pearls from artists* # 218

Untouched sandpaper

Untouched sandpaper

* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

Let go of every should or shouldn’t running through your mind when you start.  Be willing to stand at the base of a new mountain, and with humility and grace, bow to it.  Allow yourself to understand that it’s bigger than you, or anything you can possibly imagine.  You’re not sure of your path.  You’re not even sure where the next step will take you.  When you begin, whisper to yourself:  I don’t know.   

Dani Shapiro in Still Writing:  The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

Comments are welcome!

Q: Start/Finish of “Epiphany,” soft pastel on sandpaper, 38″ x 58″ image, 50″ x 70″ framed

Roughed out in charcoal

Roughed out in charcoal

 

Finished, signed lower left

Finished, signed lower left

 

Pearls from artists* # 217

Barbara's studio

Barbara’s studio

* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

This is true for most artists, not only writers.

What I do know – what I’ve spent the past couple of decades learning about myself – is that if I’m not writing, I’m not well.  If I’m not writing, the world around me is slowly leached of its color.  I am crabby with my husband, short-tempered with my kid and more inclined to see small things wrong with my house (the crack in the ceiling, the smudge prints along the staircase wall) than look out the window at the blazing maple tree, the family of geese making its way across our driveway.  If I’m not writing, my heart hardens, rather than lifts. 

Dani Shapiro in Still Writing:  The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

Comments are welcome!

Q: What’s on the easel today?

Work in progress

Work in progress

A:  I am continuing work on a large (58″ x 38″)  pastel painting tentatively titled, “Blocked.”

Comments are welcome!

Pearls from artists* # 216

Working on "Charade"

Working on “Charade”

* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.

This is true for all artists, not only writers.

The writing life requires courage, patience, persistence, empathy, openness, and the ability to deal with rejection.  It requires the willingness to be alone with oneself.  To be gentle with oneself.  To look at the world without blinders on.  To observe and withstand what one sees.  To be disciplined, and at the same time, take risks.  To be willing to fail – not just once, but again and again, over the course of a lifetime.  “Ever tried, ever failed,” Samuel Beckett once wrote.  “No matter.  Try again.  Fail again.  Fail better.”  It requires what the great editor Ted Solotoroff once called endurability.  It is this quality, most of all, that I think of when I look around a classroom at a group of aspiring writers.  Some of them will be more gifted than others.  Some of them will be driven, ambitious for success or fame, rather than by the determination to do their best possible work.  But of the students I have taught, it is not necessarily the most gifted, or the ones most focused on imminent literary fame (I think of these as short sprinters), but the ones who endure, who are still writing, decades later.

Dani Shapiro in Still Writing:  The Perils and Pleasures of a Creative Life

Comments are welcome!

Q: Do you have a personal definition of art career success?

Barbara at work, Photo: Marianne Barcellona

Barbara at work, Photo: Marianne Barcellona

A:  One definition of art career success that I have enjoyed for many years is the ability to devote all of my time and energy to art-making.  I am an anomaly among the many New York artists of my acquaintance because I do not have a day job.  Also, I am free of family and other responsibilities so I can devote significant time to exploring what it means to be a visual artist in New York in 2016.

Comments are welcome!