A: I am in the very early stages of a large pastel painting. I have never painted any of these figures before and they originated in different parts of the world. The bird (left) is from the Brooklyn Museum’s store, although it was hand carved in Guatemala. The standing figure is carved wood with beautiful painted details. It was a lucky find on a trip to Panajachel, Guatemala. The armadillo (red and grey) was made by one of my favorite Mexican folk artists (now deceased) and I believe it’s one of the last pieces he completed. It is a papier mâché figure that I found in a small shop in Mexico City. The figure on the upper right is a wooden mask bought from a talkative and talented artist at a hotel in Kandy, Sri Lanka. It depicts nagas (cobras), although you can’t tell that yet in the painting.
Comments are welcome!
* an ongoing series of quotations – mostly from artists, to artists – that offers wisdom, inspiration, and advice for the sometimes lonely road we are on.
You are talented and creative. You rarely block, and when you do block you know how to move yourself along. Your moods are not incapacitating and you haven’t stepped over into madness. Your personality is sufficiently integrated that your necessary arrogance doesn’t prevent you from having successful relationships, your nonconformity hasn’t made you a pariah, and your skepticism hasn’t bred in you a nihilistic darkness. You work happily in isolation but can also move into the world and have a life. You have, in short, met the challenges posed so far.
Are you home free? Unfortunately not. The next challenges you face are as great as any posed so far. They are the multiple challenges of doing the business of art: making money, developing a career, acknowledging and making the most of your limited opportunities, living with compromise, dealing with mass taste and commercialism, negotiating the marketplace, and making personal sense of the mechanics and metaphysics of the business environment of art.
Many artists grow bitter in this difficult arena. Many an artist flounders. Only the rare artist sits himself down to examine these matters, for they are painful to consider. But you have no choice but to examine them. If you are an artist, you want an audience. And if you want an audience, you must do business.
Comments are welcome!
Eric Maisel in A Life in the Arts