Many many weeks ago…
In the land of salsa and tumble weeds….
I felt I had made an artistic breakthrough.
I was going to combine both texture and glazing techniques to give my pure acrylic paintings a more mixed-media look and feel, but then something unexpected happened,…
It started to rain.
This of course slowed the drying time of the acrylic paint. Ever the optimist (yeh, right), I decided to be patient.
Surely, this little bought of wet weather would change the moment we all chose to blink as it always does in South Texas…but…nooooooooo…
It rained again and again.
At this stage, the paint remained tacky. It had an elmer’s glue consistency that when pressed slightly, released the wet paint from the bottom layers to the semi-dry surface.
Darn, I thought, this is going to take a week to dry….and it did.
Despite this annoying setback, I plodded on trying to make the best of the crazy weather conditions that were beyond my control. Still, I longed to finish the painting that I’d started and stepping aside to let the sucker dry was more than my limited patience could bear.
If you have ever found yourself in a similar situation and you are wondering what the heck you are going to do with all that time on your hands that you would have spent painting, drawing, sculpting etc. then consider these helpful common sense suggestions:
1. Become A List Maker
Yes, I know… plopping down on your bottom and writing a list of all the things that you would like to accomplish with your career for the week is a boring and tedious exercise, but it also helps to relieve the anxiety you feel when you are just “floating” through the day with no structure or plans for getting things done. When you know were you are going, you can take the necessary small steps to accomplish larger goals by meeting smaller ones.
2. Organize Your Studio Space
While you are waiting for the paint to dry, the plate to be printed, materials to cure etc., try cleaning up areas in your studio that you will need to use to complete your latest body of work. Even though the thought of meeting hidden dust bunnies and mutant roaches that take up their home in that dark, damp, abandoned corner of your workspace is both scary and at the very least unappealing, the benefits of a clean, uncluttered working environment far outweigh the temporary inconvenience of a much needed “spring cleaning” session.
3. Make a Sketchbook/Artist Book For Each Series / Body of Work
Literally set aside a small economy sketchbook for each series of work that you want to produce. Be sure to sketch out all your ideas for individual paintings, sculpture, ceramics etc. that you want to include in that particular series. Add any comments or information about what inspired you to produce the work. If you are a photographer, you can create a photo journal to help you plan your next photo essay.
4. Research Materials and Content For Your Current Series / Body of Work
Sometimes, it helps to do research on certain topics that you want to discuss with your work. If you are a multimedia artist, and you plan on using materials that you might not ordinarily use that are connected to the subject matter of your series / body of work, you may also wish to do research on
how to properly use these materials. This practice will help you and others to better understand your artistic process. You may also want to add this information to your sketchbook/artist book to refer to at a later time.
5. Look for Galleries and Alternative Spaces to Show Your Completed Work
If have already figured out the style and subject matter of your work, you can begin actively searching for galleries and alternative spaces that are marketing artists creating similar work in the same genre. For example, if you are an artist that produces academic realist paintings of street scenes, you may want to research galleries that sell and promote academic realist paintings. The more specific you are in describing the type of work that you do in a gallery search, the easier it will be to target the gallery that is right for you and your work.
6. Market Your Completed Inventory
Make a list of all of the inventory that you have completed that you would consider selling or exhibiting. Clean and prepare the work for display. Make sure that you have good quality pictures for all of your work. Research juried shows, competitions and online exhibitions to gain exposure for you work.
7. Take Time to Visit Local Galleries and Museums
Apply for membership to your local museums. Make sure to subscribe to the mailing lists of both museums and galleries so that you can be notified of upcoming events that you can attend. This will help you to become a part of your local art community. Often we underestimate the need for contact with other artists and art business professionals.
8. Write an Artist Journal
Write an artist journal addressing the things that you believe are holding you back. As you mention each problem, try to acknowledge you feelings about that particular problem. Then, try to come up with possible solutions to that problem. If the problem is something that is beyond your control, maybe you can think of an alternative activity to pursue or a different way of viewing your situation.
Even though temporary setbacks annoy us because they keep us from working on a piece of art that we want to complete within a certain period of time, sometimes these setbacks force us to deal with other aspects of our career that need our attention. This is especially true if we have been taking the “path of least resistance” approach to our art, avoiding or ignoring these issues because we don’t believe we can be successful at marketing our own work. However, if we want to see progress, we must take risks.
*If you have any comments or questions about this article feel free to contact me, I’d love to hear from you.