Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Evolve

A little while back, I had a wonderful collector write to me. He has been an avid supporter of my work, but also a very enthusiastic champion of my growth as an artist.
I know, I'm lucky.
He wrote to me, and after seeing the turnout of the sales for my last show, expressed some interest/concern. Basically, he wrote that many artists seem pretty able to handle disappointment  when it came to their art. It is, in a way, what fuels many of us and makes us stronger. Success, on the other hand, is something that many artists simply cannot handle.
I'm not saying I'm super-successful, not by a long shot. And I don't think he was implying that either. But over the past year, sales of my work have come easier, something I am incredibly grateful for.

Still, what he wrote got me thinking. Why would this be? Why would success be harder on creative people than disappointment?

Well, I'm not therapist (although I love to act like one, unfortunately), but I think I may be going through a very, very small example of this.

Simply put, to be successful, you must be open. And being open means you will change. And changing means you will be uncomfortable and probably leave a lot of the things that made you successful the first time around.

I showed with two other women last november. For some reason, I really threw myself into this work.  I really tried to fearlessly explore and not identify myself too much as "this kind of painter" . I tried to paint things I would want to look at.
And so, most of my work sold. And I celebrated this! It has been a long, uphill battle, and will continue to be, and we have to celebrate those kind of moments, right?!
The day after the opening, the gallery asked me to do a solo show in July. I have never done a solo. Of course I was thrilled, and still am. I'm grateful beyond words at having my career take this shift in pace.

That said, things have taken an interesting turn.

I'm on a schedule of about one painting a week right now, which is a lot of work. I don't think I'm really too scared to work in this way though.
What I have found, is that I have been trying to copy myself. All that openness and fearless exploration from before has turned into me going to my own website to see how I "used" to paint.

WTF?!?!?!?!?

That's pretty backwards if you think about it, but probably pretty normal. We try to replicate the things that took us to good places in our lives, right? But that is anti-change in a lot of respects. I'm not claiming that we have to reinvent ourselves every time some event comes around. Far from it. But I do know that I have a tendency to want to hold on to something very specific and very limited to give me some sort of grasp on a situation. This one has to do with success, in some way. I want more success. I got success doing abc… so let me copy that abc... verbatim!

I think this can carry over to lots of other parts of life. A relationship that may have given you butterflies when it started may not do the same thing years later. If you try to make sure you will get this urge, you may be forcing something that has already evolved.

I guess I like and fear that word, "Evolve". It has this warm, fuzzy sort of greatness to it in concept, but in reality it is terrifying. And one can feel pretty lost on exactly HOW to evolve.
I reached out to some female painting friends of mine recently with this dilemma. I got so much wonderful feedback, but what really stuck out in my head is from a woman named Alia El-Bermani. She wrote to me that maybe what I was doing wasn't so much that I was having to find what  my exact voice was, but rather I was finding what I DIDN'T want to say, and how I didn't want it to sound, which is evolution as well...

One good thing about being really unsure about this work I do is that I remember THAT was part of the recipe in creating open paintings.
I can say so far that although I am grateful for any amount of success I have been experiencing, I think in some ways it is harder not to hold on tighter to outcomes.
So I guess that collector has a point.

Another thing Alia sent me was a video of a quote of Ira Glass. Enjoy! This made me cry:)