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An Age Old Question

[BLOG POST 03/06/24] Being a creative (artist, comedian, actor, photographer, etc) comes with challenges. Not the least of which is the age old question of doing what is in your soul vs. doing what is commercially viable (i.e. what people will pay to see).

Which way is the right way?

Which way is my "true north"?

How do you decide?

As an example, lately I've been approaching different galleries about selling my artwork and each time I get a response similar to "your work is beautiful but it's not a fit for our gallery".

Which seems to be the polite way of saying my work isn't sellable.

At least not in Santa Fe galleries.

I'm not surprised really. Most of the work on display in Santa Fe generally falls into one of three categories:

(1) Abstract - everything from a white canvas to one covered in lots of color,

(2) "Western" - think cowboys, horses, cows, idealized Indians (not real people),

(3) Landscape - ranging from realistic to impressionistic to abstract,

And occasionally I see a few still life paintings of fruit, flowers, or Western artifacts.

None of which calls to my artist soul.

Since my paintings don't fall into any of those categories, I have to choose. Do I continue to paint what has significance and meaning to me knowing that it probably won't sell? Or do I change what I'm painting to "fit in" and chase what is trending in the marketplace.

Sailors call that 2nd option "chasing the wind".

My dad would call it a "fool's errand".

So it's not really a choice is it.

As musician Samantha Leah says in her song "I Choose Me":

Be myself or be someone else

Now which one will I choose

Well if you know anything about me by now

You should probably know the answer is

I know that they might not get it

But I choose me

My compass has to be my heart.

My creative calling.

My unique self.

So dear reader, now that I know my "true north" what will I DO?

Well first and foremost I'll continue being me and creating art that is meaningful to me.

I'll also look for where my creative soul overlaps with what is trending, like landscapes. Being in nature is imperative to my mental and physical health and I keep looking for ways to combine that with my art. There are so many really good landscape artists that I struggle to find something unique in my paintings but I'll keep looking, experimenting, and trying.

As my friend, neighbor and art colleague Ellen Koment advised, "give yourself permission to be surprised". Such good advice! So I'll keep approaching galleries and see what happens. She also says sagely, "it only takes one yes."

Lastly I will keep an eye out for alternative ways to get my art into the public eye like shows, Instagram, presentations, classes, etc.

I believe that as long as there is forward momentum something will happen at some point. I just need to keep taking small steps and give myself permission to be surprised. 😊

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