Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Piling On" on the Field of Art

To tell you the truth, 2007 was a difficult year. Nothing really tragic happened, but somehow I struggled through the whole year never quite understanding why until I did my annual year end assessment in January. That’s when I realized that one by one the setbacks and disappointments had piled on one another, never giving me a chance to recover in between.

2006 had been a difficult year, too. My 92 year old mother declined rapidly and had to be put in a nursing home. We three sisters had to clean out her apartment and dispose of her worldly possessions which felt like we were erasing what was left of our parents’ lives. My computer hard drive died and I was forced to upgrade the operating system on the new drive and upgrade all my software. I haven’t yet had the time to learn it all again and can’t yet properly print my reproductions and business cards.

Wisely, I made the decision in early 2007 to cut back on marketing and showing in order to build up new inventory of artwork, but that never happened. Starting in January the piling on began. I learned about a local equine art show that I wasn’t invited to enter. It seems there were politics involved, and the curator only invited her “friends”. Next, I lost my only gallery because I hadn’t provided him with anything new for quite a while. But the biggest blow to my ego and self esteem happened a few months later when I lost a portrait commission because I’d taken so long to get to it. It was mortifying; something that had never happened before.

The final piling on was like a three hundred pound linebacker landing on top of the heap. In fact, I wrote about it back in January, but it is still a sore issue. In July I was contacted by a licensing agent who was wildly enthusiastic about my art and made big promises about making me into the next Chris Cummings of the licensing world. It seems she knew far less about equine art licensing than she let on, and I was never able to pin her down as to which of my images I should send her for the big branding promotion she promised. I finally sent her some images and waited and waited. Finally she informed me that the images weren’t suitable and that I hadn’t sent enough to launch a branding campaign. A short time later she rudely cancelled the contract, by email no less, blaming me for her failures. After all the time I’d spent doing research on licensed horse images and my own sales records and planning out paintings for licensing, I was both humiliated and furious. Now I’m glad to be rid of her; a person I wouldn’t want to do business with anyway.

There were a number of other setbacks over the year but these are the major ones, all art related. Confidence in the quality of my art and in my ability to succeed as an artist was shaken at the beginning of the year and never had a chance to recover. Is it any wonder that I found it so difficult to paint in 2007? We artists are such sensitive souls that it doesn’t take much to throw us off track and shake our confidence.

So far the good news is that 2008 is perking along much better. The tax materials are now at the accountant’s and off my long To Do list. I ordered some new art supplies and new canvases and am really liking the looks of the Masterpiece Belgian linens. A new canvas is waiting for the Bard portrait, and by tomorrow my mother’s taxes should be done, and I will at long last be free to paint again. I can’t wait!!

The painting above is an old pastel dog portrait which has always been one of my favorites. I’d like to add some dog paintings to my portfolio again, and “Casey” is a reminder of that.

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