Wednesday, May 22, 2013

May...this be a good month!

My long service leave from full time teaching will come to an end in early July and while I won't be returning to full time teaching (only going back part time), I won't have each and every day to myself to paint and focus on building my practice as a business. In all honesty I am actually looking forward to returning to school in July because I really do miss my workmates and my students. I am very lucky to work with some incredible women who I also value very much as friends. They have been a constant support to me in my personal pursuits over the years and I miss their smiles and our daily laughing sessions!

So when I hit the halfway mark of my time off and wrapped up my fundraising efforts for the Leukaemia Foundation, I felt seriously drained of energy and needed to kick start my motor. I spent two weeks painting my newest series of works for my exhibition 'Insight', at D-Bar Gallery in Coolangatta. While I was driving to the gallery to deliver my works I was brainstorming ways that I could really up the ante! Not only for me personally with my production of artwork, but also with sales. I know that success is not measured by money and I also realise that being an artist is tough. Added to this, the economy is not ideal and purchasing artwork is certainly a luxury, but I strongly believe people still want art and value it no less than we value and crave music, film and literature. Unfortunately there are few visual artists treated like rock stars in the main stream media and many everyday people know very little of the happenings in the Australian Art scene. It is something we all must must seek out for ourselves by finding out what galleries exist in our local areas, what exhibition openings are happening (SO MANY...often with complimentary nibbles and drinks. Get on it!) and of course my favourite way of researching....via social media!

But getting back to my point, I am now viewing my practice as a professional and no longer as a hobbyist and my Art is paying my bills. I am proudly referring to myself as an Artist these days, it took a while...but rest assured I have arrived. To be viewed this way I want people to take my art seriously and I want people to understand the value in my work. Artists are not mass-producers of home decor and we are not made of mechanical parts. There is no programme that allows all of a consumer's desires and palette preferences for a desired 'picture' to be entered into an artist's mainframe and then produced within a designated space of time and reproduced in a different colour on demand...for all other interested parties. I do know that many are already aware of this fact, but surely there are some who are not aware...and that's not their fault at all!!! I am just wanting to educate my clients, liker's and potential clients on the value of all ART...not just my own.

Day 8 and Day 12 of Birds of May
professionally framed.
To a degree the way in which I paint...which is fast and often...may lead some people to think that I can just do most things they ask for and not charge much for the service. I used to think the same thing about wedding photographers and found myself whinging "Why do they charge so much money when everything is digital these days?" I certainly didn't understand when we looked high and low for a reasonably priced wedding photographer back in 2009. I totally get it now though!

In this day and age so many of us have come accustomed to finding just about everything we need and want can be made possible and delivered to our front door via the internet and PayPal and many other convenient forms of communication technologies. You can text your coffee order to your local cafe to save time waiting on your way to work. It is all so convenient! So why are these photographers and artists charging so much for their services when we are all so budget savvy and willing to search for a better deal.

Taken from
Well if you ask me I will tell you that the answer is....ART! These so called services are delivered to you largely by people power, artistic vision, emotion, large amounts of unpaid time and personal service. Clients are not treated as general consumers when it comes to professional artists and in return we ask not be treated as wholesale producers and stockists. When you buy an artwork or you pay a photographer to capture special events and faces in your life you are inviting human intelligence and emotion to show you a glimpse of their perspective...this is not calculated and there is no 'How to guide' for seeing things uniquely. What is produced and captured depends so much on the insight of the artist, their personal experience and their ability to see people and show them how much they value their energy and support. It's PURE expression and it cannot always be forced. ART like LIFE is unique, special and unpredictable. This is largely why I have not really set up an online store and also why I am not currently interested in seeking gallery representation. I like dealing with people personally and when you communicate with me,  it is an important part of the whole experience. After all you are taking home a piece of me when you buy my artwork and images.

The solution to my 'Upping the ante' and powering through the rest of my long service leave was making a public promise to produce an artwork every single day. For the month of May these daily expressions would take the form of a bird. Why birds? Well they are quite amazing in my opinion. I envy their ability to fly and feel free. Yet they are vulnerable and certainly not always nice, but this to me makes them more beautiful and despite the fact that there are so many species of birds they all seem to possess wisdom and grace in their common traits...most notably their eyes. Imagine the views they take in and surely take for granted. A view that we often only get close to by boarding an aeroplane or jumping out of one.

So as I arrive at Day 23 of this 31 day challenge (search #birdsofmay on Instagram for all of the highlights so far) I am feeling motivated, proud and completely in the zone. These daily creations have been as big a surprise to me as they have to my devoted liker's and followers tuning into 'My friend can paint' daily to see which bird made the cut each day. I have not been choosing my birds in advance, but rather sitting down each morning and thinking about anything and everything that might give me a clue. Looking through various images of birds has also persuaded my decisions and of course naturally being drawn towards the birds I most admire. Conversations with friends and perhaps a little bit of telepathy with some have also lead me towards certain others. Who knows!! It has been a great little adventure and certainly has helped fund future creations and my creativity. I would definitely suggest to any struggling artists out there (struggling for creativity and motivation that is) to give themselves a 30 day challenge and see where it takes them. Sharing your journey may not be for you and that's just as important to remember. We can choose how much of ourselves we are willing to give away and share, because Art is a very personal thing.

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