For some reason, I have been procrastinating when it comes to reflecting upon my past year as an artist. This morning when I opened a blank document to write, I found myself staring blankly. So I checked my Facebook, paid some bills, responded to comments on my blog, hoping for inspiration. I pulled up the blank page again, but still I had nothing. Images of the past year rolled through my head, but finding the right words to bring those memories to life seemed difficult. Finally, it hit me. I needed to be honest in this reflection. I only wanted to write something that was upbeat and inspiring. But 2011 presented some challenges that sometimes left me disappointed with my artistic progress. I promised myself when I started this blog that I would post all of my paintings regardless of whether I deemed them good or bad. So this reflection should be no different. I had successes and set-backs in 2011 and to provide an honest reflection I needed to address both. So here we go!
I lined up four solo exhibitions in 2011. I wanted to get my work out to the public as frequently as possible in an effort to make connections with artists and community members. I spaced my shows out over the course of the year. I had a show the month during of January, April, October, and my final show ran from November through December. Sales in 2011 were good! I sold twenty-two paintings this past year which is a major accomplishment. By lining up so many solo shows, however, I found my creativity was negatively impacted. I became focused upon creating paintings that would fit in a certain series so it would look polished when on display. I also worried more intensely about making artwork that would sell. As a working artist, both of these concerns are valid and I am thankful that I took them into account in order to provide professional high-quality shows. I believe my sales benefited greatly by confronting these concerns. But, the conflict arises when I fear that I have started to lose that spark to create something new. I love experimentation, trying new things and learning from failures. This past year left me with little time to play, discover, or fail and try again. So I have decided that I will plan fewer shows in 2012 in order to get back to the root of why I began this journey in the first place. I have a few new ideas bouncing around and I am itching to get back into the studio without the pressure to perform. I am planning a solo show in May which gives me several uninterrupted months of doing and trying anything that my heart desires.
There were some major life events in 2011. My full-time career as a high school art teacher was impacted. My income has been frozen for the last three years and in 2011 the teachers at my high school had to take on a larger class load to account for the terrible loss of funding. While I am very grateful for my continued employment, the larger class load has meant less time for planning, grading, parent communication, and less time for rest. With a lower energy level, some days it was just too hard to drag myself to the studio. My husband and I bought our first home as well. I packed my studio in June and did not unpack it until late July once the new studio space was finished. So there were several months that passed without painting. The studio is now a usable space and I love it! Also, my dad was diagnosed with metastatic cancer in 2011. From August through December I used all my three or four-day weekends, and holiday breaks to be with my family and I would not have changed that for the world. I was also able to work out a deal with the gallery where I showed my work in November so that I could donate a portion of my artwork sales towards cancer organizations. While it has been an extremely tough journey, his diagnosis has redirected my efforts towards what I truly value most.
So onward to the goals of 2012! I want to CREATE! I want to love what I do and share it with the world. I want to continue to persevere through whatever life throws my way. I often think of how my dad introduces me to new people and I smile every time. “Have you met my daughter? She is a famous artist!” 🙂 While I may not really be famous; I hope that as long as I follow my passion, my work will continue grow and touch wider audiences.