Managing Success While Being a Half Committed Artist

Stretching canvas in the studio of Curtis Green Arts. Several canvases in process of being stretched and ready for gesso and painting.

We are told that to succeed in anything, one must focus on that one thing and do that one thing well.  Fine, but what if the one thing you focus on requires many things to be done well, to succeed?  How do we manage our success while being a half committed artist?

Who among us has not had an observation about films, music, art and uttered, “They sure don’t make ‘em the way they used to!”

That makes me question, does the art suffer if the artist can only be half committed?  We may come to a point where we finally say to ourselves that the time for complete commitment has come.  Our sideline creativity has come to a crossroad and it is time to commit or quit.

A typically unavoidable fact is that there are many talented people who need some  regular supporting income that allows them to do their creative work.  So much can be said about this truth. 

That makes me question, does the art suffer if the artist can only be half committed?

The aspiring artist may have arrived where their work has evolved as far as it can go but must “set it aside” for other income sources to be fulfilled.  If the aspiring artist is split between dedicating themselves wholly towards too many requirements, the notion often evolves towards cutting a few of those away to clear the path to succeed at the desired goal of being a self-supporting artist.  The thought might be that one must focus and do the one thing well. That is when the artist positions themselves on the precipice of life’s proverbial cliff to “make the leap” and do the thing they were truly meant to do!

Sell the House?

Hopefully, the prospect that your significant other or your family will either cheer you on, or disown you, has already been considered before making your announcement.  Much is made of chucking the old job, selling the house, and setting up shop in the country somewhere to finally write that novel, write the opus, create the body of work. That is a healthy fantasy, but it is assumed that the artist does only one thing.  That is, nothing to do but paint pictures or write pages, or play music.  Not frivolously, mind you, but dedicated!   How untrue and unprofessional this fantasy is.

Personally, I have not yet taken the running leap off the proverbial cliff.  Although I feel like I might be hanging on that always present branch that juts out from the cliffs face.  There I probably am, dangling before I loose myself and let the wings take flight.  Here, suspended between full commitment and drawing back from the edge of the cliff, I find that focusing on the one thing in order to succeed at being a full professional in my field requires many, many things unrelated to the popular idea of what being an artist means.   Today’s artist must be able to do more than just the one thing well.

Business Owner – Entrepreneur

Many of us have set ourselves up as a small business to help us manage our necessary purchases, rentals, expenses, and income as our work develops beyond the “at home” stage.  Managing the business, no matter how modest, still needs to be done.  That includes the accounting!  Accounting seems most opposite of being creative.  At least it better be!

Salesperson

“Being in sales” sounds more like something heard at a regional manager’s convention than at an art studio!  However, good salespeople are often able to understand the needs of the customer or client and pinpoint how to satisfy that need.  Not all salespeople are the “used car lot” types.  The good ones are also caring about their clients and know that a good sale means a good relationship.

Marketing

Oh no!  Marketing is supposed to be the antithesis of art.  Well, but it is creative. Thankfully, the type of “good” marketing I find myself doing is simply insuring I have enough exposure for people to know I exist and to maintain a relationship with an audience or client base.  However, that also means becoming versed in the language of marketing and social media. 

Social Media, Webmaster and Content Manager

It is a constant upkeep of creating and managing content for an audience.  I would like my content to be enjoyable, inspiring, and engaging.  If an artist is hiring someone to handle their online presence, then great!  However, most of us do it ourselves.  If that is your case, then you know you are always having to manage and improve your content and platforms. 

Do not forget: Being an artist !

This is truly a calling.  If your artistic dedication is to either paint or play golf, then you are safe from this discussion.  Making art for the pure joy of it is highly encouraged!  However, if making art because life is difficult if you do not, then you may already know that your thoughts are continuously at the passionate service of your ideas and observations. 

Perhaps it is a rite of passage and maybe we are tested by fire before the reward is received.  If we find that we have gone from the weekend artist towards the full-time (or mostly full-time) artist, we must find out whether we are willing to dedicate ourselves happily, to the many tasks required to maintain an arts practice.  Shedding all the burdensome occupations to pursue one’s craft is to only find yourself engaged in all the various other things necessary to allow for that to happen.   

The artist may find themselves working even harder in every other kind of way outside of creating their art.  However, if the artist can wake up each day and be glad to keep going, even through challenges and doubt, to maintain perseverance while managing their schedules, tasks and creative output, as well as a side job, then may that artist reach their intended definition of success.  It is possible the art public will be better for it as well. Perhaps then, the arts could delight us to the highest while  appealing and drawing out the best in us.

Once, I was out painting and someone came up and admired what I was doing.  Then they said to me, “Man, I wish I could be an artist and just paint pictures all day”. 

I made a quiet grin and wondered to myself what that would be like!

Can Art Create Community?

Photo of a brick wall with graffiti with words Together we Create. Photo by Bamgal

If the question is ‘Can Art Create Community’ then the answer should be obvious. Art is intimately married to an innate human need to communicate. It can express and provoke thought.  It gives us an ability to record events and tell stories. We can understand ourselves or even ponder the sacred.   How has this been true and how has it changed?

Continue reading “Can Art Create Community?”

Artists as Grateful Gift Givers

Oil painting and fine art print depicting trees and a field with the golden hues of fall.

Oil painting and fine art print depicting trees and a field with the golden hues of fall. Sentiment for Fall – Curtis Green

As the holiday season approaches, I started thinking about artists as grateful gift givers. Artists can be thought of as gracious and giving or snobby and pretentious or maybe a mix of all of these.  As my thoughts were coming together, I remembered a funny routine by comedian George Carlin about his views on the game of golf.  The bit explained his unique perspective about the game.  He joked that golf was a snobby, elitist, pretentious endeavor played for the sake of chasing a tiny ball around for hours on end.  Perhaps art can be viewed with similar terms.  Continue reading “Artists as Grateful Gift Givers”

Dullness Shines from the Lamp of Perfection

Painting titled Aycil with Orange Chair Unfinished by Curtis Green

I was at the studio of a  good friend and sculptor the other day. The humorous opinion developed that, nowhere in art does dullness shine brighter, than from the lamp of perfection.

We were having a stimulating conversation that somehow landed on the idea of extremes.  We were comparing perfect technique versus an intentionally naïve  approach.  Perfection in technique we decided, especially in the age of the camera, is pointless.  The humorous opinion developed that, nowhere in art does dullness shine brighter, than from the lamp of perfection.  An artist’s technique can get so perfect, there is nowhere to allow for the art to exist.  Little actions that are left not “corrected” can do several things.  The so called “dithers” of tool or brush handling adds a certain life to the work.  These little leftovers can add interest that compels us to want to look closer.

Sometimes the artist must make a decision to pull back the perfection for some specific reason.   A purposeful distortion may provide an excitable energy or a quiet a mood.   Artistic intention can make the poetic idea or message be better communicated to the viewer.  In other words, these are the things that turn a perfect rendering into a work of art.

It is in our human nature to share our experiences.  Telling a story with embellishments makes it really captivating.  However, one must first learn to speak before exercising  artistic license.  Oh, but that certainly, would be another and perhaps very long conversation.

Note: This painting (Aycil with Orange Chair Unfinished, 2018) is of my friend and working partner, Aycil Yeltan who is an actress and art model.  She is certainly not dull or uninteresting!  Thanks to her again for posing, What, I ask myself, would we artists do without our hard working models?

   

 

Mid-Winter Painting at Carbon Canyon

Plein air painting and fine art print of Carbon Canyon Regional Park outside of Brea, CA depicting trees and a fence lined path.

Mid-winter painting at Carbon Canyon means the sun is still a little low in the horizon. The equinox mean the light is hinting at the position it will soon be at in spring.  There is a quality of the softer light that inspires that feeling one gets when the air is clear and clean and also both warm and cool.

This painting was done in the brisk shade while looking down the path that leads past the nature preserve and garden.  This is a return trip to the Carbon Canyon Regional Park. For many years, this area that has captured my attention.  

Plein air painting and fine art print of Carbon Canyon Regional Park outside of Brea, CA depicting trees and a fence lined path.
Late Afternoon at Carbon Canyon – Curtis Green

This area was recently  on fire, and some of the area showed signs of being scorched. The trees that appear here were also subjects of the other paintings done around this location.  Fortunately the main trunks  survived and restoration of the area is underway.

I like the height of the trees.  I’m mostly responding to the massing of the shapes and how that creates a composition on the canvas.  It seems to set up for a “Californian” arrangement of Eucalyptus trees in the setting sun. Hopefully, it has a European sensibility also.

Walk Right In

If one were able to walk into this painting, one could travel to the fence corner and turn left. Just around the left corner is the location of another painting I did looking down that path. You can see and read about that painting in another post I wrote about it. A little history of the area is included also.

I look forward to doing more paintings here. Originally settled in the 1880’s by the new farmers it was know as Olinda. Agriculture and oil were the main industries. The area is full of history and natural Southern California beauty. Here’s a link to plan a visit to Carbon Canyon Regional Park.

Painting a View of Carbon Canyon

Plein air oil painting and fine art print of Carbon Canyon Regional Park near Brea, CA depicting sunny trees, shade and a fence.

While visiting the area outside of Brea, CA I began painting a view of Carbon Canyon.  During the 1880’s, the town of Olinda was established on the northeast corner of Orange County, CA.  It was a small pioneer town known mostly for agriculture and oil businesses. Some of the oil fields are still there.  Part of the canyon is a regional park where many people now hike and ride their horses.

Painting of A View at Carbon Canyon by Curtis Green
A View at Carbon Canyon – Curtis Green

This painting was done at the very east end of the Carbon Canyon Regional Park. The fenced in area is now a native plant garden.  Like many places in Orange County, the setting sun provides a particular golden glow that has been captured by many artists and photographers.  This is a beautiful area during certain times of the day and is full of history.

Redwood Forest in Southern California?

There is a natural redwood forest here also. A short hike around a small hill takes you to the small forest of redwood trees. It is easy to imagine what life must have been like when the area was being settled by the new farmers. One would like to think of those days as simple times. Not far away is the town of Brea which would have been a hub for commerce. The Santa Fe railway serviced the area. At that time, Los Angeles must have seemed very far away.

A Great Day Trip

Fortunately, much of Carbon Canyon remains as it always has. It appears the locals want to keep it that way. I hope they do. Places like this are wonderful to visit. You can learn more about the Canyon Canyon Regional Park here.

The plein air process for this painting was in keeping with the historic flavor of the area. I used my portable wooden easel, a hand stretched canvas and a few tubes of paint made by Rublev Natural Pigments. I plan to return and capture more of this hidden area just off the beaten path.