The Cost of Living; oil & collage on canvas; 40" x 60"
The business of art is both exciting (when it is going well) and a constant struggle to make it happen. Business is not my strong suit. I just want to paint. In addition to the joy painting brings me, it is very important to have people see my work. And one of the many great benefits of exhibiting is not only having the work out of my studio, in a public arena, creating a possibility for the work to find new homes, but also seeing the work in a clean, fresh space. It often looks very different than in my studio, leading me to rethink what I am doing on many levels. I am not a very public person except when my work is on the walls of a gallery. Then I am very happy to talk to people, and especially to talk about the work. That is a real pleasure.
Another big benefit is clearing out my studio so I can paint more paintings. Out of my crowded studio space, I can get a better perspective on what is really happening, how the paintings talk to other people, how they talk to each other. I can see more clearly what works and what doesn’t.
The struggle, the agony, arises mostly from expectations: that someone will come through, look at my work and I will expect a sale, an exhibit, a reference. In the past I have at times planned for something that doesn't happen. I am learning that doesn't help things happen. Either they will or they won't. I am still going to paint, make more paintings, have more paintings waiting for their proper home.
Then there is the paperwork, arranging packing and shipping if necessary, the physical strain from that and the emotional stress from all of it. It has become harder with time, more expected from me. I was recently told I needed my own broker. Artwork is duty free. Nevertheless, there is lots of exacting paperwork to cross the border to the US.
One of the recent times I was shipping some work out, the shipper wanted to raise the price by several hundred dollars because, he said, I live here. I have always lived and worked in my house, wherever I live. Here, my studio is the entire bottom floor of my house. Yes, I do live upstairs but lots of people work from home these days. I have always preferred having a studio where I live. It works for me, but the residential neighbourhood is something the shippers can complain about. Not all shipping companies will pick up here. That has always been true. I am learning a new vocabulary: forklifts and tailgate lifts and the many various sizes of trucks. I need explanations now where it once was so easy. There was a small shipping company I could rely on. They knew me and handled the work easily. But then they sold out to a bigger company. It is much harder now with more requirements to be fulfilled.
There is, and always will be, pain and joy connected to the life of painting.