I am not a blogger. There, I said it. I think bloggers are narcissistic and shameless self-promoters. When I began to structure my art business like a small business I found out that of all the artwork I create and present to the public, only about 3% of you will ever actually see it in person. Which means most of you will only ever see it online or in print, which means I have to drive traffic to my website to get more of you to see my work. Sending more of you to see my work, equals more sales, and more sales means I get to continue to do what I love every single day. And when I get to do what I love, and it touches someone, well, that's what life is all about. I won't get into statistics, because it bores me unless I'm actually looking at those cool zig-zaggy lines. And I hate reducing you to a number. But I have to drive a certain number of people to my site before I make a sale. And for some reason, my blog seems to bring people to my site. I am astounded that people actually read what I write. I am humbled when what I write actually moves someone, such as the suicide post did, and I have started to realize the importance of these posts.
That said, I will always only write what is in my heart. Especially as it pertains to my art work. My work is a direct representation of what I am going through and what I am feeling at the time. I usually won't say it while it's happening, but you can bet it will eventually show up in my work. Remember the suicide post? I was working on a series of six paintings during that period. I didn't realize how dark I was feeling, but had to laugh months later when I revisited the photographs of the paintings because they were all of messages in bottles. I was playing The Police's Message in a Bottle on repeat in my studio. Save our Souls, Save MY soul was what I was really saying, and I didn't even know it! Ha!
During one memorable critique with my mentor, he focused on the changing subject matter. He asked me where it came from. I told him most of the time I kept a sketchbook by my bed and as I woke up with a racing mind I would scribble the image. A moon holding a net, a floating figure that was about to drop to the jagged rocks below, a figure whose sleeve was skimming the flame of a candle, a figure who was sinking into a pond, lily pads, lots of lily pads. He asked me if I had ever consulted a dream dictionary to figure out what I was painting. The imagery was very intentional even if I didn't know why I was painting it. I said no, but after that I began to dissect every painting. It was scary, powerful, and intimidating because it was so accurate.
I recently critiqued a good friend of mine and had her do the same thing to get her to open up and be able to talk to others about her work. She was shocked by what she was painting. Mainly images that pertained to fertility, and her own struggles with conceiving. And here she thought she had just picked some random uplifting images to work with. Nope, we all have hidden intent whether we recognize it or not.
The most important thing I am learning throughout the marketing and promoting of my work (which I HATE, and I am fairly confident I am in the same boat with most artists), is that at least my work is being seen and collected by people I feel are handpicked by me. Art is about connecting, and if something I've said has connected you to me, then you are in the right place and I am happy you are here. If I've created something that speaks to you, as it spoke to me while I was creating, then we instantly share an emotional connection, and I treasure that connection dearly. You are purchasing a piece of my soul, and I find great joy in sharing. If you are just reading and looking at pictures and are part of the 97% that will never own or see a work of mine in person, then I hope something I've said or painted resonates with you and you will continue to come back and read and enjoy.
This is a very huge moment in my life. I am growing in ways I never thought possible, and am absorbing every minute no matter how sad, eye opening, or delightful it all is. I can say for certain that it isn't boring and will provide me with LOTS of new material and subject matter for the spring! So be prepared!
Thank you for continuing to come back and visit. You guys are great. I cry with your stories, I laugh with your comments, and I am inspired through inspiring you. I'm looking forward to my best year yet, and can't wait to share it with you!!!
Ooooohhhh, my life is so exciting right now I could write about so many different things...but what to choose, what to choose...hmmm. When I was little my dad traveled all over the world and brought me back a doll from each destination. My favorite was an alpaca and farmer from Columbia. I kept all of my dolls in a case that my grandfather made. My parents have downsized their home and given me the doll case for my girls. But neither of them collect dolls so I've kept the case in the dining room for the time being trying to figure out what to do with it.
While taking a break during the reorganization of my home (some of you may have fallen victim to the albums I've come across as they are too fun to not share on Facebook), we went out to watch the kids' final soccer games. As I approached the field, I saw HIM. You know who he is. The overly angry soccer dad who showed up to the field pissed off before the game even started. We had a run-in with one of these last year. Another mom, who happened to be a friend, had a daughter on the field who was painfully shy about playing and would hardly participate. Each week she would get on the field and play a little more. The parents stood on the sidelines and cheered equally for everyone. Except one dad. He threw his hands up in the air and stomped around. He couldn't understand why the seven year old wasn't aggressively attacking the ball. "Wake up number 7!" he shouted. My friend cringed. "What are you doing out there? Sleeping?" he shouted again. My friend looked at me about to cry. I turned to look at Chris, and he promptly stepped into action, "Hey man, lighten up. It's about progress, not perfection." Perfectly put, I thought. At least it worked and the man finally shut up.
This dad was no different. The kids were a year older. The field was a little bigger. The goal post a little higher. The season was a little more challenging. Lilly begged her coach to be goal keeper. Defense was a little weak, so she quickly became a star as she blocked several goals her very first game. She had found her position. I told her how that position always scared me and I admired her courage for volunteering to try it. She was hooked and by the end of the season was even diving for the corner blocks. But she doesn't always block the ball. Sometimes they get by her. I am so proud that she never lets those misses get her down. I test her a little and ask her how she feels. Then I tell her, if she didn't let some go by once in awhile how was she ever going to know what she needed to do to improve, so thank goodness it happens. Because of this, she works extra hard. And she takes her position as keeper very seriously. She has set a standard of excellence for herself. And no matter what happened this season, she knows she worked as hard as she could and therefore met her standards.
I felt really sorry for the kid of the dad from hell. He threw his hat down on the field (mind you, these are 8 year olds and it's a YMCA team), he sighed out loud, yelled at his kid, yelled at our kids, yelled at the coach. Questioned the coach. By the looks of it (and the horrible coaching he was giving) I am guessing he has never actually played the game himself. But he sure knew how to bark orders and insults. I don't know what he was expecting exactly...that they were going to win every game? That they step onto the field knowing all there is to know about the game? That they are super athletes fully developed? On numerous occassions I turned my head to shout something at him, and quickly had my mouth covered by caring family members who didn't want to see me thrown off the field. Eventually, I just moved to a different side of the field.
The whole experience made me glad I deleted the word "expectation" from my vocabulary. When I place an "expectation" on someone...they will never meet it. If they are lucky and they happen to meet one expectation, they are sure to fail somewhere else. It's sad to see someone who has been battered by years of failing to meet expectations. Seems like eventually they just stop trying. It also seems controlling to me. I "expect" you to be this way, do this thing, be this person...who am "I"? God? The Dalai Llama? Batman? I'm one person. A nobody.
I decided that instead of setting expectations on people in my life (that is just way too much work to keep up with all the people who wrong me or are on the "in danger of wronging me" list), I am now only setting standards. When I set expectations I am controlling someone else. When I set standards, I am only responsible for me! Whew! What a relief! That is a huge weight of responsibility off my shoulders! In turn, I try to teach my children how to set standards for themselves. And when they meet those standards, they seem to be naturally driven to exceed them for some reason. 100% of the time when they exceed their own standards they are already so far above what my expectations would have been, that I don't even bother with those annoying details anymore. I love when my children come bouncing off the field, win or lose, and just high five and kick the ball around talking about how much fun they had. And I never seem to have trouble getting them out the door for practice.
And the poor guy who spent an hour belittling a bunch of kids who were much smaller than him? His kid came dragging off the field, compaining about playing, complaining about losing, complaining about running...complaining about everything. I guess that is what happens when you don't meet someone's expectations. Makes me think what a sad life this poor dad had, that he probably failed to meet someone's expectations too.
The girls came home with a couple of soccer trophies to wrap up the season. And it dawned on me that I knew just the perfect place to display them. I look at the trophy case in my dining room now thinking, wow, I have lots of active kids in this house (Chris included), and we piled all our awards in the case...now instead of dolls, the case has soccer trophies, pageant trophies, a tiara, a crown, swimming ribbons, running medals, and awards from work. It has become the family trophy case I never expected!