Never Give Up

Last year was not a good year for me artistically.  There were less places locally to exhibit paintings than there used to be.  And no one seemed to be interested in my work.  I signed up for Art Walk in October, when people visit local artists at their homes or studios.  In addition to the numerous paintings on the walls of my basement gallery, I put out a stack of older work I wanted to get rid of at greatly reduced prices.  The only painting I sold all year was one from that stack.

It made me wonder what was the point in painting if all I was doing was piling up art nobody wanted.  But for some of us not being creative does not seem to be an option.  We are simply programmed to be artists.  We can’t help it.  The same seems to be true of writers and musicians.  So I gave a few paintings as gifts and kept on creating.

Then came more bad luck.  My computer stopped working and went away for repairs for almost a month.  Computers are vital to just about everyone these days, including artists.  I couldn’t add photos of new paintings to those already on the computer or print them.  The records of my work were on my computer.  And I couldn’t write on my blog or enter art shows that these days have to be done on a computer.  When my computer finally returned I found a new Microsoft system on it and even more frustrating a whole new picture system, Adobe Elements 14, that is probably a good system if I could understand how it works.

But then suddenly things began to change for the better.  My daughter referred a woman to me who wanted a painting of a dog, now deceased, that had been her husband’s favorite.  She provided a photo.  I hadn’t done a dog in years but I rashly said yes and agreed to do it in pastels, a medium I don’t usually work in.  The result is below.  (I wanted to put it above but somehow couldn’t.)  The woman was pleased with the portrait of “Benny,” which was to be a gift for her husband.

Several more sales followed.  I participated in Art in the Park and sold a painting of a Bradford pear tree.  I joined the plein air painters at the Overland Park Arboretum spring event and sold a painting from it.  A relative bought a painting to give as a gift.  So I guess I’ll just keep on keeping on.  The process itself is irresistable.

 

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At the Arboretum

Into the Woods, acrylic, 18" x 14"

Into the Woods, acrylic, 18″ x 14″

During the last two weeks of May I participated in Stems Plein Air, an outdoor painting event at the Overland Park, KS, Aboretum.  This is an annual event which I did last year for the first time.  Artists are allowed to paint at the Arboretum and two other small locations any day during a two-week period.  Each artist may turn in three paintings for judging and those chosen will be in an art show at the Arboretum and at another location.  None of mine were chosen this year but it was still a very enjoyable experience.

I painted two days the first week and three the second and finished three paintings, including the one above, and had a good start on the fourth, which I have since finished.  I had an interesting experience with that one.  I began it on a Monday afternoon at the Arboretum sitting in front of a row of brightly colored pansies with a background of a dark hedge.  But flowers are ephemeral things.  I did not return again until Wednesday and they were beginning to look a little droopy but still paintable.  But then a hoard of master gardeners descended on the Arboretum, as I learned they do each Wednesday morning to tend to the gardens.  This made paintings a bit more difficult.  Then one told me the sprinkler system would go on in 45 minutes and I would have to move by that time.  But the crowing blow came when someone instructed the master gardeners who were working near me to pull up all the pansies and plant something else.

I thought this painting had the potential to be the best of mine from this event.  but it was not eligible to be entered because the rules state that the painting must be totally completed on site, and of course this was now impossible.  Fortunately, I had taken a photo of the pansies on Monday so I was able to complete the painting at home.  Actually, that is the way I usually work.  I do most of the painting on site and take photos.  Then at home I figure out what else needs to be done or changed and do it.  But outdoor painting to me isn’t ultimately about rules.  It is enjoying the outdoors and trying to create an impression of what I am experiencing in the hope that others will see the beauty of it too.