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August 15, 2010


i struggle with the decision to really "make something" (or not) out of the art inclinations i have. mostly i choose "or not" by default (lazy, busy, insert available excuse ...).

when i think about getting a part-time job and how poorly they pay and how much of an "inconvenience" (ha! so spoiled!) it seems, making money from art seems ideal. but there's that fear of failure and there's the reality of the market/economy. bah!

it probably comes down to "why not try it?" :)

you certainly have the talent!!! i've been enjoying your sketches very much.

Kia ora Beth,
When that first painting popped up on my screen it took my breath away. I love it.

I definitely think it's worth a try. I have a friend who began selling small cloth purses on Etsy.com last month and she had 10 orders within a week. It kind of overwhelmed her, but she's thrilled with the extra income.

I'd hang it on my wall, and I suspect a lot of other people would feel the same way. But I like the abstract work just as much.

When it first popped up on my screen I said "oh wow!"
I did make a living selling "art" handmade jewelry for a long time. hmmm, 20 years at least. The dangerous thing is when you start using your creativity to suit the market. You start churning out things that you know will sell and when you start a project you think, will this sell and how much will I make an hour for doing this. I burnt out on designing metal jewelry and lost my interest in it.
Now I have a lot of well paid computer work which is tedious but I don't mind it. I feel like I would like to create something artistic with color, however, I'm not going to put marketing it first.
I think the best way to do it, since your artwork is really appealing, is to make and sell prints. I love your watercolors of Montreal scenes and if I was in Montreal and saw them in a shop or at a fair, I would buy one. When we were in Quebec city years ago I bought a lovely print an artist was selling on the street and last year in France I bought one original oil painting and a few small watercolors that I love.
So yes, I think you could sell your work but do the work you love and watch out for becoming a producer of things for a market. It is amazing these days how the internet has worked for small business. We have an internet store selling camera gear Olof has invented and it has been amazing.

I used to have this internal conversation with myself many times years ago - should I create easy to make and easy to sell pretty flower and landscape art for selling and still do my 'serious' but hard to sell work as well? I could not make myself do the former for I felt it would detract from the latter, so of course my income is not so great but my self esteem is good. It's a question that each artist has to address for themselves, I think, to do what one really enjoys and feels right.

This brings back a conversation I had once long ago with a dear family member.... she admired a bouquet of flowers from my garden on our table and asked why I did not paint those. I actually felt hurt though I did not show it.

Beth, I like your pastel very much, especially the very details you've chosen as your favourites. Interesting to me is that you call it a painting. I wish you well in making your decision, and am particularly interested to see what you might do with online selling via Etsy or whatever, which I'm still on the fence about.

My first thought at seeing this was "Wow! That is so reminiscent of the pastel landscape that I have that Aunt Inez did!" Maybe you should remember her life when you're thinking of what to do with yours - artistically, that is. ( You probably don't want to be a 7th grade Social Studies teacher in Endicott, right?)

Beth, you handle the medium extremely well and I'm not at all surprised that you're pleased to see this pastel again.

When I was in the first throes of becoming an exhibiting painter, I was producing works that were quite traditional. Here's an example.


They sold quickly and I was pleased with them at the time. However I began to feel that I didn't want to pursue that style of painting. I wanted to explore more expressive ways of working, though it was seductive when people kept telling me how much they liked what I was doing. Then a fairly serious dealer that I'd been showing with told me that he was dropping me because I didn't fit with his 'Modern British' house style, though he admitted that he really liked the work against his better judgement! That did it for me, and I moved on to challenge myself more rigourously. I look back and I see that the work was very competent and I'm proud to have done it. But I know I did better when I moved away from the picturesque.

Ultimately you must paint what satisfies you the most. And whatever you paint, you'll be fine as long as you don't rest complacently on your laurels, but keep moving forward. I know that you'll do that, because I can see that you're always questioning. The challenge is the thing!

All I can say is, "That's a wonderful painting." And I can start to understand your distinctive style as I look at it. To me it seems almost expressionist.

I really love it and as others have said here, I would be proud to hang it on my wall. I would try it.

I had an uncle who loved photography, and, in the 1950s, made a brave decision to give up his day job and do it professionally. His rather lugubrious conclusion which he passed on to us was that one should never seek to make what one's artistic passion into one's livelihood, as it would kill the pleasure and always be precarious.

It seems a dismal doctrine, but it's one I've tended to heed. Many committed and authentic artists of all kinds I've quoted this to protest vehemently, saying that one should follow one's heart and passion, but the fact is, my uncle was not cut out to be a professional artist in the available market, he was a gifted amateur. He made a bare living taking wedding photos and portraits, which were frankly not very good, largely because his heart wasn't in it. Later when I saw his landscapes and nature shots, I realised he did have talent and a real love for it, but there was no living to be made in those, no market for them, and he didn't really have the drive and the vision to follow it through.

But, that's not necessarily relevant to you. It seems to me if you're actually rather itching to try this kind of work again, and you're not dependent on it, and then it turns out to be saleable, then it could have a happy outcome. There's much to said for not putting all your eggs in one basket, and you'll know and stop if you find yourself turning out formulaic stuff and feeling compromised and not enjoying it any more.

I think it's a beautiful painting, not remotely saccharine, with that limited palette and very strong sense of light and form. I love pastels when they're used this intensely.

I love the sense of movement of the trees and wind in that 1st image. Takes me back to (and makes me miss) New England. Truly beautiful.

Beth, what Clive and Marja-Leena said. But I do agree with everyone that it's a lovely image. Did you actually sit outside in the snow when you were doing this pastel or mainly worked from photos and sketches?

I too struggle with those questions, especially if (usually!) times are hard financially. I look around at what sells well and think: I could do that quite easily. But 'avoiding the picturesque' and the facile is really the challenge.

I very much like the little glimpse of your current work-in-progress.

I think you are a talented draughtsperson and painter, and I'd love to see more of your work. I agree with others who have outlined the perils of considering the market when doing creative work.

But you know what? If you enjoy the process and then are able to sell the product, there are few more rewarding transactions to be had in the marketplace.

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