Storm Over Eagle Nest
Oil on canvas, 6x12
The other day, an artist friend focusing on 2014 shows asked me whether I'd made the shift from wall-to-wall-paint pieces to minimal pieces.
I said I hadn't, not really, and when this artist asked why, I had answers, but I was really hemming and hawing, and my friend picked up on it. And challenged me.
If I didn't have the nerve to commit to an entire tent, an entire display of minimalist paintings, this artist said, I was not going to find success with them.
When we stopped talking, I'll tell you, I was mad and I was hurt. This was not the first time that this person had challenged me. During the summer, when I was in New England for six weeks, doing a series of shows and visiting friends and family, this artist had suggested that instead of doing so much visiting, I should be doing more painting. Should be more disciplined, more productive.
Both times, I felt like snapping back: I didn't ask for your opinion. I don't tell you how to do your work. I would never suggest changes to your display, or to your art.
But I didn't say any of that, and after my flash of anger subsided, I was able to see the truth behind the challenges.
Yes, this summer I could have done more paintings. I could have been more disciplined.
Right now, yes, I don't have the courage to commit fully to the minimalist paintings. They come with problems I don't know how to solve yet, and a market I don't know how to find.
But I can make inroads. I can initiate evolution. I do have the courage for that.
Would you challenge a friend the way this artist challenged me? How have you handled being challenged by people who, while they are friends, are not your close friends or family?
Take a look at his ears. In each one, you can see the face of a woman. Right? Spooky!
THE CALIFORNIA CALLING trip is shaping up! I've been juried into three good-looking shows, and I'm quite excited.
The Southwest Arts Festival, in Indio, California, runs from Jan. 23-25. I will stay in California and paint for a week or so after the show, then head to my Dad's house in Tubac, where I'm in the Tubac Arts Festival from Feb. 5-9. I'll paint in Tubac, and, I hope, conduct a couple workshops there, then head home at the end of the month, after participating in the Rio Grande Arts Festival in Albuquerque.
As for your friend's "challenges..."
For me it comes back to this: One should not and need not tell someone something that person already knows. What is the point? (Except to cause grief and negativity?) Neither can one nor should one judge another according to ones own habits and preferences. Asking provocative questions with good intentions is a positive challenge. Asking questions that batter ones psyche is quite another matter.
We as artists are constantly being judged, but if I want to hear a critique, I prefer to ask for one rather than have it thrust upon me. I've always felt the work will out; i.e.,if it's strong enough and good enough and original enough, it's going to stand out.
Good to hear from you, Patrice! I was looking at the purple field painting just the other day and hoping you are doing well.
Part of me says just what you do - and part says I should thank this person for startling me into a different state of being and questioning.
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