Friday, March 4, 2011

Staying True to Myself and My Vision

I've been having a bit of an internal debate lately over what direction to take in my work. Those of you who've been with me for a while may recall that I moved in a major new direction last spring. I was so happy. I felt that my new work had so much more depth (by which I mean meaning, relevance, and content), and that it was a truer expression of me.

Then I sent a group of new paintings to my gallery... and waited. In a year's time, only one has sold. I started to doubt myself. Why aren't my paintings resonating with anyone?, I wondered. Then I talked to my gallery reps, two of the kindest people in the world, who both said I should go back to my old style. My old paintings were prettier. Oh, and by the way, I should avoid using the color green. Green's a tough sell, apparently. Yup, no more green when I'm painting landscapes of the Midwest, which is covered in forests and carpeted with grasses. Hmmm.

Fortunately, I am blessed to be friends with an extraordinarily talented and wise friend named Sam Adoquei. Sam just sent me a copy of his new book, Origin of Inspiration. He asked me to read it, and of course, I immediately came to the essay I knew he had in mind for me. In this essay, Sam writes about the three essential elements required of all successful artists: skill, style, and vision. Sam says that skill and style evolve naturally with dedicated practice, and that the bigger challenge is to develop your vision—your purpose or message in painting.

What I realized after reading Sam's book and getting a good pep talk directly from him is that I have finally found my vision. After years of working on skill, which in turn allowed me to develop my style, I finally reached the place where I had something to say through my work. Even better, I had arrived at what I feel is a unique way of saying it. Okay, so it's not selling. Not yet, and not in this gallery. But that is not and should not be the foremost principle guiding me in the creation of my work.

I have a vision. I'm sticking to it. And it's going to involve green. Thank you, Sam, thank you!