Today's blog is about art rather than home. I thought I'd address the subject of staying steady. By that I mean keeping your career on a steady path and keeping a flow going with your paintings. In art school, we were taught to be careful and thoughtful about where we decided to go with all things pertaining to our painting, and hard as it is, I've tried to follow that advice.
A starting point for me was to choose a reasonable (with some stretching) goal of painting the best horse, dog and cat paintings I'm capable of doing and selling them to people who love animals as I do. My set of subjects and mediums are those that call to me . . . they are things I love. I am a watercolourist first and foremost and always will be, but I also enjoy graphite and sometimes dabble in acrylics. Experimenting with mediums is good, especially when you're starting out - you have to try things to see where your heart lies, but once you find that, it's not a bad idea to stay with it and work at developing your proficiency with that/those medium. Each of our paintings need to proceed slowly, with a plan of where we are going, and with watercolours at least, thinking about each brushful of paint before we lay it down.
I paint domestic animals because I have loved and felt a connection to them from the first moment I saw them. That said, I love the world of field, forest and garden as well, and those things fit into my animal work under the net of 'Country Life. I try to keep my paintings authentic, to keep them about a way of life that I love, know well, and want to share with the viewer.
Hard as it is, we have to develop a style that is recognizable, and if at some point we decide to change that style drastically, some artists have chosen to present that parallel work under another name as way of keeping things straight for the viewer. I've never done this, but who knows what wild hare I might try someday.
Pricing is another area where we need to hold steady. Again, this is from my wise teachers from years ago; if we raise our prices too fast, it's pretty hard (although not impossible) to go back and lower them if the market of the day can't sustain those prices. But if you are asking $1,000 for a painting in one place, you risk losing credibility, to say nothing of ticking off collectors, if you then turn around and ask $100 for it at another venue. Pricing is a mine field, and I'm still trying to get it right.
Another old adage is that if you put too much bad work out there (due to lack of real interest in the painting, rushing, or of reaching too far ahead of oneself in one bound) you will be giving people a wrong impression of what you are capable of. We all have a painting or two out there in the past what we wish was not out there, but as much as possible, we need to be seen at our best.
So in my view, if we are committed to being an artist, each painting and our entire career is a case of Steady as we go.