Saturday, July 12, 2014

Post School Momentum



                                                    Morning on Market Street 9 x 12 Oil


It's been two months since my graduation from the MFA at PAFA and on one hand its seems longer than that and on the other, just a blink of an eye. It seemed longer since I had that much of a break from painting while I was moving home and all that entails, plus a lot of things around the house needed to be dealt with like yard work, which being bluntly honest, I don't like to do. My parents have a green thumb, but not me.

All the month of June was mostly consumed with things that needed to get done and had to get done, which are two very different lists but crossed over into each other making days busy with chores that took me away from the easel. I really only care about the easel. Its all about painting for me at this stage.

It does feel great to not be in school at all, to not be pouring anything into any other cup but mine. I thought I would miss it, but right now I don't, I enjoy being home and rearranging life post academia.

In the past few years I have had many of my friends go through this same transition, from school to the post school life, whatever that might be. In my case the biggest factor for me compared to most is that I still had my "day job" as it were.  I still worked full time on comics and animation while most of my friends didn't have a "before time" in that way and a consistent demand on their creative energies.

I've seen it happen with friends and some of my students that  some hit slumps out of school, some students hit the slump and never recover. Unfortunately that is well over 90% of all art  students it seems. The biggest factor I see is that the momentum of school is what moved them along. Friends, expectations of parents, assignments, teachers, homework, the fantasy of being an artist, the whole ball of energy that school is, and while they were being moved along some never actually had a paddle in the water themselves. School moved them, they did not move themselves. This is maybe the biggest issue coupled with the high price of living, the reality that it takes a lot of $cake$ to even have basic normal living these days. The demand to feed the rent monster and the school loan monster also just take many out of the game.

So, in the weeks following graduation that turn into months and eventually years many never learned to paddle the currents on the river of ART themselves and just get stuck,  stagnant or even sink, some to the demands of life and debt. Some students also loose their way a bit, some loose their voice or realize they were really speaking with the voice of another, likely a teacher. Strong and dynamic teachers are great, but they can also dominate weaker artists in a way that shuts up their own instincts. Also like a prisoner looked away from the illusion of freedom, the real and brutal reality at times of real freedom can whack many students off course. Some recover, get their shit in order, get a map and go, and some again, pull up to the edge and get out. Some keep racing along and never stop, they break the tape and keep going past school into the freedom and wilderness of the post art school life.

                                               Abandoned Brandywine 9 x 12 Oil on panel

That's the type of artist I am or want to be, just keep the oar in the water and going, don't break or stop. I have a set of goals that I have been working on and going over even when I am doing things like cutting shrubbery and giant limbs that have fallen from recent storms, going through old paintings and supplies and tossing junk.

I think every artist should have sort term and long terms goals and checkpoints and be willing to adjust short term goals to reach long term ones. I have been studying the art market since the early 90's and tracking the work and careers of todays top figuative and landscape paintres from Lipking to WU to artist like Kanevsky and more, and building a national list of galleries I will be shopping my work to.

Its a big exhaustive job to try and research a gallery, look at the artists they rep, and get info on the owners, gallery managers and see if they are worth the effort to approach.  I have built a decent list and have my top five galleries I would like to be in and work my way up to. At the same time I look at it as a marriage of a sort, do our values match, are we attracted to each other, is there a real honesty there. I also want to move my work beyond the sometimes insular and stagnant Philly market where sales are tough. I figure I need to be in at least 3 mid-level galleries beyond Philly to start an see where that goes. There are a lot of factors you can't control, and some call it luck, but I think fortune favors the prepared so you have to position yourself to catch and luck that is passing by or created by a chain of events YOU start. It start though by having the work in quality and to be honest in quantity as well. I can't change my station with low output of work.
                                                      Paseo de los suenos 11.5 x 13.5 oil
In the past few weeks I have also started painting again and playing around some and enjoying myself. I want to continue the plein air and landscapes, urban and country and get back to the figure too. I hope to be booking models in the next two weeks. So the new short term goal is to really try and paint every day, even for two hours during deadlines and keep something always on the easel and always moving. I feel like I am in a new stage of experimentation and growth and the most important thing is to keep the palette working.
                                                 A block-in on my easel for a new cityscape

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