Thursday, October 1, 2009


I dearly love visiting art museums and galleries. I view this activity as a smorgasbord for the eyes. The visual offerings are staggering, the variety, overwhelming. I once traveled over 300 miles to see a special art exhibit that was not coming to my local museum. The theme of the exhibit focused on works of the great impressionists, over 300 rarely exhibited paintings from the Metropolitan Museum in Manhattan. It literally took HOURS to see it all (and that was without the recorded tour). The exhibit was incredibly rich. I was exhausted afterward, utterly spent. But my imagination was euphoric, stimulated beyond measure by all that I had seen. The long journey to view that show was completely worthwhile.

I had a similar experience in Santa Fe about two years ago. I decided to stroll down the famous Canyon Road, a mile-long stretch of gallery after gallery. I entered every single gallery that day! Again, hours later, I emerged from the last gallery, my feet weary, my mind oversaturated by the experience and my heart happy.

These art excursions are so good for me. They refine my taste and help me to regain my artistic focus. They inspire fresh form and color combinations in my own work. I am also ever intrigued by each object that is represented as "art". Of course, some things are universally considered to be art- for instance, the Grand Canyon, a spectacular sunset, or a tender rose. Hoever, all HUMAN representations of art are subjective, that is, based on or influenced by personal opinions. What may be considered high art in this day and age might have been viewed as garbage in another time period, absolutely laughable as art. Today the word "art" has a much broader application. Many things designated as art by one person may not truly be seen as such by another.

Art has always required an open mind. For example, when what we call the 'great impressionists' first presented their now famous/ infamous paintings, they were soundly rejected by the art world of their day. With few exceptions, these 'impressionists' were not allowed to exhibit in the great art salons of their time. The rejection they experienced could have been crushing. Instead, these artists did not let the narrow view of art critics dampen their spirits or deter them from the continual creation of their art. They arranged their own exhibitions, promoted themselves and their fresh take on art. Gradually, impressionistic art became a smashing success, still greatly admired today.

I try to keep all of this in mind when thinking of my own art productions. I think it is all about having confidence in your own work and abilities. Some of the things I make I feel incredibly confident about. I love these pieces without question and find it difficult to part with them. In my opinion, they are "art". There are other pieces I've made that I'm not so wild about. Usually these are commissioned pieces. I guess the reason I don't bond so readily with these pieces is because they do not spring entirely from my own imagination. Commissioned art is a collaborative effort, involving both artist and client. The client's own ideas influence the direction the piece will take. Collaboration can be interesting- you never know what the end result may be. Sometimes, when that end is reached, I think to myself, " The client will either love this or hate this. The jury is still out for me.". To my surprise, most of the time the client is more than satisfied. I almost feel as if I just got away with something. This feeling is probably attributable to the fact that I feel a little less confident about making something that incorporates another's ideas. Admittedly, commissions do make me a little nervous because they involve a great deal of communication. Sometimes people don't communicate very well. When that happens, it's back to the drawing board.

There are times when I am tempted to disassemble a rejected piece. I recently experienced this very thing. One of my commissions was rejected by the client. I was rather frustrated because I had worked hard on it. I set it aside until I could decide what to do with it. The next day, a friend visited me in my studio, saw the piece and swooped. She now owns it. I feel infinitely better about it. You just never know how someone is going to view your creation. What one person rejects, another may adore. I find it difficult to remain objective about my own work. For me, the moral of the story is to present my work with confidence. Make sure the quality of the piece is high and put it out there. Someone might just love it!
"Painting is a faith, and it imposes the duty to disregard public opinion."- Vincent van Gogh
"Other people's opinion of you does not have to become your reality."- Les Brown
(Bead featured in this post for sale in my Etsy shop.)


  1. As always, I love how thought-provoking your posts and blog are. Someday we're going to really go to Santa Fe together. Sigh.

    Regarding custom commissions: I have done a few long distance commissions and communication is very critical. The one who had a very specific idea in mind...we struggled. The ones who give me a general idea and creative license...I LOVED how those commissions turned out. It was hard for me to keep my hands off of them.

    Regarding art as subjective: I remember having definite opinions of what was "art" when I was younger, when a more creative/artistic friend fussed at me over a piece of modern art that I didn't consider art (at the time...I think differently now). Broadening my mind has really let me think about so many things differently. Even fashion that I considered as a "out there" now I just look at as another art form.

    I totally agree with you...present your art with confidence. And the other thing: explain it. Sometimes what looks simple and effortless, is anything but. And, even if it is simple and effortless, there is a thought process behind what was created that gives it meaning. (I may have to snag some of this for a later post for me!)

  2. I need to copy this post and read it from time to time to keep it fresh in my mind. This is so true that one person may like a piece and another may not.