Consistency

That matter of Consistency niggles at me. It comes back often to my thoughts as I do that most dangerous of all artistic endeavours – compare my work to others.

It’s dreadfully dangerous as it leads oneself to doubt. Who am I, anyway, to show my work and tout it as valuing whatever price I might put on it? It’s definitely not worth a Degas or Picasso. I wouldn’t even want it to be. Somehow I think wealth and fame corrupts .

It’s not worth a Robert Bateman (and there is a an artist with consistency – so much so that his agents have turned prints of his work into gold-worthy wallpaper for homes and Institutions). Nor is it worth a Tony Sherman (more consistency), whose work I find sloppy and depressingly dark. All of that worth I am speaking of is in terms of monetary value.

But excepting the Degas, I’d rather have my work on my walls than theirs, despite the inconsistency. I’ve retained my privilege to explore any kind of art that I so desire, as the spirit moves me. And yet, I admire that single minded purpose that leads artists to develop work that flows from their hands to their media as if it were one with their spirit and their spirit is one.

Take a look at Gabriella Morrison’s portraits

http://www.gmorrison.ca/home.html

or Abe Murely’s

www.abemurley.com/

and you can see what I mean. Within a single glance you can see for each of these artists that the same person has created their body of work. No doubt about it. And that the next piece of work that they create will still carry the stamp of their personality, unique technical hand and their artistic vision. And yet each piece is a soul-searching exploration of the artist’s subject and the each piece is unique in composition and design. While there is consistency there does not seem to be repetitiveness. Ouch! that one is hard to explain!

I’m struggling with this because I’m preparing for the very first show and sale of my work in this community to which I have recently moved. If first appearances are crucial, which of my varied output do I bring to the table.

charity-cut.jpgThe funky cyber-drawing caricatures?

twisted-pine-hornby-island-small.jpgThe traditional English-style watercolours?

pf-baby-2.jpgThe experimental encasings in archival plastic?

crane.jpgThe Kimono like oils?

Money raises its ugly serpentine head and proffers the Edenic apple.

This community will not buy experimental work, or so I’m told. More advice follows. They won’t pay my prices for good framed traditional watercolours. They won’t understand the price of the framing. My neighbour and fellow artist says the denizens of this community would rather pay less and have less quality with a cheap frame. In other words, this is a small working community. It is not a major city with major philanthropic money ready to support experimental artists. Even if it were, I think, there is no guarantee one could find a gallery willing to promote one’s own experimental work nor a guarantee that their customers would like one’s own style of work. Even if they did, would they risk their money and take it home with them?

And so, I fall back on the mantras I have developed for myself over the years in times of doubt and discouragement.

The money is a red herring, a smoke screen, a false trail. ‘Tis better to be self supporting and be one’s own patron of the arts than to create things in the hopes of making money. Money corrupts. It changes what we do into something cheaper in soul. It tends to force us into repetitive works with less meaning. The result is commercial wall paper.

Or is it all wall paper, even if it has more soul?

And then the question arises: Is it important to fit in with the community of artists, or to take a stand as someone with a unique vision? Perhaps I should be grateful that I have done work that is outside the common trend. Work that is inventive and experimental. Work that identifies me, even though it so different from the others.

I have blathered on long enough. Thank you for listening. I may come back and add to this as I waver over my choices in the next two days.

How do we keep confidence in our own work, our own vision? Again, I call on an old mantra of mine, my overriding goal: To create to my own vision.

And how will I know if I get there? By the approval of those I consider my peers in art? Or by my own satisfaction with work I have done?




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