I spent Friday afternoon in the studio. I got nothing done. Well, that’s not entirely true, but close enough for government work, as my father used to say.
I have a piece started – sort of. The sketch is on the Wedi, but I’m waiting for some glass I ordered to move forward with it. I have another piece of Wedi that has been prepped and is waiting for a sketch, so I thought maybe I’d start on that.
I was paralyzed by indecision. That’s not a common occurrence for me. I found myself thinking that all the things that I wanted to put on that board were things that probably wouldn’t have a very wide appeal, or would be too esoteric to be easily understood. And therefore, I probably wouldn’t sell it.
And running in the background of my mind was the argument that every artist deals with regularly – do I make what I think will sell or what I want to make. Pros and cons on both sides, of course. That’s why we keep going round in circles instead of settling it once and for all.
So first of all, the question is “who do I think I am, that I know what will please the market?” The things I have created that I thought would surely sell quickly are still in my inventory, and for the most part, the ones I’ve sold were surprising to me.
So I packed up and came home and parked my fanny in front of the computer. After about an hour of random and mindless surfing, I ran across Linda Smith’s recent blog post, Philosophical Thoughts about What is Mosaic Fine Art. Linda referenced an article by Sonia King originally published in Mosaic Art Now in 2010. I remembered having read it, but of course I didn’t remember what it said. When I went back and reread it – there was my dilemma spelled out in black and white. Sonia said,
“Make what pleases you and what keeps you in the studio, eager to learn what happens next. Being concerned about whether others will like what you do or to fulfill what you perceive as a market niche dilutes everything special and unique about your work.”Huh. What do you know about that?
I’m not sure where that leaves me with the blank Wedi board, but it certainly leaves my brain in a tailspin. How in the world did that particular piece of information from two years ago happen to land in my lap on this day?
You can read Sonia’s entire article here. There is much more of value in it, I just grabbed that part for its uncanny pertinence.
But here’s the thing….
What I find myself thinking of creating is something to demonstrate the fact that man is not separate from nature, although our modern society implies otherwise. We can ignore our oneness with the natural world or not, but it will not change the fact. The artwork needs (for me) to include some archetypal imagery (maybe a green man, but also a particularly feminine symbol) and some really lush foliage.
But I feel so very resistant to doing that because I dread the idea of having to explain it.
Maybe I wouldn’t have to do that often. Maybe I can manage a design that communicates my concept without words. I don’t have a lot of confidence that I can.
I know that artworks with lengthy explanations always wear me out. And I have a brick wall in my head between language and images. I want them both to stand alone. If they can’t, they aren’t quality. They can enrich each other in wonderful ways, but if one needs the other, it isn’t quality. I don’t want to make something that I believe out of the starting gate isn’t going to be a quality artwork. So what to do?
As I mentioned, I know every artist deals with this to some degree. I would love to hear from you – how did you approach it/resolve it? Do you still struggle with it? Please leave a comment.