Monday, September 23, 2019

So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish

This is a much more personal post than I am usually willing to make. Although I'm pretty opinionated and will express my thoughts easily about situations affecting a lot of people, I'm actually a very private person and don't like sharing details regarding my own life. But those people who have followed and encouraged me for 11 years deserve an explanation.

I will no longer be working as a professional mosaic artist. It's been a long time coming, this decision. I have struggled for several years with a growing animosity toward the business side of art, and I just can't do it anymore. I thought maybe a few months off would help, but I was wrong.

There are so many articles and blog posts written about how art can bring out your authentic self, how you can discover the solution to some of your problems through art (my friend David Sandum wrote a book about how art helped him cope with his depression - I'll Run Till The Sun Goes Down. Check it out.)

While that may be true for some, being a professional artist had the opposite effect on me.

Every time I posted about a new artwork that was available or a sale to move some older work, I felt like a carnival barker. Every time I had to explain why my prices are what they are, I felt like I was being accused of being a grifter. Every time I had to ask a visitor not to take photos of my work and explain the concept of intellectual property rights, I felt like a snob.

None of those things are me.

I have loved making mosaics and have enjoyed meeting so many other artists. My art  has been well received, but so what? You don't need it. Your life will be just as awesome with or without it. It won't make you happy, it won't cure loneliness, it won't bring you admiration for your good taste (well, maybe just a little).

It won't change your life.

I realize that sounds like I'm not showing proper respect for art in general, and I assure you that isn't true. Some of my favorite memories of childhood are from the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

I can't fully express the awe I felt in the presence of the Tiffany stained glass window commissioned as a memorial to former President Benjamin Harrison. Or the sculpture of The Three Graces on the grounds of Oldfields, the former Eli Lily Estate, whose creator's name has been lost in the mists of time. Or the ethereal painting, The Church of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice by Monet.

To contemplate sublime art can trigger connections you would never have made otherwise. It can speak to human nature when words are insufficient. It can teach history, demonstrate compassion or courage, express yearning.

And for whatever reason, trying to make my way as an "artist" drained me and caused me to forget just how much I can be touched by such artworks. They became things to be studied, rather than evocations of transcendant experiences. Part of what I learned in my journey as an artist is that you have to teach yourself to look at what is actually there - lines, colors, shapes, shadows - rather than what your brain says something should look like. In studying these masterful artworks, I broke them down into lines, colors, shapes and shadows. And in doing so, they lost their ability to take my breath away.

It's not easy to make a break with something that has become a big part of you, but sometimes it can be more painful not to. When you believe your growth as a person requires a change, it's foolhardy to refuse. I will still make art now and then, probably more paintings than mosaics, but it will be strictly for my own satisfaction. Since I already have a house crammed full of art (my husband paints as well) I may throw things up on Facebook or Instagram once in awhile and see if anyone is interested.

So, yeah. That's it. Thanks for the support and encouragement over the years. I have truly appreciated each and every one of you. Wish I had something to offer you in return.

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