I decided to devote my life to art in 1994, and everything I have done since then, including earning a bachelor's degree and a master's degree, taking on "day jobs" as a teacher, and pinching pennies so that I can continue to buy expensive art supplies, has been in support of my studio work as a painter.
I've had continuous exhibits and sales over the years, some of them quite prestigious and lucrative. This has been partly through good luck, but mostly due to my diligence, bordering on obsession, in developing my career. For nearly 15 years, I have always maintained a fat "pending" file, filled with applications sent, leads to follow, and ideas for possible avenues for the future. I would spend hours and hours each week combing lists of calls for entry, or researching national museums and galleries. I left no stone unturned, as the saying goes.
As 2011 unfolds, for the first time since I finished grad school in 1997, I find myself with NO commitments as an artist. I do not have any gallery affiliations. I do not have any exhibits scheduled for the future. And I do not have any leads as to what to do next.
This state of things should be upsetting to an artist who has worked as long and as hard at exhibiting and marketing her artwork as I have. And yet ...
Somehow it feels freeing! I can, and have been, making whatever the heck I feel like making in my studio, ranging from paintings with thick layers of bright orange acrylic to paintings of silver spray paint. Lately I find I can relax and enjoy the art exhibits I see, rather than spend my visit scheming as to whether I should apply to this gallery or that show, the way I used to.
Maybe I'm getting older, feeling more self-assured and less restless. Maybe I've had enough experience to give me faith that eventually things will pick up again and fresh opportunities will present themselves. But for now, I am content to just enjoy being an artist, continuing to make paintings that I love. And that is enough!