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September 2013



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Marketing your Art--part 8--two thoughts...

This one will be short, but both concepts are very important to me, and I hope they help you, too. Neither is specifically selling-oriented, but both add a lot to our satisfaction in what we do. Both enhance and enable creativity, too, I think.

First--do what you can live with. And even more than that, do what you love.
Remember what Joseph Campbell said--"follow your bliss." Making art may not always make me blissful--God knows sometimes it's frustrating and tiring!--it IS what I want to do with the rest of my life. I do it to earn my living, I do it for fun, I do it to relax, to cope, to celebrate, to focus. It's how I respond to the moments of my life.

Vassmer's Road, Winter
Vassmer's Road, Winter

Paint what you care about. Create what you love. It can't help but shine through your work, and someone will respond in kind. At a recent art crawl, someone walked up to me with one of my large framed pieces and his checkbook in hand...and I was delighted, because it was one that I loved doing. It was the painting above, done on a country road I visit and paint often. (You can click on the image to see notes on how I worked, on my Flickr album.)

If you love landscape, florals, horses, people--concentrate on those things. Get at the heart of them. Explore them fully. LOVE them, and let that show. Paint what you feel deeply about–even if it’s painful. You will find an audience.

Doing what I love has allowed me to write and illustrate books like Creating Nature in Watercolor, below, and I'm happy to say it's found a responsive audience.  I've gotten lots of comments from people who tell me how they love doing just this. 

Creating Nature in Watercolor: An Artist's Guide

Click on the link, above, to look inside the book, if you like--I can't link on LiveJournal except through a text link, sorry!

This is not just about making art, of course. If you're a songwriter, write what moves you, what you're all about. If you're a poet, share your deepest feelings, or your humor, or insights. Writers are often told to write what you know. This doesn't necessarily mean the mundane details of everyday life, but what's in your soul.

And if commissions make your stomach hurt (they do mine) try to keep them to a minimum. The money's nice, sure, and it can help pay the bills--we ALL have to do work we're not wild about from time to time--but if you're miserable? Not worth it. Find another way.

The other important thought involves the most important advice anyone ever gave me. “Pass it on. Help someone else along the way.”

When I was very young, I was trying desperately to get a job in art. I had no experience so couldn't get hired, and couldn't get experience without a job–the classic Catch-22. Finally a very kind gentleman in an advertising agency told me that although they had no openings at that time, he’d help me learn the ropes, the lingo, the procedures and tricks–and then told me I could say I had "worked with" his agency,. (Which technically I guess I had--just not paid..)

I was overwhelmed by his kindness, and when I asked what I could do in return, he simply said "pass it on." I have, whenever I've gotten the opportunity. And it’s paid off a thousandfold throughout my life–as did his kindness to me, like ripples in a pond.



Thank you! I would like to frame this and hang it where I can read it daily. I didn't always have this kind of resolve, and don't always still, but now I am at least more aware of how important these concepts are :) Thanks for saying this so well.
And, glad to hear the tests went well!
Ann N.
Thank you, Ann, I'm delighted you found it helpful. I think we all need reminders and support from time to time!

And thanks for the good wishes, too!
Kate I love this post. It really speaks to me thanks
You're welcome! These two things have been the most important guiding concepts in my working career--and that spans DECADES. I don't believe I'll ever be rich, because I don't have the drive or the ambition, but I AM happy in what I do. I like my life, a lot. Rather have that than pots of money, ANY day! ;-)


Excellent advice... much of which I needed to "hear" right now. Thanks so much for sharing!

So glad it was a help, Carol!
Yep, two messages, both important. :)
They have gotten me through 30-plus years of freelancing and still happy!
This post is really the essential YOU! It speaks volumes about your character and approach to life! Wish more people felt and acted as you do! Thank you!
Well, thank you! I do feel it's one of the best roads to happiness...and we certainly have ENOUGH, if not a huge surplus. We always eat, we always have heat in the winter and gas in the car. Life is GOOD, when you have those things and work you enjoy.

And I wish more people did, too--they'd be a lot happier. Envy sucks the joy right out of you!



Can You please explain how to do the tree foldge in this painting and your others. I have your book but not understanding. I know there is brush work but honestly cant figure out. Hope you and yours are doing well.

Re: watercolor

In this case, it was mostly drybrush...a lot depends on the texture of the paper. This is a rather rough cold-pressed paper--I just used a light, skimming touch with the side of the brush. I think I put some notes on the Flickr image--if you click on the painting it should go to that page. Maybe that will help!