Those of you that follow me on Facebook know that I sketch everyday, sometimes more than once a day. Sketching gives me a chance to practice my observation skills, build confidence in all aspects of drawing and painting, and it provides a sense of structure or foundation for future paintings. I don’t like fancy terms like creative process, so let’s just say it’s an integral part of the way I work.
Several people have suggested that I sell my sketchbooks, and that the work in them is art in its own right. That’s great to hear, but I wouldn’t ever sell them–I’d love to exhibit them at some point, but only to show that the art we create does not always have to have a commercial value in order to be worth doing. As a professional artist, that may seem strange, but I’ve found lately that I am happiest to be creating art that is purely for myself. I don’t have to feel guilty about making too many sketches–they are self-contained in my sketchbooks and easy to store. I love the idea of the sketches in them NOT being available for sale, they are not a burden to me and I can go back and look at them whenever I want, often remembering exactly what was going on the day I painted them.
I am definitely painting less formal pieces since I started this obsession with sketching in watercolor, I will only produce enough work in oil to sell in select exhibitions at the galleries that represent me and at the Salmagundi Club of NY. I like the direction I am headed in, and know it’s the right thing to do at this point. There is no pressure to get another painting done only to wonder if will sell, which gallery I should offer it through, etc. While I don’t believe that commercial success and quality are mutually exclusive, becoming a better artist is definitely my priority. I think taking a step away from the commercial side of things to focus on development is necessary from time to time. Anyone in a hurry to get gallery representation so they can start selling take note–there is nothing wrong with doing this purely for yourself. It’s hard to take a break once you’re on the professional path, always maintain a source of income separate from your painting sales that you find stimulating and creative. In my case, it’s my teaching–my workshops and classes are my way of earning a living in a creative way that does not affect my ability to stay focused and true to my goals as a painter.