“Do the art that you want to do”
I was at a local art show and an older lady beside me was selling her artwork as well. She is a very talented artist and her subject matter was Canadian landscape and wildlife that she painted on wooden objects like canoe paddles, boxes, candle holders etc. As we were getting to know each other she told me that she loves my art and in a slightly embarrassed voice she said “my art is kind of hokey”. As we talked more she showed me a binder she had with pencil drawings that she used to do a long time ago. The depth and the strength of the portraits she created from her imagination were striking. The amazing part is that at the end of the weekend she was starting to share with me all the things she actually wanted to paint and how she will be doing it soon. She went on telling me that about 4 years ago she met famous Canadian wildlife artist and environmentalist Robert Bateman. They talked as he was signing her books and he asked her what kind of art she does… when she told him, he looked at her and said “Do the art that you want to do”!
I’ve met quite a few artists like her that have a real unique talent and expression but that chose to work with a “safe” mainstream subject matter and style in hope to make a better living. I feel we should all follow Robert Bateman’s advice.
One of the artists that has inspired me to make a living from my art is Edward Spera. Edward is an amazing self-taught wildlife artist. He had been constantly asked to paint dog portraits and he refused to do so as he realized that if he gave in, that’s what he would be known for. He encouraged me to focus on my own creative work. Over the years he developed a large clientele of collectors to the point that every time he finished an original piece he knew it would be sold. He now owns two galleries where he sells exclusively his art. To me he is a testament that with time it is possible to be very successful with an art career without being a famous artist in New York galleries.
Another extremely talented pencil artist I met doing art shows is Sharon Smith. She could have made a lot of money doing commission portraits but like Edward she refused to go down this avenue and wanted to do only her art which was unique and from her heart. She went to many shows all year round, slept in her car, bathed in lakes; whether she sold well or not, she loved that she was making a living from her art and never ever complained. She had so much gratitude for her life and for her talent. She is a example of a happy successful life as a full time artist without huge aspirations of being a renowned international artist. Success is whatever you set it to be and how much gratitude you express for what you have.
I recognize it is more “dangerous” to paint what we truly want to paint. We are more exposed, vulnerable and also we take the chance of not appealing to most people. Is it a problem? Not at all!
My spirit is alive, always in creative mode, with no boundaries, no harness, no trying to conform or please. There may be fewer avid fans but the world is wide and I can attest there are enough out there to encourage me, support my wonderful blessed life and to keep me busy painting for many more years!!!
If you would like to check Edward Spera’s work go to www.speraart.ca
Sharon Smith sadly died of cancer in 2011; she asked that all her art files be removed from her computer and did not wish to have her work shared online.
And to view my artwork you may go to www.artbygaia.com