Paint Schoodic

Join Carol L. Douglas at beautiful Acadia National Park, August 6-11, 2017. More details here!

Friday, June 30, 2017

Niggling

The things that fizz at the corners of our consciousness are distracting. That’s why I share them with you.

Historic Fort Point, by Carol L. Douglas, painted for Wet Paint on the Weskeag.

Earlier this week, I pondered why artists embrace so much hard work for so little return. This question has niggled at me. As I was careening up the twisting streets of Boothbay Harbor to this week’s destination, I decided that artists are like movie starlets. We need to be at the soda fountain if we’re going to be discovered.

I know one actual starlet, Keren Coghill. As far as I can see, Keren doesn’t spend much time sitting, at the soda fountain or anywhere else. She’s either working, working out or answering audition calls. That’s of course true of successful visual artists as well.

There are no guarantees. We apply to shows or galleries that ought to be slam-dunks, but are rejected. Others are impossibly beyond our reach; inexplicably, they accept us. This isn’t fate. It’s a numbers game. The more places you apply, the more you’ll be accepted. The more shows you do, the more you’ll be seen. The more you’re seen, the more people will buy your work.

Rachel Carson sunset, by Carol L. Douglas, painted for Ocean Park Plein Air.
My relationship with the Kelpie Gallery started with an event I decided to do at the last minute, Wet Paint on the Weskeag. I had 48 hours between the end of my Sea & Sky workshop and a flight to Scotland. Why not plug one more event into that already absurd schedule? Tired and with no expectation of success, I painted well and won the Juror’s Choice Award.

The Kelpie Gallery is holding an artist reception tonight for Summertide at The Kelpie, from 5-7 PM. If you haven’t visited this gallery, it’s a treasure. Owner Susan Baines keeps her stable of artists to a manageable number. The space is light, airy, and well-utilized. It’s at 81 Elm Street in South Thomaston, just down the road from the Owls Head Transportation Museum. Since I’m now one of Sue’s artists, I’ll be there.

Jonathan Submarining, by Carol L. Douglas, painted for Castine Plein Air.
Until then, I’ll be in my studio, trying to figure out if a painting is finished. Some artists love these last brush strokes; I do not. An engineer friend once told me that in most projects, 90% of the effort goes into 10% of the results.

Or, as Tom Cargill of Bell Labs said, “The first 90 percent of the code accounts for the first 90 percent of the development time. The remaining 10 percent of the code accounts for the other 90 percent of the development time.”

I generally like to buy self-help books and put them on my shelf unread, the idea being that I’ll get the message through my credit card statement. It’s better when someone else reads them and tells me the precis.

Boston Post Road Bridge, Mamaroneck, by Carol L. Douglas, painted for Rye Painters on Location.
Bobbi Heath is reading Growing Gills by Jessica Abel. She posits that undone creative ideas are corrosive. They sit in the back of your mind and niggle at you, making you anxious and unproductive.

That is what I think about undone housework and unpaid bills. Are unfinished paintings the same? My studio is full of them. Like most artists, I find finishing work to be the hardest part of painting.

I used to be a font of crackpot ideas, but I’ve noticed that the harder I work, the less I experience off-task mental fizzing. That’s partly because my brain isn’t bored. It’s partly because working at set times trains our minds to concentrate. Whatever the mechanism, it’s a blessed relief.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post as always. I struggle with the balance between painting and promoting, wondering if I am overdoing the latter or underdoing the former... and where are all the people hiding who might like my art...Alan Spinney

Carol Douglas said...

Alan, I took an art marketing workshop where the presenter said she spent 50% of her time marketing. In practice, that makes me crazy; I shoot for 33% of my time.


One of the best ideas about managing this in practical (time flow) terms came from Bobbi Heath. I follow her system religiously.

Her blog post about it is here:

http://bobbiheath.blogspot.com/2017/05/does-your-todo-list-look-like-this.html

David Hunter said...

"Until then, I’ll be in my studio, trying to figure out if a painting is finished." - My art professor in college, Bill Leete (I only took 3 courses) told us, "It takes 2 people to make a painting, one with a brush and one with a hammer. The one with the brush paints. The one with the hammer hits the painter on the head when it's time to stop."

Carol Douglas said...

Thank you, David. I couldn't find the hammer so am using a mallet.

Annette Koziol said...

I love these paintings shown here 😊

Carol Douglas said...

Thank you!