“Is one better or worse than two?”
“Is two better or worse than three?”
So went the conversation at my recent eye exam. Which, I had studied for yet didn’t pass. My eyes are in open revolt with me, their staged protest of being in my fifties. I no longer have to squint to see value, I just take off my glasses and I’m good.
Back in my studio, the eye exam’s innocuous question of, “Is one better than two?” kept coming back to me. Have I been doing the things I needed to do in order to make “two” better than “one” but not as good as “three” will be at the end of 2018? (For you math nerds: Is a<b<c?)
Are you taking the journey or is it taking you?
This line of questioning really struck close to home as it’s the new year and everyone is running around either writing their new year resolutions or trying to act upon them by not eating chocolate (why?) and exercising more (why again?).
Somewhere in all the resolution haze I had to wonder if I was taking the painter’s journey or was it taking me? These are two diametrically opposed paths. One is intentional and one is passive. However, neither is necessarily better than the other because the approach is dependent on your intended outcome.
If someone wants an all veggie topping on their pizza, bless their heart. However, I happen to enjoy a meat lover’s pizza. At the end of the day, they’re both pizza and can coexist side by side on the same table.
The trick is identifying which approach suits you best and then being intentional on your approach. Which best fits your season of life. If you want to hang a painting at the local museum you need to be harder on yourself than someone who just wants to sling paint on the weekend.
The Day I introduced my Perception to my Reality
However, when your perception of reality is distorted from your actual reality you need a new a prescription.
When my painting journey began, I painted from photos maybe once a week and read some articles. I was content. Then somehow I sold a painting. Overnight, I was now an “artist” whatever that meant.
Wasn’t I now “entitled” to be in a gallery and juried shows? The possibilities were endless. However, the reality was my paintings weren’t selling, I wasn’t near getting into any gallery nor was I getting into any shows. My perception was that I was good (Hey, I sold a painting) but reality told me there were many miles of uphill climbing before I’d even begin to get close to being ‘good’. At a 2014 workshop the instructor said to me, “You call yourself an artist but quite frankly your drawing skills are abysmal.” Perception, I’d like to introduce you to Reality.
Reality is my only best Friend
If you are content with having fun painting on the weekends – you’re perfect. If you want to get into galleries and shows – you’re perfect if you’re doing the work. All I’m asking is that you don’t cross the two like I did. When your perception writes checks your reality can’t cash, it can get pretty ugly.
For me, I’d like to get into galleries and juried shows maybe even this year. Hope isn’t a plan, doing the work is. My artist journey happens every day and is completed one painting at a time. There are no short cuts to doing the work required. Doing the work is actually easier than making excuses to not do the work. There’s only one way to get better and that’s to do the work day in and day out.
onwards and sideways,