Fly, Detail, 36 x 48” / 91.44 x 121.92 cm, Watercolour on Paper, 2006
I tried writing this blog once before, and it turned into the ‘epic saga’ of my other career, lol. So this is me starting over focusing on just my art practice.
I’m pretty sure I’ve referred, in so many words, to the ‘double life’ I’ve led for a long, long time on the jillablog—there’s two people in me (and unfortunately, they’re both nuts XD), namely the artist and the writer.
Both of them have degrees; the writer got her degree first, and for years, the writer supported the artist in pretty much every way imaginable. Every cent the writer made went to buying paint and paying for classes, which eventually turned into paying for art school proper, and funding the practice. If Vincent had Theo, jillamonster had the jillawriter.
The writer wrote the artist’s proposals, press releases, social media posts (and this blog ^_^). The writer never seemed to have a problem with that, because that’s just the way it’s always been.
Then one day, the oddest thing happened.
The artist got burnt out.
She had to take a step back to get some rest and do a little hard thinking about how to proceed with the practice. (Because there was no way in Hades she was gonna give the practice up ^__^)
But because the artist was on hiatus, taking Praxis classes and such, another odd thing happened: The writer began to assert herself.
(And this is why my first attempt at writing this post turned out the way it did—I didn’t even finish it LOL)
So before this second draft turns into another sordid retelling of office politics, demanding clients, data mining, algorithms, updates, proofreading and platforms, the writer told the artist: ‘Maybe it’s time you supported yourself, for a change.’
The artist was taken aback for a bit, because that wasn’t the way it’s always been. But something inside the artist rallied and said, ’Okay, I will!’
And that’s how this next chapter in my practice began.
I admit it’s a little scary, because in a lot of ways I’m headed into unfamiliar territory—definitely outside of that ‘comfort zone’ everybody likes talking about.
But the artist figures that if the writer can start getting a little more assertive than she’s ever been throughout her long, ‘subservient’ career, maybe the artist can, too.
It’s not that I’ll be doing anything radically different; it’s just I’ll be adding, or amplifying my efforts to ‘help my monsters reach more people’ and to hopefully make a difference in the way people see things.
And I’ll be going about those *efforts* in a slightly different way, too.
As I write this, I’m not 100% sure of what this next chapter is going to look like, but I figure ‘seeing through a glass darkly’ is still seeing ^__^
My best-laid (though still somewhat vague) plans include:
(You can understand how I’m writing these for myself as much as for you ^_^;)
1. Doing online shows. I guess this is pretty much a sign of the times, and my time at Praxis has exposed me to the many different ways in which I might mount one of these for myself. On top of being an exciting, new way to get my work out there, the idea of doing independent online shows appeals to me as a way that might give me more control over my time and energy. (After all, I also have to save some of that for the jillawriter).
2. Not giving up the brick-and-mortar gallery shows. Before I began my art classes early last year, I had all but decided to not just hit the brakes on exhibiting, but park the car, altogether (as in, in a garage, not just pulling over for a pit stop).
But I’ve very recently been advised to ‘not park the car’ on doing shows in physical spaces just yet, as doing so would affect the value of my work. I feel I owe it to everyone who’s ever acquired my work over the years to make sure that what amounts to their trust in me doesn’t turn out to be misplaced in the long run.
3. Doing online marketing. It’s funny, really, how I used to do what I did at work for almost five years and not actually use it for myself. I mean, the press release-writing skills I came by in my previous places of business came in handy back when I made the rounds of the papers, so how was it I never did the *digital thing* for my practice?
I don’t know, really. I guess the ‘time management’ thing had something to do with it. In any case, I plan on rectifying that error going forward. Besides, all those things I learned from all those art classes won’t amount to a thing if I don’t apply what I’ve learned.
Some of the things on the drawing board in line with this *evil plan* of mine include fixing my social media accounts, working on my email lists, revamping my website, and making it easier for people to acquire my work.
4. Not stopping the dreaming. Do you think it’s sad when people stop dreaming? As in when people stop hoping, or wanting things? I’ve heard it said it was actually desire that was the root of all evil (which is good because LM Alcott was right, money is just so dang useful, lol)—trouble starts when people want things.
When I got burnt out, I found out what it was like to stop dreaming—to just give up and not want things anymore. It’s easier, to be sure. A lot less troublesome. But it’s also kind of sad. As in empty, kind of sad. Like eating when you have a cold—you don’t taste anything.
One thing I think I’ll always be grateful for from Praxis is that I started to dream again. The classes reminded me of aaall the things I still wanted to do for my practice. I think it’s crucial for you to not stop dreaming; in any case, when I did, I only stopped dreaming of ‘doing things’.
The ‘monster dreams’ were still there, and they’ll probably never go away, so I must continue to dream of ways to get them out of my head and onto paper or canvas. (Wouldn’t want them to get all crowded and claustrophobic in there; it’s not a very large space ^o^;)
I’d like to think I’ve begun taking a few small steps toward carrying these plans out.
As I write this, I’ve started to prepare for my first online show under the auspices of a museum.
I have to admit it’s rather nice to ‘have my hand held’ as it were for my first foray down this hitherto unexplored avenue, and I’m rather looking forward to a time when I might ‘take the training wheels off’.
I’ve also sort of started reaching out to galleries, again, and hopefully this time I’ll find the going slightly easier now that I kind of know better ways of going about it.
And, I’ve spoken to someone about getting my website fixed. My parallel persona has allowed me to develop a healthy respect for what web devs do and I wouldn’t, for instance, dare to do my own plumbing or pull out my own tooth (if you know what I mean). Sometimes, it’s just better to get professional help ^__^
I do think I also owe it to the people who have very kindly expressed their interest in my work to make it easier for them to own it, so I’ve been looking at ways of enabling that, too.
What I do need to do sooner, rather than later is to work out a schedule.
You know me, Little Miss Schedule ^_^;
My forever conundrum is figuring out how to make the best use of my time so I can fit all this into my day-to-day. I used to wish I lived on Venus (or whichever planet that was that had 40-hour days) but I figure I would probably never have enough time no matter what planet I was on ^o^;
If there’s one thing I couldn’t help noticing ever since I began practising in earnest, it’s how quickly the time passes—even when I’m resting! I just woke up one day and, boom! There went 10 years. Then 15. Amazing.
So if there’s one thing that has to happen in this whole new chapter (‘don’t you dare close your eyes’ ^__^), it’s acknowledging the fact that I’ll have to be not two, but three people from now on. I’ll have to be Bruce Wayne, Batman—and Alfred XD.
Because Bruce Wayne will be in the office all day, Batman will be battling Resistance (as defined by Mr Pressfield) all night, and Alfred has to take care of ‘the dirty work’ of running ‘the painting factory’.
See, the business side of an art practice has been brought home to me like never before over the past year, and everyone knows that running a business is also in itself, a full-time gig.
If there’s one thing, again, I’ve learned about entrepreneurship, it’s that you have to be all-in, or not at all. Just like everything else I’ve chosen to dedicate myself to, I can’t do it half-heartedly. (And I don’t think anybody would ever accuse Alfred of being a mere clock puncher at Wayne Manor.)
I’d be lying if I said it didn’t scare me a little.
It’s a tad intimidating, really—the prospect of having to have what is, in effect, three jobs when just having two was proving to be quite a challenge for me already.
But that’s the part where the jillamonster rallied and said ‘Okay, I will!’ when the jillawriter suddenly (and rather inexplicably) expressed the need to find out whether she could be ‘more’ than ‘just a writer’.
Besides, the writer has other things to support now apart from the art—like, uh, Jill ^_^
I don’t realistically expect things to happen overnight, ‘things’ meaning the practice finally being able to support itself (and hopefully before I get too decrepit, everything else)—but I’d like to think I’ve at least gotten the ball rolling. And hopefully, it’ll snowball before too much longer.
What’s key for me is that I have marked the start of this new chapter. It’s scary, sure, but awesome, too (think Will Smith and skydiving). And I’m just really, really grateful for all the opportunities that are coming my way right now (for both the jillamonster and the jillawriter) and especially for aaall the unconditional love and support I’m getting from family and friends. (That skydiving video? Was recently from a friend ^_^)
So I hope you’ll come with me on my next great adventure.