To begin 2009, I read the book, The Creative Call, which reminded me that I have a calling to create, that it is a spiritual calling that when exercised, will fill me, not deplete me.
After reading this book, and taking a holiday on beautiful Salt Spring Island, my husband and I made a very radical decision. I returned from that amazing vacation in British Columbia to leave work at a full time position and take up being an artist - full time. Many factors influenced that decision - one of which was having a non-malignant pituitary tumor removed in September of 2008. Major events tend to make one re-think life in ways nothing else will.
In addition, I decided I would set some goals for the year 2009, and work toward them with diligence. These are the goals I set to guide my time this year, and how I have done in accomplishing those goals:
1. Paint 50 paintings.
It is December 11th, and I have painted 46 paintings to date in 2009. I may end up with 50 by the end of the year - or I may not - but one thing is for sure. If I had not set that goal number, I know I would have been nowhere near as productive as I have been. (And I didn't start as a full-time artist until March, so I am especially happy with my progress as I really didn't have a full year to accomplish this goal!) I didn't determine that the paintings needed to be any particular size or medium, which was a good thing. This gave me flexibility and room for experimentation.
2. Find 2 galleries to represent my work.
I set about investigating this goal about mid-year, and found many surprises along the way. I discovered that there are not many galleries interested in representing a watercolor artist. The reasons? Watercolor is expensive... each piece has to be matted, framed and under glass. This adds significant cost and weight to each piece.
If a client buys a watercolor, and it needs to be shipped, the weight of the glass makes the cost of shipping much higher than oils or acrylics. In addition, the packing of the painting needs to be different so that if dropped, the frame/glass are not twisted/broken. And if they are? The insurance for shipping is very high to cover such events. And if the glass breaks and cuts the painting, it is destroyed. Therefore, watercolor paintings are very expensive overall.
AS WELL, I was told that the same sized watercolor as oil will only command 2/3rds of the price. This blows my mind because watercolor paper is more expensive than canvas, and as you now see, the total cost to the artist in materials and framing are more expensive...
So, I did not pursue galleries this year. I am contemplating some changes for 2010 which may put me in a different position for either resetting this goal, or dropping it entirely. This will probably be expressed in some way in my 2010 goals in January.
3. Enter a painting into a juried show.
I entered several paintings into several shows. Sunny Trio was entered in the San Diego Watercolor Society's annual show, but was very politely declined. However, their letter encouraged me to try again... so I might enter another painting in 2010. As well, I entered several online competitions, but did not walk away with any prizes.
One thing which encouraged me is that I received an invitation to enter an emerging artist competition in the U.K. with my painting of Baby Giraffe (which you can see here). Unfortunately, the invitation came too late in the year, when I had already spent my budgeted amount on entering competitions, so I declined the invitation. For me, it was not about winning, but the discipline of "putting myself out there" as an artist, and taking RISKS.
4. Enter a photograph into a juried competition.
I entered a photo of sunflowers (which I have never put up on the internet) into the IPA contest (International Photography Awards). This is a very prestigious, world-wide photo contest that I never expected my entry to do well in. Again - it was about taking the RISK to just enter. Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail letting me know that my photo of Sunflowers had made it to the semi-finals and if chosen at that level, would go on to compete for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place overall! The photo stalled at this semi-finalist level, but I was so thrilled - it was as if I had won!
Other "events" which happened this year that I did not have as goals but which propelled my career forward were teleconference calls I listened to with several coaches I respect.
One of those calls led me to take a Master Class which extended over a 6 month period with Ariane Goodwin, author of "Writing the Artist Statement" and creator of the SmARTist Telesummit and Geoffrey Gorman, artist and gallery curator for 15 years. I have learned SO MUCH about being an artist from this experience that it was invaluable! It was a lot of work, but I am in a very different artist space at the end of 2009 than I was at the beginning of 2009! My artistic confidence has been impacted for life!
From what I learned with Ariane and Geoffrey, I put together a home studio art show this November which I ran similar to a gallery opening. It took a ton of preparation, but when the event was finally happening, it was fun and very fulfilling, with 55 people visiting over a 2 day period.
I was involved in 2 art shows this year, and donated a painting to a live auction fundraiser for a seizure dog for a little 7 year old girl. I opened my Zazzle gallery, my Etsy store, joined Twitter and set up a Facebook Fan page. I was interviewed on-line by another artist, Lee Ann Petropoulos, and in the midst of all these things, I went traveling 5 times this year, to different parts of B.C. 3 times, driving from Alberta to Ontario and back in July , and our big trip to Mexico in August.
It has been a full year. It has been a wonderful year. I feel that I have given much effort to get my new career on track, and that I am ready to go to the next level in 2010. Thank you to each one of you who has been a part of my journey. I hope you will stay with me as I go forward into new adventures and new directions in 2010. I think it will be surprising, fulfilling, challenging, and definitely exciting! I'm looking forward to it. :-)