A Question of Faith

Gresik-Escalator-web“Escalator” by Joanna Gresik (acrylic, conte, paint marker and graphite/canvas)

This summer I spoke with a young artist. Fresh from a Master’s degree completed in June, she’s just beginning her artistic career. She was finding these weeks a huge transition. When you’re in school, you have structure. Feedback. Community. The expectation of production and growth. When you’re working as an independent artist on your own, sometimes it feels you have little of that.

And when you’re working as an independent artist on your own, you also sometimes wonder about money. Is anyone going to like these things you make?  More to the point, is anyone going to pay for them? How are you going to support yourself while you find out?

What a young artist may not know is that these questions never go away permanently. Even though you might build your artistic career, might create community, might figure out how to get feedback and keep producing and grow, might even sometimes make a living, you still wonder.

The thing is, I knew this young artist’s paintings would sell. They’re lovely to look at, interesting, distinctive, thoughtful and well-painted. I was completely sure that if she put herself in the way of her audience and kept on making her work, she’d be able to take that first big step.

By now, I hope she feels some of that same faith. She certainly has the right to. Because even with her doubts, she did one of the most important things any artist can do. She offered her art to the world. Between the 30th of August and the 20th of September, she participated in three big art fairs. And the results are in. She’s sold most of her inventory – nine paintings in one weekend alone.

I just knew it.

Here’s the question. Do I have that same faith in myself? Am I willing to let the questions and the doubts exist and go on offering? Is faith the answer to all those wonderings? Even if faith sometimes feels like all I have?

Or if I have faith, do I have everything I need?

How can you create faith in your own artistic life?

(This post is for Joanna and Alison. I wish you faith.)

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6 Responses to A Question of Faith

  1. Natalie September 24, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    I grew up in a family of artists and art teachers. I myself have been a proffesional artist for 20 years. What I have learned is that you don’t create for the money you create because you have to, it’s in you and you have to tell the story. If you are an artist for the money it’s hit or miss sometimes you sell lots other time nothing its all subjective. Art is not about money. May I suggest a book that may help you. “Artists on Art” from the XIV to th XX century published by Goldwater and Treves. This book will answer you questions!

    • Laureen September 24, 2015 at 5:29 pm #

      Natalie, I do know! I’ve been a working artist for 30 years and the questions never stop coming. Maybe that’s the way it’s supposed to be?

      Thanks for joining in the conversation 🙂

  2. Suzie Cheel September 24, 2015 at 5:12 pm #

    I love this Laureen and very timely as I am just writing a post about having the faith to share you gift with the world and be okay about receiving. As you know that has been a challenge for me 🙂 Congrats Joanna

    • Laureen September 24, 2015 at 5:28 pm #

      Something tells me it’s a challenge for all of us 🙂 Out of our hearts and souls we make something that wouldn’t exist otherwise. Sharing it can be really scary. Suzie, you go!

  3. Marlena September 26, 2015 at 10:22 am #

    That’s a tough one because it is when we put our artwork out into the world that rejection is not just possible but a simple fact of art life. We need to somehow reconcile the sensitivity that is required for creation with the thick skin required to deal with rejection. I have had exhibits where nothing has sold and I have had exhibits where everything has sold. I have been true to my artistic vision in all of those instances and each experience has helped me to both change and stay the course. I have learned from the public’s reactions to my work, and I have learned not to take it all too seriously.

    I find that I am actually most successful in having faith when I don’t think about it! I charge forward and create – just immerse myself in the research and creation of my artwork. Easy, right? Ha!

  4. Laureen September 26, 2015 at 5:15 pm #

    Marlena, you have a very balanced approach, and it’s great to hear. I agree – the best parts are the charge-ahead-and-create parts. Sometimes it feels easy and sometimes it’s like how long can I hold my breath underwater!