In this time of media and information overload it is easy for artists to get caught up in the whole tussle of marketing. This is understandable. The internet and all the possibilities that go with thousands of apps, social media and wireless connectivity compels us to try something. Not to do so seems almost negligent. Are we not supposed to improve our business skills in this new age? Must we not all be self-sufficient and productive?
Aside for a few celebrity artists who can live like recluses while their agents do all the messy marketing, we need to take charge and make things happen. Yes I know that I have only seconds to get a collector's attention when there are so many other artists offering their work online. I know, rather vaguely, that websites must be optimized and this is called SEO. I expect that I will need a teenager to explain it all, but I shan't bother because there are better things to do. Like painting.
Running after sales can be time consuming and stressful. Vincent Van Gogh would no doubt agree. So Vincent left this job to his brother Theo, which was not the best move in art marketing history. Yes it is stressful and I find that this hampers my work. Painting is for me an emotional thing. Not technical. Of course there are many techniques in painting, but once I get an idea for a painting I go for it. It is an emotional process. My mood has a direct bearing on the painting. There is simply no getting away from it.
Van Gogh's quote above may seem to describe his process as a technical exercise. This is surely a mistake. He was rather talking about persistence. Van Gogh's work is seething with emotion. There is no doubt that Van Gogh, once he had an idea in mind, painted with furious attention. Every brushstroke is filled with vigour. His trees, for instance, would writhe like snakes on fire. The farm fields appear to be baking in the heat and the figures broken and bent under the relentless burdens of rural life.
Yes Van Gogh knew how to work hard. He would make an early start each day and sometimes work until after nightfall. Pushing himself to extreme's of mental and physical exertion was evidently the wrong way to go about it. Today the experts would talk about keeping an optimal work-life-balance. Van Gogh had other problems to worry about as we well know.
The net result of Van Gogh's dedication is a body of work that is treasured to this day. Is there a more famous artist? There is even a very good song about him and we are all listening now.
What to take away from Van Gogh's process is:
Make a start and produce something worthwhile. Start again. That is what artists must do before anything else.
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