Artist Problems

I’m not a natural talker. I avoid phone conversations the way some people avoid the dentist. I used to worry that my mind must be devoid of thought because everyone around me talked so much I wondered at how much they had to say! Clearly, I was painfully young and didn’t yet realise that all those people chattering away also had nothing to say. I’ve also since come to learn that my head is full of things that are best captured in pigment, not words. Which brings me to my conundrum. Now that I’m fairly competently turning the ephemeral notions in my mind into tangible paintings, people are expecting me to talk about them; with words.

Double tapped by the universe.

And to be honest, it’s not an unreasonable request that I be able to string a few coherent sentences together about my art. The article that inspired this post, advised: “Describe your work as if you were talking to someone who could not see the picture, as if the only experience they will ever have of it is what your words can tell them about it.” A sadness welled up in me at reading those words. I can’t explain why but it probably has something to do with the deep disservice I’m currently doing to my work by doing this so very badly.

The great advice in Lori’s article is bountiful. So much so that for the first time, I actually feel excited at the prospect of talking about my work.

She suggests we “describe the mood of the piece” – The mood of a painting is one of my topmost priorities and it seems like such a natural starting point for talking about my art.

“Mention the colours, but also use words that describe the colours and their effect, words like luminous, dusky, radiant, glassy, or diffused.” – Again, such an important facet of my work I’m actually looking forward to choosing the words to describe my palette.

“Think about action words. Art is not passive. What can the piece DO? Will it inspire and motivate? Charm and delight? Soothe and nurture?” – I’ve totally got this one in the bag.

My lofty goals for the next time I’m asked about my art:

  1. Say something coherent. Possibly several things.
  2. Say it in a confident manner.
  3. Cultivate the mindset of a professional artist (a pedantic note to say that I realise this is more of a pre-talk activity, but yeah).

Do check out Lori’s article if any of this resonates with you.

I think this entire problem stems from a lack of conviction that my work has value and the expectation that other people agree. I think it’s immensely important that artists be able to articulate art’s value, so I leave you with this:

“Artists capture ephemeral ideas from the ether and breath life into them. We take shapeless notions and render them anew by giving them structure, life, form and voice.

What we do and create has value.”

– “The Successful Artist Mindset” by Baang and Burne

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