Monday, July 21, 2014

Meanwhile back at camp

There are times in July when living in the mountains seems like summer camp. Only I am the camp counselor and I have work to be done. It isn't all about arts and crafts or hikes and collecting leaves. Life was simpler when it was just merit badges you had to earn. I think I would have earned badges this summer for Arts (the July solo show) and Gardening and Photography and Animal Care. Score me at least one demerit for Camp Site Care.

Wasn't life good when there were gold stars and merit badges and report cards to rate how well you were doing in life? If you have one of those 9 to 5 jobs then I suppose you get to judge your value by merit increases and bonuses. With self-employed artists it gets rather nebulous. Do you measure your success in paintings completed or just those sold. Or the awards won. Or name recognition on Google.

An art collector compared my paintings favorably with Jennifer Cavan, Tom Nobel, and Ed Sandoval recently. Nice. But that is only a personal merit badge. Life is a lot of private merit badges. It is wise to stop and take note of them from time to time. There are those personal demerits too. And I think artists often hear those above the others. It is not easy to put your life on view for public evaluation all the time. I have three novels upstairs I do not attempt to publish. And I have paintings I show only to myself.

Yesterday I was sitting on the studio stoop contemplating three new paintings, the summer cold, and how badly the grass again needed mowed and the garden weeded, and how to better market my art. I was totally ignoring the kitchen cleaning required. I wanted nothing more than to desperately do one of those camp projects which could be done in an afternoon and wins praises from parents (well, not my parents who expected the Pieta). You know the ones. The one that came to mind for me involved a pie tin, plaster of Paris, and a collection of things picked up on the morning hike. I always excelled at salt maps, dioramas, collages. Everyone at camp raved about them.

"Nice, dear," Mom would say. "Now go clean your room."

The current equivalent is, "I just love this painting. Will you take half?"

So I sit on the stoop and debate three new paintings or once again giving up on being an artist. BTW I discovered last time I tried it for two years that it was not an option. Painters have to paint. But there is always a mural in my bedroom. Or those painted risers on the stairs I have been thinking about for years.

Maybe it is just the summer cold. Or merit badge withdrawal.


  1. the slump after the huge build up to your solo show. Time to rest and refill your soul. Being an artist also requires constant vigilance to excise self-doubt.


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