When artists look for validation.

When artists look for validation outside of themselves, things can get yucky.

For the most part, since April, I have been happy with my painting, and really enjoying the process. I almost always enjoy the compliments I get (I say almost because I’m still working on really taking them in, rather than dismissing them).

Participating in the Gorilla House Live Art battles is really giving me something to work on, as my dear friend Tietje pointed out. Last night, after the auction, and after a fun night of painting, instead of being happy that my two paintings were bought by Valda, a lovely woman who was eager to purchase both, I was instantly bummed that my pieces sold for the lowest they ever have (in a total of four auctions) while other works were getting up to five times as much as mine. As Tietje pointed out, I am allowing the purchase price of my paintings determine my self-worth. I don’t care so much about going home with cash in my pocket, but low sale price seems to equal crappy art, which logically means crappy artist, or not an artist. See how my mind works?

Having had a morning to mull it over, I would say that there were a bunch of little things that ended up in me perhaps not turning out my best work: the themes were not ones that I could immediately relate to; I tried something a little different towards the end of one of my paintings; and I had to pack up my stuff about 10 minutes early to get out of the way for the auction. Being the first adult to auction paintings probably didn’t help much, either, but now I’m kind of looking for reasons why my paintings weren’t the problem.

Things to work on:

It’s OK to have bad days.

It’s OK to produce bad art. That doesn’t make me a bad artist.

It’s OK to feel bummed sometimes. I don’t even have to look for reasons why.

It’s OK to want validation, because without it, aren’t we producing art in a vacuum?

Validation, or lack of it, doesn’t define who I am.

“Success isn’t permanent and failure isn’t fatal.”
Mike Ditka (like my brother says, “Art is just like football. You either win, or you lose.”)


18 thoughts on “When artists look for validation.

  1. Michele tsang

    I would say that participating in such a spontaneous creation of art can be exciting but it can also make you take risks in your work that you may not take if you were alone in your studio. Taking those risks will ultimately bring growth to you and maybe evolve your work into something new. That can be exciting, keep at it.

  2. belknits Post author

    So true, Michelle. Not only that, but knowing I can produce 2 paintings in 2 hours, while being watched, is something that I am weirdly proud of. I suspect this may be a useful ability. 🙂

  3. Melivist

    I don’t think the artwork is to blame, I think you need to look at your marketing. Next time maybe a higher reserve bid? Then keep the painting if it does not sell. Are you required to sell? Maybe it could fetch a better price online over time. Those two special people that loved your work just didn’t make it out last night. I know you have fans across Canada! The best work pushes boundaries – I think you did that with these pieces, Congratulations.

    1. belknits Post author

      I have played with changing the reserve bid, so I don’t think that’s an issue. Last week I also did $20 r.b. and sold them for twice as much. The time I made the most, my reserve was $30 each, and when I had a $40 reserve bid, I didn’t do as well, either. One of my priorities is getting my work out there, getting it noticed, so I am not inclined to save the painting to sell at a later date. I am happy to help out the Gorilla House this way. Thanks for your comments, Melissa!

  4. Esther Budd

    In some weird way, you and I are most alike in the fact that we can always find the worst way to interpret an event. We can also see the best case scenario, but that ‘worst case’ erodes and sometimes destroys the best. It’s like the devil on one side saying one thing, and the angel on the other saying just the opposite. My advise – listen to the angel. She’s your gut, telling you how great you are, how accomplished, artistic, talented, beautiful, smart, loving, caring, and wonderful. DON’T LISTEN TO THAT OTHER GUY. HE’S NOT YOUR FRIEND AND CANNOT BE TRUSTED.

    1. belknits Post author

      Mom, what I remembered last night, while talking to my friend Cheryl, is that it is best not to completely shut away that other guy (the “gremlin”, the negative voice, the critic). It is a part of me and will always be a part of me. The challenge is to speak back to it differently, to treat it in the gentle, loving way one would a child. By pushing against it, it tends to get stronger and fight back. It’s a tough thing to do, and to remember to do!

  5. Sarah Stevenson (@redlinereno)

    Bel: what you are doing is amazing. Think about it. You created two pieces of art in two hours. Most people cannot make one piece in a lifetime. We are always our own worst critic. I would take the sentence you wrote: “One of my priorities is getting my work out there, getting it noticed..” and go with that….always go with that…you are so talented and don’t forget it!

    1. belknits Post author

      You’re right, Sarah. I am really proud of being able to produce two paintings in two hours while being watched! There might be a market for this somewhere…

  6. Painter Lady

    Hmmm…thought provoking, Belinda. I suppose this is all a matter of a personal perception of things (yet again). See my blog entry about Beauty. During the Gorilla House Live Art auctions, I’ve felt that my strongest pieces have gone for the lowest prices…so, for me, there is no correlation at all. Something in art, speaks to the viewer. In that, there is a mystery. Just my thoughts.

    1. belknits Post author

      Thanks, Kath. I love hearing from you about this. Like Rich said, there are way too many variables going into how much someone is willing to pay for art. I kind of lost sight of that on Wednesday.

  7. Marjie Kemper

    I totally understand how you were feeling about this. Keep in mind the stretch you made just starting going to those events recently, and how much growth that indicates. I am amazed you can produce so much in such short time, and I love your style. Keep on putting yourself out there and i’m sure your $ will increase too.

  8. Jon

    I know this might just be a little off the subject but I have questions. You see I’m looking for some sort of validation myself and not having an easy time of it. I’m dealing with the prejudice that digital art isn’t real art and thus I’m not a real artist and not worth bothering with. I say I am a real artist and that my work is just as good as anything traditional but what I want to know is this, at what point is an artist either digital or otherwise recognized as an artist? Is the artist counted among his fellows when he or she finally sells a piece or when their work ends up in a gallery or could it be when others see the work and say that’s a work of art? Is digital art, photo manipulation and the like really only good for advertizing, comic books and junk paperbacks or can it stand on it’s own merit without as is?

    1. belknits Post author

      I don’t feel that I can answer your last question, because I just don’t have the knowledge or experience to speak of digital art.

      In terms of when you are recognized as an artist, I think that’s when you yourself consider yourself to be one. Sometimes this doesn’t match up completely- I think others called me an artist before I was ready to call myself one. And I imagine the opposite happens too- that someone considers themselves to be an artist, but it takes awhile to get the recognition from others. I really think it just comes down to our own view of ourselves. What others say is unlikely to sway me from what I think of myself.

      But that’s my first guess- what do you think?


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