paint to sell?

can't do it.

Some (most?) may think this is crazy.  Isn't this part of what an artist has to do to make a living?  If I can't paint to sell, should I really be putting all my energy into this painting/art business?  How is it possible that there is any future without, at least, finding some sort of balance?

It's not that I am being stubborn, really.

I didn't paint my first cow (or the hundreds that followed) to sell my work.  Sure, at that time, I didn't need to.  I was a full time teacher and earning my keep in an alternative way (in an alternative universe, actually).

To my shock and surprise, the cows were a financial success though.

And then there was a sense I was done with cows.  I even painted a cow titled, "Preparing for another direction".  This doesn't mean that every once in a while  a cow doesn't cross my consciousness and I find myself having to paint him or her.  It's just for several years, now, it's been rabbits and more recently, bison.

There are reasons for my interest in these subjects.  I've written on these reasons here.

But why can't I paint to sell?  Especially in financial or creative lulls?

This feels especially difficult for me to understand let alone articulate.  What I think to be true is if I begin a painting with the only aim being to sell, all of the sudden the painting becomes entirely about what I see or how I think the painting should be seen.

Instead of seeing, I want the viewer to experience.  And like the viewer, it's important that the painting is created in the midst of my own experience.  This initially feels like the strong ignition of something inside paired with an undeniable connection that just won't disconnect.  With the proper time and space, there is a surge of fuel and flow.  And then, as I have mentioned before, there is life (in the painting).

And so, for today, because this IS how I earn my keep, as an artist, by painting these paintings, I need to practice continuous trust that if I stay grounded in myself, honor my process and always commit to my work, the selling will take care of itself.


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