Saturday, June 19, 2010


1. Not feeling comfortable calling myself an artist - hence the painter title. This is a personal thing, I know, because I know many wonderful artists who still call themselves painters because they just don't feel like they are where they should be. That's me. I'm not there yet. But WHERE is THERE?

2. Not working on having a solid show schedule for my work so it can get out there and be seen...and possibly purchased. We all know we want our work to be seen, even if we say it doesn't matter. Otherwise, we'd be in our rooms, painting away, no groups, no blogs, no classes, just us painting and not showing our work to anyone.

3. The price of drawing and painting supplies (like everything else) going up so I feel I shouldn't buy that new tube of paint or that paper or... I feel like I should have enough money from my artwork sold to pay for my art supplies and framing, but I don't so it's always another cost I can't seem to justify to myself or others.

4. Not being able to stand back and realistically critique my own work. This is a big one for me. I want to be able to stop, stand back, and look at my own work the way I can look at another's work. I want to be able to take off my painting glasses and put on my critiquing glasses and see what needs to be changed/revised. This may be a matter of just slowing down, for me - putting something aside for a day or two or a week or two and then looking at it again another day, not just the day I finish it.

5. Learning something new and interesting which I think I want to incorporate into my own work, but being unable to figure out how to do that. I also want to know when to incorporate something and when to let it lie by the roadside.

Here is an iffy one for me:

6. Being unable to promote myself to the degree to move from feeling like a painter into the realm of feeling like and being an artist.
Promotion! You've all heard the talk: "She's so full of herself. He thinks he's great." Why do we say these things when an artist is simply promoting her/himself in a way to get the work out there to be seen by the most viewers? And if I feel that talking about my art and myself is an egotistical thing, how can I ever do it?

So, do I want to paint well and call myself an artist?
Do I want to show my work and sell my work?
Or do I just want the satisfaction of creating something beautiful that can make me glad I'm still doing this.
These same questions bubble up every now and then...and I guess they keep bubbling up to the surface because I haven't answered them.

And the big question: Are all these questions here just to keep me from doing my best work = giving me an excuse to not take that leap and jump into something different?

What are your biggest frustrations? It is space, materials, light, time, money, fame? I'd be interested in hearing what you think...


Christiane Kingsley said...

First of all, does the fact that I, and probably all your blogger friends, consider you an artist make a difference to you?

Does one really have to sell to be an artist? Van Gogh never sold anything:-)
However,is it not the essence of the artist to question one's work, one's talent? Personally, I think that once a person is satisfied with his or her work and does not feel that she must continue to grow, that person is no longer an artist: just a craftsman that can repeat what worked before.

I don't show much, therefore I don't sell much. Why is that? Mostly because I have a full time job and have little time to devote to painting. Consequently, my biggest frustration is the lack of time for painting. I dream of being able to paint full time. Soon, perhaps:-)

Ginny Stiles said...

Oh my.
Top Frustrations.
Seems a "glass half empty" discussion I'm afraid.
I read all the things you wrote and wished I were there having a "cuppa" and chatting about this. I have a few "artsy fartsy" friends in FL that love to do that. We have an "art tea" and we talk and talk and try to "get it out in the open"...all those obstacles you talk about and more!
It is all quite personal because we all come to art from different places and for different reasons. And each one of your frustration points could be an afternoon of it's own!!!

Just having a discussion on what is an "artist" (as opposed to painter or some other term) would be an afternoon of chat!

The other issues: WHY we paint, selling our work, critiquing our work, learning new things, self promotion, and personal obstacles to creating art... Whew. Let's see what the others day about all this.

Myrna Wacknov said...

Rhonda, what an interesting post! Where to start? Let's start with a totally new defining word....I was just reading a great book and she talked about "Creatives" Call yourself a "Creative" which I think fits. What we say to ourselves is very becomes a self fulfilling prophecy. Next, find a venue for Christmas selling and get a booth. Next, design a semester art course for yourself. Limit yourself to a few areas of focus....what do you want to master first? Schedule your "class times" on your calendar and recruit one or two others with similar goals to keep each other accountable, to encourage each other and to critique each other. If you want a good sheet to follow for critique, e-mail me.

Candy said...

Hi, Rhonda! It's been a while since I stopped by. This post really surprised me. Before I share any of my frustrations, I have to say you are a wonderful artist. Call yourself whatever you darn well please. Nobody will argue with you. As for "getting there", maybe nobody ever gets there. It would be the end of all the fun, wouldn't it?

Shows will come. Your work will sell. Don't think twice about buying a new tube of paint or fabulous paper.

It's hard to critique your own work. Besides, that's what friends, fellow artists and art classes are for.

OK, my frustration is that I have trouble getting myself to sit down in THAT ROOM to paint. I love to paint. I have trouble getting started. I have plenty of excuses - teaching, doing housework, blah, blah... I'm off the month of August. Let's see if I can get beyond the excuses:)

It's summer. Have some fun, fun, fun!

RHCarpenter said...

Thanks so much, Christiane. I know you all are kinder to me than I am to myself (isn't that always the way with us silly humans?). No, you don't have to sell to be an artist but there is validation in someone else wanting to own something you've created that isn't there when someone says, "Pretty painting!" I agree with the questioning - if we stop, we stagnant and think we're "there" right where we need to be and don't need to learn more!
I definitely understand that I have been given a rare gift of an early retirement to use that free time for painting that others spend in cubicles and offices.

Sorry you think think is a negative talk, Ginny. I think you and I definitely don't see eye to eye on things. To me, it's an open discussion about things others feel and think and it's good to hear that you're not alone in this.

I don't know, Myrna. Being a creative seems a bit new-age, out there type talk to me! haha I know what you mean, though, and there is so much we can learn from one another about the process, the fears, the frustrations. And sharing a bit of the bitter makes it less bitter. So...I'm going to start like you said: schedule a semester class for myself, learning some things I want to explore and learn - great idea and that's very appealing to my temperament! I have already taken the first step away from whining and toward winning, making space for myself in the basement/garage for larger paintings!

Hey, Candy! Good to hear from you. Sorry you got into a discussion and not just a beautiful painting (or a ruined painting, whichever! ha ha). I know that feeling of making yourself start, too - I think it comes from fear of failure...we think we may not be able to do what we've set out to do so we just don't start. I have a lot of artist friends like that, and yet they paint beautiful work when they do sit down and paint.

Thank you all for your comments and input on this. I know there are other blogs out there that work on this art and fear and art and frustation topic...along with growth, it's part of us and I think I'm at that bitchy teenage stage right now! haha

Jeanette said...

I think all these questions come to all artists at some point in life. I don't know if I can prioritize them for me, as they all pick at my bones at some point.

The transition to calling yourself an artist is a personal decision and comes with your own conviction that it is what you are, not someone else's definition.

You may also still be finding your niche, the thing that drives you in art in terms of subject. Right now there may be many subjects and many techniques that interest you but you shouldn't try to emulate everything you see or every workshop you attend.

Spend money on the workshops that help YOU grow and help you achieve what you want. A smattering of many techniques won't lead you down the path that only you can make.

As for selling, just do it! What is stopping you? (besides the inner voice of self doubt).

Concentrate on what you do best, ignore what everyone else is doing and produce, market and immerse yourself in art. You are an artist.

RHCarpenter said...

Jeanette, thanks for your insightful comments on this. I liked your phrase "they pick at my bones," because it is that painful a situation at times when you doubt, question, feel sadness about your journey and where you're going or if you're stuck somewhere. Ah, my niche? Now that's another question...what thrills me, challenges me, makes me want to paint it? I find artists who paint the same thing all the time a bit boring. I mean, I couldn't possibly focus on just landscapes, or just figures, so I think subject is not the issue but style and to capture light and shadow...and color, luscious, vibrant, crazy color...that's where I want to go. Color, light, shadow - the subject doesn't matter if you get these three right. As for selling...I think I'm not selling because I waffle between thinking it's important for validation, and thinking it's totally unimportant for me, as an...ARTIST.

I want to thank you all for comments rendered! It's great to know that you're out there watching and waiting and liking some of my work and questioning others :)

deborahspalette said...

Rhonda, What a stimulating thought provoking post.
My Thoughts might sound like this,
Why as humans is it so important to put a title on who or what we are? Approval? Acceptance? Frustration is..Once you put a title on someone it puts them in a box or category Limiting the possibilities, Growth and purpose.
When do we stop seeking the worlds approval and only seek Gods approval? We are, who we are! Created to use our gifts and talents, we are complexity of our experiences past and present.
I don't want a title to value who I am, Because I am so many things.
I think, if you feel compelled to create you were made to create. A piece of the puzzle that makes you, one of a kind! God's original.
Artwork to me is a piece of my heart I share with others, to bring God Glory and Praise by using the gifts he has blessed me with.
Make art & create, that is what is important. Share it, sell it, cherish it and honor that part of who you are. Trust you are right where you should be.
Perception can be limiting, nourish what has began in you. Embrace it, and let others critique your work.
We are, our worst critics!
Only my thoughts! Which come from my heart. Many Blessings, Deborah

RHCarpenter said...

Deborah, thanks for sharing this! Lots of good insight, including what really struck me the most:
"Perception can be limiting." Now that is a whole day's worth of thinking about I could do just on that one statement! A title limits calling myself an artist will be just as limiting as calling myself a painter...or a doodler...or anything at all. Some good thought to chew on.

Joan Sandford-Cook said...

What a fascinating post to read right through from top to bottom with all the wonderful replies you received. Such a lot of feeling straight from the heart from everyone.
Working with mixed groups I find that the word ' artist' means more than only a painter ie photographer, sculptor, writers etc, so I am described as a 'painter' and I am proud of that. Thats what I do - I put paint onto canvas or paper and create life in my own way - different every time especially when using different media, but my golly I create. ... and so do you. You are UNIQUE my girl - everyone of us creates this stuff called art differently because we are that and we have experienced that and we feel that. We are unique creatures who create who know there is something more than just this physical world!! What a glorious phrase!! Sorry, I must stop rambling through my whirling fingers. We are each a child of the universe and painters and other artists have been given the privilege of this something very special that just makes us want to do it whether we sell or not, our work is praised or not, or we can't critique it ourselves or not but my it just pours out from within and is part of us. So there!!!

Jeanette said...

Whether its a label that you call yourself, sales in the bank or your ability to become comfortable in a technique, only you can work through these.

They all take time and commitment and the willingness to give yourself permission to do so. Right now, I don't think you you are allowing yourself to do this. We all find obstacles to throw in the path to whatever we wish to achieve.

Only by ignoring or removing them, can we reach our dreams. There is no trick to doing well in art. Its down to hard work and yes it sucks big time some days and yes it takes years to achieve. Marketing, creativity, technique, practice, etc, etc. come by self sacrifice. Sorry, but that's how anything is achieved in life.

There is only one way past this. Just do it and don't make compromises for anyone. It really depends on how badly you want to do it.

Jeanette said...

I also meant to add, that the prime obstacle thrown in the way is 'I haven't got time'. Sorry can't buy that one.

I have a full time job, a farm, an aging parent and I find time to paint or draw every night after work for 3 hours minimum. I show art, I market art, I sell art and I teach art workshops. Its all about the 'want' factor.

MB Shaw said...

Hi Rhonda,
Boy oh boy, what a can of worms and I wish I could tell you that all these issues will magically disappear someday. LOL. I cannot tell you how many times I discuss this sort of thing with my artist friends.
For me, I suffer from a situation of over stimulation - I get really excited about a lot of ideas, subjects, colors, mediums, blahblahblah - I am sure you get what I am saying - what happens is that I will spin out of control and completely lose my rudder. Knowing this about myself, I frequently have to put on blinders and intentionally *stop* reading magazines, looking at art books, even blogging - because it tends to derail me from my true path. And finding that true path - hmmm, it is a moving target, isn't it?? You might think my path would be perfectly resolved by now, but it remains a moving target. At some point I actually started to enjoy this fact, but it is not necessarily easy.
I so wish I could offer some brilliant insight or wave a magic wand your direction.
All I can say for sure is that you are wonderfully talented and I know you will figure this all out. Keep doing what you are doing. Paint, journal, process. And don't underestimate simple time spent doing things such as just walking around, lying under a tree looking at the clouds,or even pawing over colorful yarns in a yarn store. Take yourself on 'artist dates' a la Julia Cameron. It is so valuable - that time off, whether playing, doing yoga, meditating - is invaluable for me and will often lead to clarity.
And remember you have tons of friends here for support. You can call on me anytime and I am happy to offer whatever I can or just listen if that is what you need.

RHCarpenter said...

Joan, you said it! Whether it causes us frustration anxiety or pure joy, this ability to create art is truly a privilege! So a little salt with the sugar once in a while and that will season the pot just right :) Thanks for these comments and this upbeat message - you made me smile but with a little tear in my eye.

Jeanette, I see you as a woman who does not suffer fools lightly! I have the time and I will make the commitment - how can I not? If I didn't paint, I'm not sure what I would do. It is who I am. I know you work hard, study hard, and you share your knowledge with us all on your blog - for that, too, I am very grateful.

Mary Beth, you sound so much like me - just vibrating with ideas and plans at times - so much so that you become "rudderless," as you said. Perhaps that's what I'm doing right now...buzzing around rudderless. I hope not! And if so, I hope I find my true north and begin to steer straight again. You are such a special, caring lady and I'm glad you are my friend :)

Now I've gotten so much good advice, although some contradict others: should I go on an art play date and look at art in museums, view sculpture, scan the landscape for potential paintings - or should I shut myself away and just create what wants to come out of me? I think a little of both would be a good balance and I'm not going to stop visiting each of your blogs because you all inspire me and challenge me and make me think.

RHCarpenter said...

I wanted to share this with you all - this is something I wrote a while back and have as my signature on gmail:

If you have a burning desire to create art, you will lean into the flame of that desire, rather than shy away from it. You may sometimes get burned - you may enjoy the glowing warmth of success. Whatever the outcome, you will not be able to withstand what pulls you to create something meaningful, beautiful, and lasting.

May we all keep leaning into the flame :)

Prabha N. said...


Cathy Gatland said...

Hi Rhonda - it's a long time since I've taken time to browse and read blogs, but I'm so glad I saw this post, with all the wonderful thoughtful replies - it really reminds me what a valuable resource and support this art blogging world is. Just when I am in a very frustrated space and not knowing whether I'm an illustrator, a cartoonist, a painter or a general dogsbody - it's so helpful to read other's experiences, suggestions and gentle remonstrations. Thanks for raising this topic that's hit a nerve with so many!

RHCarpenter said...

Cathy, so glad you did stop by and read this one and that it helped you a bit :) I'll have to remember that saying about being a dogsbody!! Not something we Americans say but I know what you mean :) It's wonderful that there are a group of bloggers out there who, when I'm feeling stuck or in a rut, give me a gentle push or a kick in the pants to get me going again! We can all do this for each other - I would hate to think of you struggling because I love seeing your work and admire it a lot (it's something I cannot do and your drawing skills are so good - you capture the energy of a scene so well). So keep on documenting life as you do and call yourself whatever you are comfortable calling yourself - others will call you an artist :)