top of page
  • sharmondavidson

Onward and Upward: Re-committing to Your Art

goddess figure in white dress sleeping amid roots and flowers

Garden of Dreams, monotype with mixed media, 21 x 15 in

24 FEBRUARY, 2023

 "Ever tried? Ever failed? No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better."                       ~ Samuel Beckett

Lather, Rinse, Re-commit

Lately, with regard to my art, I've been feeling like I'm in a holding pattern. After my Ordinary Goddesses collage series, there was no real direction in my work. Nor, as a matter of fact, was there any focus or forward movement in my career in general. Following my best year ever in 2021, sales were flat in 2022. And what was I doing about it? Nothing.

I think even my blog posts are becoming  repetitious: Here's an obstacle I encountered, here's where I failed, here's what I'm doing about it. Lather, rinse, repeat. It suddenly dawned on me that the previous sentence is pretty much a summary, not just of the life of an artist, but of life itself.  The human condition, the human struggle in a nutshell. We try, we fail, and hopefully, we learn enough to enable us to find the courage to try again.

Something Different

Human beings are creatures of habit. Even when we think we're starting fresh, we tend to do the same old things we've always done. What's that saying? If we keep on doing the same thing, we'll keep getting the same result? So, try again, yes, but this time, try something different.

After a bit of soul-searching about my personal definition of success (you can read about it here), and my rejection of some ridiculous excuses, I decided to re-commit myself to my art. I waited most of my life to be a full-time artist, and I'm not ready to give up yet. I'll try again. Fail again. Fail better. But fail (or maybe even succeed) differently.

post it notes about setting goals

Setting Goals

To begin with, I needed to set some new goals, aligned with my own definition of success.  A major part of that, for me, is getting my work out where it can be seen. On the home page of my old website, I state in part:

Recently I decided that I want to focus on sharing my work with as many people as possible. Art is a form of communication, and my message of interconnection is more important in today’s world than ever.

The other part of success, for me, is to be able to supplement my income with proceeds from art sales. With those things in mind, I began to think about ways to accomplish them. I'm going to share with you exactly what steps I'm taking, in the hope that other artists will find some of this information useful. So, here goes!

monotype closeup detail of green blue and yellow plants
detail of work in progress

 It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to.     ~ Marilyn Ferguson

"It is never too late to be what you might have been."     ~ George Eliot

Onward and Upward

Concrete Action 1: Webinar

With the overall goal of selling more art, finding gallery representation is a top priority. A few years ago, the gallery I'd been selling in for 25+ years closed down, and another one I tried for a couple of years didn't work out.  I have relationships with several non-profit galleries, but they don't represent artists the way that commercial galleries do.  As a first step, I turned to the expertise of Xanadu Gallery owner and RedDotBlog publisher Jason Horejs.

If you don't follow his reddotblog  you're missing out on a lot of really helpful information. He knows his stuff, and presents it in a clear, easy to follow manner. I had already completed my digital portfolio for presenting to galleries, following his free instructional video.

ad for Jason Horejs webinar

Then, I took Jason's paid live webinar, Get Into Galleries and Sell More Art. This is a step-by-step webinar detailing how to get gallery representation for your art. I don't usually pay for webinars, but I thought this one was well worth the nominal cost.

Concrete Action 2:  Body of Work

teal and green plants monoprint
detail of work in progress

Some months ago I began putting together a body of work large enough to supply one or more galleries. This takes time, and lots of just plain old hard work. Other things - including other bodies of work - had to be set aside. It isn't finished yet, but I think I probably have enough pieces to at least start approaching galleries (20 - 30 pieces suggested). The pieces in this post are part of that new body of work.

Concrete Action 3: Gallery Research

Right now I'm slowly compiling a list of galleries to submit my portfolio to. The "slowly" part comes from just not having time to scour the internet for galleries that might be a fit for my work. It would be great if I could afford to farm this out to someone.

That said, I'm so grateful we have the internet as a resource now. Just think how much more difficult and time-consuming this task would be if I had to drive to every city, find a copy of their yellow pages, and go look at every gallery in person. Yikes!

Concrete Action 4: Organization

As an artist and businessperson, the more organized you can be, the better. However, this is really challenging for many artists. There is just so much to organize. I've been whining about this for years; you can read about it here and here.

Keeping track of my work has become especially difficult. At one point last year, I had work in six different places. Despite my genius system of a binder full of lists on paper, there were times when, if looking for a particular piece, I could not account for where it was, or even if it had been sold.

monoprint sand hill crane in barren orange landscape
detail of work in progress

Concrete Action 5: Framing

Yes, framing - my least favorite thing. I have recently gotten back some work that had been out and about. One of the galleries had asked me to change my mats to all off-white, instead of off-white with a black undermounting (see image, right). Since then, I've framed all my new work the same way, but there are still several that need to be re-matted. And of course, all of the new pieces will also need to be framed.

This means I'll have to go through all the work I have  and count up how many matts, frames, mounting boards and plexiglass I need. It will be a huge and expensive order, to say nothing of the work necessary to put them all together. But, it must be done, and I can only hope it pays off.

little girl holding an egg with seed inside
detail of work in progress

"Begin doing what you want to do now. We are not living in eternity. We have only this moment, sparkling like a star in our hand - and melting like a snowflake."  ~ Marie Beyon Ray

I finally had to admit that I needed some kind of inventory software. I researched and shopped around, and while I haven't made a final decision yet, I'm leaning toward Artwork Archive.  I suggest the Software Advice website for comprehensive reviews and comparisons; I looked at others as well. I'll let you know what I decide on and how it works in a future post.

Re-committing to Your Art

girl in blue dress in post-apocolyptic landscape
detail of work in progress

Re-committing to our art is something many artists do, very possibly more than once. Life is complicated and unpredictable, and we all deal with obstacles, burnout, and uncertainty about what we should be doing.

If you're an artist, you'll undoubtedly realize that the actions outlined above are only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more than I could even begin to fit into one blog post. But the five actions I've listed are the main ones I'm attempting to implement right now.

I hope this post has been, at least in some way, helpful to my readers. If you have questions about anything, please don't hesitate to ask. Also, I'd be greatly interested to know if anyone has been through similar things themselves. Have you ever re-committed to your art career, or maybe even decided against it? If you did re-committ, how did you go about it? Was there anything you did that was particularly helpful or effective?

I can't wait to hear from you! In the meantime, I wish you all peace, love, and art!

"The world is round and the place which may seem like the end may also be the beginning."    ~ Ivy Baker Priest


bottom of page