My friend “Ohio Greg” (I must know twenty guys named Greg), calls us the top 2%. Us - referring to the artists that get to do their art without any interference from such mundane things as outside employment. Not even college art faculty experience the range of freedom exhibited by this small percentage of artists.
So what happens in this vast array of “free” time? While I was gainfully employed in-the-world, I was already producing around 200 paintings/year; so why have my production numbers not gone up with this great influx of time? It is a common misunderstanding, amongst my family and friends, that I “retired-to-paint”… in order to actually paint. I already spent every moment painting. Sure, now my scrolls are larger and the works themselves have an even deeper meaning based upon more time for philosophical and religious research…. But my actual production numbers are pretty much unchanged. The truth is I left the greater workforce in order to spend time on self-promotion.
I spend most mornings dredging the internet for show opportunities, writing letters, printing labels, touching-up the website, working over the day’s blog posting and rearranging portfolios (which, often includes re-shooting images of paintings). Late-morning till dinner at six or seven, I paint. After dinner and through the late evening, I usually paint some more, read for research or some combination of both.
The whole PR thing really is important; ask any artist that doesn’t have exhibitions lined-up. It just grows old every once-in-a-while. At this moment, I’d really rather be reading that copy of Commentary on the Diamond Sutra by Hui Neng (Thomas Cleary, translator) that I checked-out from the library.
I’ve started a new series of scrolls which feature the human figure as the major component of the composition. The muse is the figure, the inspiration derides from the various Sutras and how they incorporate into our basic human existence as we interact with one another. I haven’t worked this heavily in the figure in a couple years; there was a time when that was ALL I painted. Visiting Ali Cavanaugh’s studio and witnessing her musings on her daughter must have had a deeper affect on me than I thought… or maybe I just dig the excuse to paint from life again. –DN