Clawing At Success

Recently, (actually, a little over a year ago) I made a decision to pursue a second career in art. Having little talent, and no formal training, I enrolled in a Visual Arts program at the local Community College. To be honest, I don’t know what I was expecting. All I knew was that I liked to draw and doodle and felt I might be able to enjoy my retirement and earn some extra money while trying something that made me truly happy. So here I am one year later. Contemplating how I might break into the art world and have some measure of success. Yet obstacles abound. First and foremost, NO gallery owner would dare to take a chance on an unknown artist. They would never stake their reputation or invest the financial well being of the gallery on someone who’s only claim to fame is a year of college courses in artistic painting. Someone who has spent thousands of dollars on paint and canvases and sold but a few. In my mind, getting into a gallery has to be by someone’s recommendation, bribery, unrivaled workmanship, or sheer dumb luck… Second is the lack of availability of amateur art shows…. I am not talking about local Farmer’s Market art, I mean real juried exhibition shows…. and juried shows, well, most are expensive to get into just in entry and space rental fees. Not to mention that they require a large outlay of initial capital (several thousand dollars in fact) for tents, walls, and other boutique style furnishings. Furthermore, there is professional signage,  photographic enhancements of the submitted works being put to the jury, transportation and lodging, etc… That outlay does not even guarantee a single sale of work or a win at the show. But then there are no guarantees in life, so it is more about the capital, or lack there-in that is the real issue.

So instead of banging my head against a wall wondering, I wake up early every day (4 A.M. on most days), have a cup of coffee, and sit at my easel working on my next “Great” masterpiece. I will work for several hours until I have either classes or work at my part-time job, return home and complete any assignments, or at the very least study for a few hours, and then I return to my easel to continue painting. I work on the basics of form, value, and composition, highlights and shadow, have some more coffee, work some more, cook dinner for the wife (she’s not retired), clean up the kitchen, watch a little TV with her, and eventually end up back in my studio till bed time. While I have done a few word-of-mouth commissions, those are few and far between and unreliable as a source of steady income. So I go about my daily life, all the while wondering if I am just wasting my time on a pipe dream. Another completed work.. time to start the next one that will clog up even more space in my little makeshift basement studio.

Barn (Oil)

Until recently that is… Sometimes, in life, you just have to open your mouth and say something, and sometimes you DO get lucky. A few days ago, I visited my local framing store to have something I painted framed. It was a truly nice piece and I decided to enter it into a blind auction for a local art center that I happen to be a member of. The owner of the framing establishment also happens to have a small gallery of sorts where she puts on small exhibitions and hangs works for sale. I had mentioned to her while we were discussing the upcoming auction that I had a few more pieces in my truck that I was going to have framed, but I was only allowed to submit one piece for the auction. while her gallery is currently full with an exhibition, she kindly asked to see the two other pieces. So, with some reservation about what her reaction would be to the quality of work, I obliged her and retrieved them from my truck.

Willow Falls (Oil)

To my astonishment, she opted to keep one of them to hang in her gallery and sell. Realizing the huge chance she is taking, I thank her profusely, and left feeling like I was on top of the world. Will my piece sell… Who cares..! It would be nice if it did, but the bottom line is, it is a foot in a door to the art world. So I am renewed… Clawing my way to success one canvas at a time…

Author: jggregoryStudios

Undergraduate Student Westchester Community College- Visual Arts