Sep 6, 2012

Staying Focused with Your Art

I must admit I sometimes get artist block. Frequently lately, in fact. But it's not the artist's block you'd think. Most people thinking of artist's block as not being able to come up with something to paint, draw, sculpt, etc. I have the opposite problem. I get blocked because I have so many ideas I don't know which one to work on.

Sometimes it's just too many potential paintings of a subject. I think I have enough reference of certain subjects, like wolves, to last me for years. I struggle with, which of these 400 wolf photos would make the nicest painting??

But on top of that, it's also trying to decide what subject to paint, and what style.

Oh, I think, this idea would be cool to paint! But maybe it's too different from the style I usually do.

Oh, that would make such a unique painting! But, it would probably lack wide appeal.

Creativity aside, then I have to get past the issue of size. What size paintings should I do?

It's no secret that I want to make a living at my art so that, naturally, I can keep doing art, instead of shuffling papers in a cubicle somewhere. Because of this, I need to consider marketability. There's a nice little online market for small original works, under 8"x10". So should I paint that size? I can sell quick and make a few bucks here and there.

The problem is, besides the fact that small sizes don't allow me to do the level of fine detail I'm obsessed with, I don't want to just sell my originals. I want to license my art. Product manufacturers want large originals to work with. So all really small work is basically unlicensable. But, of course, larger works take more time, are priced higher and, thus, harder to sell than small works. So, sell quick now? Or hold off on a sale and license later?

Ugh. So what do I work on? New styles? Unique subjects? Small pieces? Large pieces?

I have had a hard time focusing lately on just where to go with my art. I finally realized I'm getting nowhere thinking about all these things intellectually. I had to decide what drives me emotionally. What do I really want to paint? Thinking about what I really want to paint, not just what will sell the quickest or license the best, is the only way I can get focused.

Sure, making a living at art means you need to consider things like market appeal. But it shouldn't be the main goal. There are so many different potential markets out there it will drive you nuts trying to decide which way to go if that is your only objective. You need to consider the marketability of your art within the context of what you want to do. Then you'll be able to zero in on just what you need to work on today.

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