Thursday, October 11, 2012


I am not sure when it happened. The adventure of making multiple small paintings- manageable with my limited time, validating in an almost immediate gratification sort of turned into something else. And I don't like it.

Recently, an opportunity unfolded in front of me to get some of them into an upscale store in an upscale town where upscale people from upscale places come to do their upscale shopping. Those little paintings were gone in a week. I was flabergasted. And faced with a choice...was this a very wonderful one-time "thing", or would I pursue additional exposure in this venue.

I chose the second. So I burned out another series of "smalls". While I was very happy with the paintings, I was less than happy with the transformation happening in my brain...and in my heart.

Suddenly, the excitement and wonder of being counted "good enough" to have my art alongside some other way-better-than-that art wasn't enough. I negotiated how much they were going to sell for. I felt the burn of pride when I was told that I was still an "unknown", and that I must be careful not to price too high.

I felt myself racing against the clock to drop off the goods to the store, and recognized the feeling of pushing against something in my spirit. I felt like I couldn't breathe.

This business side of making art- this need to circulate it and make it part of the world outside of my own doors always feels like it will extinguish the very tenuous flame of creativity that keeps threatening to smolder.

Yesterday, I decided to listen. I decided to ask God the question- am I headed down the wrong path? Did I become so enamored with the thought of my little success that I am willing to sacrifice the spontaneity and wonder of the work for the thrill of the sale? Have I, in a way, commercialized myself? I needed a reset.

I think that the misplaced need for my work's worth to be measured in money got in my way.
I forgot that I don't need to be measured in the world's eyes, with the world's scale.
I forgot that my worth lies squarely in the hands of the One Who created me.
(And oh, by the way, he didn't negotiate a price for me after he did that.)

It is funny how when we forget our worth in God's eyes, our true worth, we either elevate ourselves and feel the pinch of pride when we are brought back to reality, or we struggle and fight to prove ourselves unnecessarily.

In a way. I think that every artist must wrestle with this issue. I don't know the answer, on a practial level. I do know that every time my art or creative life has resulted in making a little money, it has become sour to me and the joy is lost. I never want that to happen with painting.

So I must, I must, I must remember Who is the behind-the-scenes Source of all of my little creative efforts, and I must remember that the dollars are not the point and are not a measure of my worth, and I must put my trust in Him to guide and direct me to the right and best outlets for the work that I do.

And if you are struggling with these issues, join me in this conversation, because I don't think it's going away any time soon!