September 24, 2009

Late Summer Port Oneida
20" x 24"

Treat Farm
24" x 20"

Burfiend Farm
16" x 20"

Today I painted up on the Pierce Stocking Drive for the final time of my residency. I wanted to go there to be with the people who contribute so much to the experience here -- tourists.
I got there early and was set up on the overlook boardwalk before anyone arrived. It reminded me of getting ready to do church years ago. Then folks started to come. I heard more than one person shush the people in her party. "There's someone painting," she'd say, and they'd approach with whispers or in silence. I would, of course, invite them in close for a look and explain what I was doing there. (Though, because of my "official" shirt and name badge and other NPS bling, it wasn't hard to figure out.)
Anyway, it was a lovely sunny morning. The views were stunning and easy to paint. The landscape here is now embedded in my consciousness to the extent I can feel as well as see it. It's more clear to me than ever after this three week immersion that an artist is painting his or her inner landscape as much as or more than the outer one.
It also strikes me that in the days when I was "doing" church as a Unity minister, I drew inspiration from life's possibilities -- the potential for creation in individuals and groups -- what might be. Now, as a painter, I am primarily inspired by reality -- what is, right in front of me. It's always only ever a matter of seeing. I'm reminded of Alice Walker's brilliant character Shug from The Color Purple, something she says along the lines of "I think it pisses God off if we walk by a field filled with the color purple and don't notice." I am intoxicated with the reality of Sleeping Bear and her coat of many colors. It's the best church I've ever found.
One mishap on the dune path this morning. An elderly lady fell in love with the piece I was painting. She asked how much I was selling it for and when I said nine-fifty, she said "Is that all?" I wondered if I was asking too little for my work. As we walk to my car to discuss the purchase (after my residency is up), I come to find out that she thought the price was $9.50 not $950 as I'd had in mind. I'd taken her for an affluent art collector who believed my prices to be extremely reasonable (as they are for this area) whereas she was actually a retiree living in a mobile home on a fixed income. After many apologies for the confusion I gave her a card with the image of one of my paintings and showed her how she could frame it and make a nice piece. I loved that she loved the work.
Putting a price on a painting is one of the most challenging parts of walking this art-spirit path. It seems that everyone who loves a painting should have it. Yet, I have significant expenses associated with my artwork as well as the need to make a living. What I do looks like such fun to casual observers, yet it is definitely work -- inner and well as outer work -- and somehow all of this wants to be compensated. My agreement with myself is to work with admirers who want to own a painting to see how we can both get what we need.
It's easier when there's someone else doing the wheeling and dealing so I'm on the lookout for a good gallery in the area. I want someone who appreciates the unique qualities of my work and will represent me enthusiastically. I think I've already found one that will work really well. I'll keep you posted with the details.
My presentation and exhibit are tomorrow. Will go "home" now to clean up and make ready. Come on down -- 2:00 p.m. at the Sleeping Bear Visitor Center -- in person or in spirit. We'll inspire each other!
Thanks for reading this blog!

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