Blog 4. Fish in the Dog tank

Each time I paint a picture that I get to what I would term as “the end of it”, that I'm happy with, a keeper. I'm faced with the inevitable question of “so... where am I going to put this one?”

I have shuffled the paintings on my wall innumerable times. They've moved up as close to the ceiling as I can manage and as low as they can go without being behind items of furniture, between each picture there's less than an inch of gap. I have rules: 1. No, I'm not going to put them on the ceiling. 2. No pictures on doors (that would be just annoying). 3. Not all of the pictures on the walls can be my paintings alone (it can't be all me, that's too much me). 4. No pictures in the bathroom (it's steamy in there ffs). 5 No pictures on the kitchen tiling (I rent). 6. No pictures in my housemates rooms (they won't let me!). Even with these rules in place I have something like 75 pictures, that I have painted, hung on the walls in my house and then some in piles. A few have been sold and are waiting for the buyer to be ready to receive them or for me to deliver or post them. But most of them are waiting for me to get over my issue with sales and marketing.

The more I paint, the more of those paintings I feel are keepers (my opinion I grant you). I love painting or making things, what I don't love is sales and marketing! Would that I could be in a position where someone does that stuff for me but my artist profile is such that I have no name and therefore no level of prestige or leverage. To get that, leg work has to be done and I am literally dragging my heels because of, well.... those things that we all suffer from, imposter syndrome (“I'm not good enough”), fear of rejection (“I'm not good enough”), opening myself up to the judgement of strangers and overcoming a task that I have designated to be difficult. I know that doing the difficult things is where growth and achievement lies, and I have done difficult things before, put myself out there, with on the most part positive repercussions from those actions. There's no “but” after that statement, only me waiting for me to take action.

The longer I ignore this work that needs to be done to take me in the direction I desire to go, the more it looks like a greater task than it really is. I have said to a friend who is currently in Mexico that, if by the time he returns in a couple of months, I have not got some artwork displayed in places where the public can actually lay their eyes upon it (I mean live and not on the internet), then I'll tattoo the words “peas” and “mash” on my knuckles, which I've been talking about for ages as a joke, sort of. Actually, I might do that anyway because I think it's funny. The point being though that while I pose my problem being running out of wall space, that is not really my problem.

I think I'm good enough at this art thing to make it sustain me financially, sure I've got a lot to learn and I'm at the beginning of it really but I know from experience that making a living in the arts is possible. I was a professional juggler and entertainer, I wasn't the best one but I made enough money to live in London and have a lot of fun. I found out how to operate in the available avenues to earn money and it worked. I still know many people who do that and I also know visual artists that make a living through their art. The key is tenacity. Tenacity in achieving the skill level you want, tenacity in making the contacts that you need and tenacity in keeping on getting up each time you fall.

There are bundles of successful artists (success being making a sustainable living out of it) who in my opinion are not technically that good. Art is often said to be subjectively appreciated and to be honest I've heard a lot bollocks talked about certain works of art by critics, historians and curators. It's the name that often sells and the connections or leg work that get you the name (i.e. the recognised profile). But... it's there to be had if you want it enough.