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The Joy and Peril of Self-Promotion as an Artist (Or, the Outdoor Weekend Art Show)

What it takes to be an artist.

Peril: Exposure to the risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost.

Joy: The emotion evoked by wellbeing, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.

As an artist, I have found that if I want to have a chance at success, good fortune, or the prospect of possessing what I desire, I have to risk the possibility of being injured, destroyed or lost.

An artist's life is not one of hiding in solitude and indulging in self-expression. An artist's life demands that I must expose myself, bare my heart, and risk being disliked or ignored. That's not easy for a sensitive soul, but it's what being an artist requires.

The Balboa Island Artwalk is one of the few outdoor shows that I exhibit in. I do it because of four things: the location is at the center of my subject matter—the beach, sailing, cottages, and flowers abounding.

The second factor is because of the type of people that are there. They're the same ones who like my subject matter, appreciate art, and can afford to purchase art. It may seem mercenary to some, but as an artist, it's a lot easier to sell your work if you live in an area where people can afford to buy it.

The third reason I show my work at outdoor shows is that it brings people to the , where I exhibit my work in Laguna Beach. The fourth reason I do the Balboa show is simply because I love to BE there. The view of the harbor is breathtaking and diverse. At the last Artwalk, I saw a parade of about 30 little sailboats whisk past, manned by happy children that looked to be about 10 years old! In front of them all was a huge sea lion frolicking in the sparkling water and leading them on. Even though I was involved in about three transactions at the time, I had to stop and simply absorb the joy of it.

But last years show almost didn't happen! At 9 o'clock, when I was supposed to be all set up, I was sitting in my van full of carefully-prepared paintings with my violinist partner, Paul McIntire. We were sipping hot lattes as rain was pouring down so heavily that we couldn't see out the window.

There is something to be said for maturity as an artist. As a younger artist, I would have been stressed to the max and feeling willful that the rain stop. I would be thinking of all my bills and how I was ever going to continue being an artist. But that day, I just sat there accepting the situation and laughing about it as I enjoyed my coffee with my partner, who completely understood the peril of it all.

We both read Eckhart Tolle, and he among others has taught us the wisdom of acceptance. Paul told me of gigs he'd done outside where the wind was blowing so hard that he could barely control his violin bow. He’d have to play on and with feeling, knowing how bad the moisture was for his instrument. He knows why I do what I do. He does the same thing. We are artists for the love of it, and every agony we endure is for the bliss and freedom that we find doing what we love and do best.

After an hour of enjoying the asymmetrical patterns of rain streaming down the window, as well as our delicious intimate conversation, the sun came out. Soon I was all set up, and huge colorful crowds of people were weaving up and down the bay front, enjoying all of the artists.

All day long I had people look in my eyes with such enthusiasm, saying things like, "Is this your work? I love this painting! Where did you get the inspiration for this piece?” And of course, the most welcome comment, "I want to buy this painting."

So few people know the emotional and physical peril of making a living as an artist, or the joys of it, for that matter. The determination and dedication that it takes is huge. Sometimes you have to completely change course with a direction you've been going in order to survive. Other times, it requires that you push on with even more vigor.

But I know one thing about living the life of an artist. When I come to my final transformation, I will be able to say, "I did what I loved most, and it was well worth it."

You can see my work on the website of the Watercolor Gallery by clicking here.  My partner Paul plays there for some of the Laguna Beach First Thursday Artwalks too—his website is right here. And the next Balboa Island Artwalk is May 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for more info. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Joseph Nicoletti February 29, 2012 at 04:18 PM
i think your Thinking is RIGHT, let someone else run into Brick walls!,...a person can work "Hard" or Work Smart,, that is why we have a So-Called Brain.. Best Regards: Joseph Nicoletti consulting-Promotion Ph 949-715-7036
Barbara Lemke February 29, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Robin, Thank you for sharing your insight on your life as an artist. You have such a pure and beautiful way at looking at life. Barbara
janice hightower February 29, 2012 at 07:46 PM
Robin, I feel the same soulfulness in your written stores as I experience in your beautiful painted ones. It's a wonderful quality you posses that emerges in all you do. Janice Hightower
caedy altman March 01, 2012 at 02:25 PM
mom, I can definitely relate to both peril and joy in both my art, and my life. I live, I love, and I learn but its all thanks to you for giving me life at birth and again giving me the gift of life as an adult. I love you more than I think you know, you do inspire me. Your Daughter - caedy faith
Bella (Elizabeth) McCloud March 07, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Love your opening sentences. They speak to me and a dear "artist" friend of mine from college. At this point in both of our lives we are both adding that step, uh, vulnerability? I am getting ready to "put myself out there" yes, hard. But oh so necessary! I am starting to blog, about my "art." :) Thank you for your encouraging words!

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