Friday, April 18, 2008

Hopes and Dreams

She Dreams - oil on panel, 5" x 8.25".

This is a very recent piece, and it is very important to me, despite its small size. It is an allegory of hope, of facing one's fear, of dreaming, of looking to the future. Here's a rare thing: I am not ready to part with this, even though I've had interested buyers. Not yet.

You see, as I've said (and as I've posted) in this blog, I feel very strongly about the figure, and I want it to be a bigger part of my oeuvre. One might look at this blog and ask, "Well, isn't it?" No, it's not so much. I'm torn in too many directions. My full time position demands professionalism and skill, but gives no room for personal creativity. Nevertheless, I am compensated well enough to keep me there - more out of necessity than anything else. My art outside the commercial realm is now in flux: do I keep painting the landscape so that I maintain a salable portfolio, or do I return to the figure and fulfill a more personal ambition with a less-than-salable series of works? I have a solid history of selling landscapes, so I'm aware of what the buying public prefers (from me, anyway).

[I should note here: models need to get paid. It's an expensive proposition. It's not like a photographer who can do a TFP trade - that is - time for prints. As wonderful as the model may be, I can't give her the painting! Maybe some painting lessons? Time for Teaching?]

Why be so concerned with selling? Practically speaking, some extra money always helps. And there's that dream of one day making a living from doing my own work as opposed to completing someone else's. Yes, yes , my art is worth something to me - but does it convey what I'm trying to convey? I've always been interested in narrative, in storytelling. How can I tell if the stories or the meanings are ringing true? If someone pays good money for a painting, the investment indicates that they have gotten it - or something close to it. They are also investing their lives in it; they are going to look at the painting for a long, long time. That is the biggest deal for me - that someone would want to do that with my work. It is an important validation.

The sentiment of this painting here addresses a lot of what is said above. The funny thing is, the initial impetus for this was to not only attempt a new figurative work as a test (hence the scale), but it was also a reflection of someone else's artistic and personal journey. She faces difficult choices, as well. It was only in the midst of painting this that I realized I was in the same boat, albeit in a different career phase. It's a fairly universal sentiment, now that I think upon it, and I think the prospective buyers saw this.

Well, the test succeeded on a pictorial level, I feel, but the dreams themselves ares still being deciphered.

Meanwhile, I have to take better pictures of the latest landscape that sits happy and finished in the studio. I shall post those shots this weekend.


Martha Miller said...

hi rob

have you seen the work of thomas cornell? and lincoln perry? their allegorical paintings might be worth a look see. lots a figures in landscapes...
follow your heart!!!

Susanne Iles said...

Breathtaking art, just beautiful!
Thank you for being an inspiration and giving voice to the inner world of the artist.

You are welcome to my own studio, anytime here on the Beara Peninsula. Your roots extend far beyond the place you radiates from your artwork. If you are ever in Ireland, stop in for a tea.

Rob S. said...

Martha, my brain talks over my heart a lot - so I'm not sure what I'm listening to sometimes. Thanks for pointing out those two fabulous artists! I'm particularly taken with Perry. Such compelling narrative!

Susanne, your compliments are too kind, and I thank you sincerely. You are right, too - my true self, roots and all, are there in my work. I think my latest landscape shows this quite well. And please know that the Beara is where I will be when I come to Ireland. Your invitation is most appreciated, and you should expect me for tea in the not too distant future.

Martha Miller said...

don't forget that the brain has 2 sides! one student in my life drawing class last year was a young lawyer and he would come to class all in knots practically pleading with us to help him to get out of his left
your work has such strong emotion - it's very Romantic - i think that your heart is managing to get equal time along with that busy brain!