Fighting the after-show blues

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Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Megan Moore of Missoula, Montana, USA, wrote, “A show of my portraits began recently at the local museum. On the first day darkness peered into my heart and has since grown larger, looming in the form of, ‘I never want to paint again.’ While it’s true that I’m no stranger to darkness, this feels unusually palpable and viscerally painful.”

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“The Gateless Gate”
oil painting 84 x 33 inches
by Megan Moore

“My show had no opening event. I wonder if this has anything to do with my deep sadness. Perhaps openings give the artist a reality check, witnessing others’ responses to one’s work? I have had a few comments from people close to me, but otherwise, silence. Sadly, silence leaves room for shame and doubt. What are your thoughts at moments like this?”

Thanks, Megan. First, let me say I think your work is sensitive and genuine — in short, terrific. We’ve taken the liberty to put some of them in and at the bottom of this letter.

It might be valuable for you to know that there are some artists who’d rather have a root canal than attend their own show. People actually get sick or arrange to be on a slow boat to Antarctica.

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Untitled
oil painting 36 x 30 inches
by Megan Moore

Making the sudden switch from frenzied creativity to human engagement can be a shock to delicate sensibilities. Also, at public openings, the perfume of artificiality may be heavy in the air. You may begin to believe you’re greater than you are — or, for that matter, lesser than you ever thought possible.

A couple of years ago I had a month-long museum show. There was a big opening. I said a few words. Afterwards I didn’t go back. People didn’t say much. Most critics were on holidays. We had a nice guest book where folks wrote mostly nice things. I’ve lost the book now, but I do remember a couple of comments: “I like your paintings. Where do you get your paint?” and “Your work is old fashioned. . . but good.”

It seems to me that shows are the least exciting of all art adventures. Especially museum shows. At least with commercial exhibitions the work dwindles down and goes out the door. At commercial shows one feels the joy of old and new friendships — from both the gallery angels and the folks who take the trouble to come. Whether you deserve it or not, people are on deck to wish you well.

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Untitled
oil painting 36 x 30 inches
by Megan Moore

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “To have all your work and to have them along the wall, it’s like walking in with no clothes on. It’s terrible.” (Andrew Wyeth)

Esoterica: Shows are a function of our innate need for approval. They have little to do with the daily joy of study and work. They can actually interfere with an artist’s individualism and creative progress, particularly for the sensitive and youthful. Long ago, Sir Joshua Reynolds noted, “The Royal Academy exhibitions have a mischievous tendency, by seducing the painter to an ambition of pleasing indiscriminately the mixed multitude of people who resort to them.” For the same reason Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres thought shows should be abolished. Both failed to say that shows of some sort were then, are now, and will ever be, part of our game.

Megan Moore

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Untitled
oil painting
34 x 21 inches

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“Tom”
oil painting
15 x 21 inches

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“Esther and Elisha”
oil painting
16 x 20 inches

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“10021”
oil painting
46 x 56 inches

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“Mayor John Engen”
oil painting
24 x 72 inches

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“Glacier”
oil painting
24 x 72 inches

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“Eve and Lorraine”
oil painting
72 x 24 inches

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“Untitled #2”
oil painting
72 x 24 inches

Part of the livelihood game
by Greg Freedman, New Westminster, BC, Canada

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“Shortening Up”
acrylic painting
by Greg Freedman

If I could arrange it so I never had to attend another opening I would do so in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, it is part of the commercial game we are called upon to play if we want to exhibit in galleries and benefit from the exposure they can provide. I participated in another opening last Wednesday. It was the grand opening of Vancouver’s new Becker Gallery and it was packed. You couldn’t turn around in the place much less see what was on the walls. There was the usual and sometimes fatuous comments from the gallery crowd and the more meaningful conversations with other artists and thoughtful collectors but it was still torture to be there. I comfort myself at these events by affirming that the people who should see my work tonight will see my work and something good will come of this misery. It helps me make it through the night.



There are 2 comments for Part of the livelihood game by Greg Freedman

From: Liz Schamehorn, Canada — Feb 09, 2010

Poor Greg! Your opening was packed with eager people who were excited by an art exhibition! Guess what: openings aren’t for the artist’s entertainment. Affecting the persona of the scornful artist who places himself above the buying public is somewhat self-sabotaging.

From: Mary Bullock — Feb 09, 2010

Whew Liz! Lighten up – I don’t think Greg was saying that at all.

I think he was just recording how he feels inside, in a crowd. It can be very scary if you are an introspective artist – what do you say? who do you talk to? what if I say the wrong thing? etc.

Two abilities required
by Jakki Kouffman, Santa Fe, NM, USA

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“High Desert, Cool Shade”
original painting by Jakki Kouffman

The splendid paintings in this series by Megan Moore are the clear result of a serious focus on craft and a deep sensitivity to the power of heads and figures to articulate universal truths. Kudos to the artist! It is important to note, however, that the ability to show paintings in public, like the ability to make paintings in the solitude of the studio, evolves slowly over time. As with any specialized skill, the practitioner needs to set realistic goals in order to feel successful. Opening receptions do serve a purpose, but in the absence of one, the artist necessarily needs to step back and reflect on the results herself, just as one would a new painting at the easel.

More accessibility needed in paintings
by Pearl Gatehouse, Malvern, UK

Megan’s paintings look good quality and very individual — I hesitate to use the word ‘original’ as we are all influenced. Maybe there is a problem in communication though. It might help to help the viewer into her thoughts, and make the paintings more ‘accessible’ by using a clue… in the title? They are good paintings but I feel unable to understand the personality behind the image. In fact I am not sure if I want to… There is a lot more to portrait painting — we have to want to know more in the first instance, and then have the means to investigate. Tricky!!



There is 1 comment for More accessibility needed in paintings by Pearl Gatehouse

From: Karen Martin Sampson — Feb 10, 2010

In a show of portraits that I am pleased to be part of (seven artists in the show) on currently at the Campbell River Art Gallery, called “Telling Stories”, we were asked to write statements about each painting (we each have four on exhibit), to explain what the “story” is about this portrait and why we

felt complelled to paint this subject. Each of us had to submit as one of the four pieces, a self portrait, which, indeed, brought home the importance and difficulty of telling our own story…as you say, Pearl,

“there is a lot more to portrait painting.”

Adrenalin drain from shows
by Fred Hulser, Houston, TX, USA

In a former life, much passion and activity was focused on an intense period of activity called a “closing.” After a closing, I felt the draining, blues sensation described in “After-Show Blues.” For an artist, the Opening can be similar to the Closing — it is the culmination of an intense period of activity coupled with anticipated but uncertain outcome. This leads, in my theory, to greatly increased amounts of adrenaline so, whatever the outcome — sales, no sales, closing, no closing — the end results in a shutdown of the adrenaline. In short, after show blues is a consequence of adrenaline withdrawal. I’d be interested in the comment of the medical/artists in your database to this theory.



There is 1 comment for Adrenalin drain from shows by Fred Hulser

From: Mary Bullock — Feb 09, 2010

Fred – it sounds like a viable theory to me.

Free print brought them in
by Loretta West, Spokane, WA, USA

I think we can all relate to Megan’s plight. It’s a rollercoaster ride and some times of epic proportions. I had a small show last week and it was glitchy beyond belief, but I persevered through it all. Most times, I think that root canal might be preferable. However, I did something different this time, which has helped lift my post show spirits. It may sound cheesy but I offered a print on a free drawing in a way to get people’s email addresses. I found that nowadays people are so very reluctant to sign guest books, perhaps over privacy issues. Anyway, it drew people in to where I was so that I could talk to them and tell them about my work. So instead of the usual post show doldrums I found just about every one of the entries’ names on Facebook and sent them a note, in return I got encouraging comments back and that helped to lift my spirits. The drawing may not be allowed in a museum setting, but museums are in the same boat as everyone else these days, (having worked at one, I know) and are looking for ways to get people in the door so you never know unless you ask.



There is 1 comment for Free print brought them in by Loretta West

From: Mary Bullock — Feb 09, 2010

Great idea, Loretta! I, too, have used the enticement of a free print with a sign up sheet. That way you have their permission to contact them again – something you might not get otherwise.

Get yourself a mission
by Taylor Ikin, Tampa Bay, FL, USA

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“After the Storm Fallen Tree”
original painting by Taylor Ikin

I paint the fragile environment of Florida and I select locations relating to the necessity for preservation. Not all painters have a mission, but if you do, and if you contact the press, museums and national publications and tell your story — eventually someone will pick it up. Instead of having a quiet show of current paintings, you create a buzz and an invite to share your thoughts, verbally as well as visually. An opening, when possible, gives you a chance to raise the flag and ask for a cheer!

Painful human realities
by Deborah Barnett

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Untitled
original painting
by Deborah Barnett

To me, your work tells a difficult set of truths, representing hard times and the wear and tear on us humans that life can exact. Those who suffer are not bad, wrong or to blame, but they are hard to look at while we forge ahead thinking positive thoughts to take on the next day, the next challenge, the next round of personal work.

I keep realizing again that few people will thank you for showing painful human realities. They are too accurate, too much like the fears we all have scurrying around inside our bellies. But like the blues, being near this art tells the viewer that she is not alone in her fears and torment, in her/our dark places and as such is the gift you give.



There is 1 comment for Painful human realities by Deborah Barnett

From: Mary Bullock — Feb 09, 2010

Very well said, Deb. And I love your painting!

Grad show goes flat
by Kevin Combes, Virginia Beach, VA, USA

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“Carolyne”
oil painting
by Kevin Combes

Boy, reading this really struck a chord with me. I had a similar experience to Megan Moore’s last year. Being new to this game (business), I was about to graduate from university and so was holding my Senior Show, a graduation requirement for my Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. Hardly anyone showed up for the reception. This was real discouraging for my expected “big splash” in the art world, although one of my paintings did sell. In retrospect, I did a lousy job of advertising and promoting the show, so it was a lesson learned. I take heart from your approach towards making a living as an artist: just keep painting and working to improve and the money will follow.

Intermittent fallow periods
by Shawn Dahlstrom, East Dennis, MA, USA

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Untitled
original painting
by Shawn Dahlstrom

My work was recently exhibited at the Cape Cod Museum of Art. When the curator contacted me a year and a half ahead of time, I decided to create site specific work for this gallery. It was a particularly busy time in my life with additional family obligations and I soldiered on midst the chaos of my life. I also did not have an opening/reception. I also experienced a letdown, feeling drained.

It is six months later with intermittent painting. Like a well-tended farm where a field is allowed a fallow period, my fallow time has restored my creative energies. There are still delays before I can return to my studio full-time and I can’t wait. What has been important was allowing myself that quiet time, to honor the need for rejuvenation.

Take time to recharge
by Barbara Lussier, Putnam, CT, USA

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“Autumn Asters”
original painting
by Barbara Lussier

I recently had four shows in a row at various locales, including an open studio event. Even though they were very successful and well attended, I became almost hermetic and despondent after all was said and done. It may be a reaction to the incredible amount of energy required to finish the work, do the promotion, frame, frame, hang, wait… and smile… and hope. Even when all these components went right, that amount of energy and emotion seemed to leave me deflated. After a bit I was able to get back to focusing on the internal conversation about the act of painting. Our work requires solitude and the exhibition stuff is not a natural state. So, Megan, take some time and recharge.



There are 2 comments for Take time to recharge by Barbara Lussier

From: Nancy — Feb 09, 2010

I agree…after ANY huge outpouring of energy, all that working, plotting, planning and hoping, there is bound to be a “let down” period! Knowing it will happen, and that it too will pass, is reassuring.

From: Sarah — Feb 09, 2010

As a professional fundraiser I often had to play the major role organizing special events at museums, universities, and opera companies. These required hours and hours of planning, calling, arranging, overseeing, etc., and after the event was over I felt the same way that so many artists feel after their shows. I used to call the inevitable letdown “post partum depression.” The good thing is that the letdown is short-lived.

Do something else
by Jeffrey Hessing, Nice, France

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“Absalom’s Tomb”
original painting
by Jeffrey Hessing

It’s time for tough love. First of all anyone who can stop painting should. Stop being such a baby. Stop whining. Before you go to bed each day and every morning before you start your day count your blessings and give thanks. Make a list and say it out loud while looking in the mirror.

I am so lucky to be a painter.

I am fortunate to be able to express myself and share that expression with others.

I am grateful to have an exhibition in a museum.

I am grateful to live out my passion in life.

I am really good at what I do.

And so on.

Megan’s work is strong and solid. There are so many artists who would be thrilled to have a museum show. My advice to her is stop complaining or step aside and do something that you find more fulfilling.



There are 7 comments for Do something else by Jeffrey Hessing

From: Anonymous — Feb 09, 2010

Excellent advice Jeffrey. Your work continues to excite. I met you while working at Cygnet Gallery(Jen Savedra) in Yorkville many years ago at a wonderfully successful opening.

From: Mary Bullock — Feb 09, 2010

Jeffrey – I understand what you are saying and it is good advice to count your blessings- but really, I wish everyone would be gentle with Megan. What she was feeling is perfectly normal and just about every one has similar feelings after a show. Love your painting.

From: Anonymous — Feb 09, 2010

I can really get with your feelings after a burst of work, and the public showing. You have probably helped others to identify some of their body-chemical aftermath of painting a body of work.

Eek Jeffrey, I think tough love without empathy is hard to digest, and can give stomach cramps.

From: Dayle Ann Stratton — Feb 09, 2010

“Tough love” is appropriate only with someone you know and care about and only in private. Jeffrey, what you are passing off as tough love simply sounds patronizing and demeaning. I agree with both Mary and Anonymous2. Megan’s paintings are remarkable: full of compassion and insight as well as artistically skillful. No wonder she feels worn down. As others have noted, it is a normal experience, and I am glad that others have reassured her of that. I also need that reminder when I run out of juice.

From: Anonymous — Feb 10, 2010

Excellent Jeffrey. Thanks for stopping the propagation of art is personal. We are tradesmen like all the others. We produce and market a product. A product we love and like to produce. Yes it may be personal in that we like doing i but it is still in the end a productt. Period. It is no different than a cabinet maker making a beautiful chair. I just hung a show. When it was hung I went back to my studio, picked up a brush and went back to producing a product. No let down, no introspection, no malaise, only the production of more art.

From: Mary Carnahan — Feb 10, 2010

“It is still in the end a product. Period.” Well, that’s true of my commercial art. I make a living drawing complicated infographics for proposals. I am good, and perfectly confident about it. Generally they are received wonderfully, but if not, fine! Once in a while I create a visual beauty that doesn’t address what the proposal writer needs to portray, so out it goes. I have no problem with that – minimal attachment, other than my love of my craft and my ongoing quest to do it as well as it can be done.

I have more emotional investment in a painting than in a graphic. And it’s easy to observe others at their shows, but perhaps not so easy to stand with your art at your own show. I think painting should be an endeavor in which you reach deep into yourself, so that would explain feeling more vulnerable when displaying the results. I will have three paintings in a local juried show soon. I have no idea how they will go over. I’m just at the start of exhibiting, so this is more “developing a habit” than it is a referendum of my painting ability. I’ll just have to gut up and engage, try not to be attached to outcomes, and ready for some letdown, and try not to take it too seriously. Being mindfully thankful as you say should be really helpful.

From: Win Dixon — Feb 10, 2010

Nice painting. Puts me in mind of later Wayne Theibaud.

Get back in the studio
by Skip Rohde, Asheville, NC, USA

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“North Wing of the Palace”
watercolour painting
by Skip Rohde

Megan’s feelings of depression following the start of her show are normal. A show is a culmination of a period of hard work. We paint feverishly toward a deadline, prepare artist statements and bios, send out cards and invitations, and orient our professional lives around a specific date on a calendar. Then, suddenly, it’s over. The mission that has been driving our lives for months is done. The blues that Megan describes may be a sense of loss or mourning. It’s a feeling of “now what?” I’ve found that a show often marks the termination of a particular line of thought and that I need a period of time to find a new one to explore. The only way to do that is to get back in the studio and flail around for a bit until something starts happening.

Speaking of which, in just a few more months, I will finish my job here in Baghdad and return to my studio. I can’t wait to start flailing around again!



There is 1 comment for Get back in the studio by Skip Rohde

From: Dayle Ann Stratton — Feb 09, 2010

Very insightful, Skip. Thank you. Your comment about transition hit home for me. Don’t know what your “job in Bhagdad” involves, but sending thoughts for a safe return to your studio.

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World of Art Featured artist Mohammad Ali Bhatti,  

020510_mohammed-artwork

Tharee Woman with Charkha

oil painting by
Mohammad Ali Bhatti

You may be interested to know that artists from every state in the USA, every province in Canada, and at least 115 countries worldwide have visited these pages since January 1, 2013.

That includes Syra Larkin who wrote, “The best bit is walking into the gallery on the opening night to see your work not stacked against a studio wall but finally hanging on a well lit gallery wall.”

And also Michele Hausman of Soquel, CA, USA, who wrote, “I always feel a lull after an exhibition… I think it’s adrenaline depletion.”

And also JoRene Newton of Georgetown, TX, USA, who wrote, “Although it isn’t the easiest thing to do we need to put ourselves out there so “our talent isn’t hidden under a basket!”

And also Virginia Urani of Hayesville, NC, USA, who wrote, “I simply want to learn to paint better, to see better, to be able to know why some of my paintings “work” and others don’t and to be able with some confidence to know what I’m doing.”

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Fighting the after-show blues

 

 

From: Anonymous — Feb 04, 2010

With so much substandard art masquerading as “important” in public galleries, I’m not sure serious, quality-driven painters need public galleries at all. Many of my collectors never attend public galleries at all, nor do they know where they are located.

From: another anonymous — Feb 04, 2010

Speaking of galleries, these days unrepresented artists have to watch out for telephone pitchwomen trying to sell expensive wall space ($2000 to $5000 a crack) along with pale advertising, dvd’s, etc., in such venues as the San Francisco Art Fair.

From: Nikolas Allen — Feb 04, 2010

While I experience the occasional bout of self-doubt, like all artists, I truly love exhibiting my work (selectively). Shows are a great opportunity to engage your audience, mingle, network, have fun and, hopefully, make sales.

I believe the key is this: Know your objective. What are you after? Sales, representation, acceptance, approval? Artists need to enter the game with a certain level of confidence. Criticism (or silence) is part of the game. Get used to it. If your ego can’t handle rejection, that’s all the more reason to subject yourself to it – to build up a tolerance for Life, which will pummel you at every opportunity.

I’ve had exciting debates with viewers who have enjoyed my work, and thrilling debates with those who have not. Create, share, engage, connect. Don’t let the fear of failure, rejection – or even commercial success – inhibit you from exhibiting your unique gifts of expression to the world.

From: penelope rothfield — Feb 04, 2010

I was struck while looking at your interesting paintings by the sadness, fatigue and pain present in your portrayals of women. Are these self-portraits? I also wonder at the verticality of some of your portraits — some of which do not contain the entire figure so it can’t be that you are trying to fit a figure into a specific corresponding space…it is just something i wonder about. I really like the portrait of the women on the sofa — the point of view is great — and it seems kind of ironic — the sense of looking up at the figure who is (it seems) exhausted. I hope that your next exhibition is a better experience — silence can be very unnerving! I have never shown my work outside of the classroom so I can’t speak from my own experience, but i do not that sometimes when i have had what i consider to be a really successful day of painting that I feel a little ‘down’ after stopping. This has happened to me many times…i don’t really understand it. In any case — keep painting!

From: Faith — Feb 05, 2010

Compliments on the comments so far. I hope Megan takes comfort from them. I don’t consider myself a professsional, but I do exhibit paintings now and again. The current show is in the cardiology department of a big hospital. Patients – some of them seriously ill – come and go through those corridors and are cheered by the eccentricities, or colours, or scurrilous little creatures that abound on my canvases. I don’t get much feedback – don’t expect it – my success is having them hanging there! Megan’s paintings are of course autobiographical. Even if we paint a landscape or a flower, and certainly in abstract works, we are lurking in/out there somewhere, with all our energy, emotion etc. So what is on the canvas will – if it isn’t pseudo (and who can really judge that in modern works that show hardly any skill apart from marketing expertise?) – reflect the creator.

My advice to Megan would be to take each painting and write something in the first person about the content (what she sees!). Words can heal. Find out what was “going on” in you when you made the work. It’s a great exercise and you can use the texts at your next show. It may be a kind of emotional striptease, but as a artist you’re doing that anyway!

From: Rene Wojcik — Feb 05, 2010

From what I see your work is excellent. You have shown such emotion. Such pain. Whether we are artists or patrons of the arts I think the thing that draws most people is what comes from the artists heart. You have done that and more. Now that you have shown your work you have begun a new journey and it can be a lonely one. But it can open doors and show the world what you can do. Keep up your work and don’t dwell on the past but look forward to the future. Do what you love and people will follow you and hopefully purchase your work; if they have not done so by now.

From: Jane E Porter — Feb 05, 2010

Hi Megan

Firstly I want to say that I think your work is fantastic. I had a really good look around your website and was immediately impressed. I’m always look for new way to depict the figure and I think you have really captured that. I think it’s a shame you didn’t have an opening event but I too fill up with the self doubt just before a show. I then get the blues after an exhibition, partly the anti climax or it can be that people i really wanted to come didn’t or that I didn’t make as many sales as I’d hoped so therefore I am a failure. Fortunately these feelings don’t last long. I rationalise the whole thing and then get back in my studio and the sun begins to shine again. I think exhibiting is like standing in a main street naked but I do enjoy the exciting, edginess of it and meeting people who want to talk to me about my work. The public will never really know what goes into making our work so I think we feel disappointed when they are so indifferent and make a judgement so quickly. This, I believe, is due to their lack of experience and not knowing that looking and feeling a piece of art takes time and thought. I’m rambling but I just wanted to comment because I really enjoyed looking at it. All the best, Janee

From: Nancy C Marshall — Feb 05, 2010

I Love showing! It gives me an opportunity to schmooze with people who are interested in art – to get their perspectives on my work, and yes, it gives my ego a little boost. Whether or not they are there to purchase a painting, I am always grateful for the turn out. I think showing validates one’s art. We cannot create in a vacuum, and this gives us the chance to show the world why we paint.

From: Susan Downing-White — Feb 05, 2010

Dear Megan, I’m familiar with the feelings you describe after a show has opened, but hope you will not take silence of others personally (or most other human reactions for that matter–it’s rarely about us). Perhaps they felt the emotion you expressed so well and did not know what to say. I often feel that way myself. The better the work, the less words seem appropriate! I’m so glad Robert posted some of your sensitive, beautiful portraits. I admire your restraint and fine coloring — do you see that while this may be my highest praise, it is not enough? Hang in there — spring is just around the corner.

From: Susan Avishai, Toronto — Feb 05, 2010

Megan — your work is truly fabulous. I love how each portrait is handled uniquely using composition as a narrative element. After my last show ended without sales, my gallery owner said to me “silk is silk, even if the people think it’s corn.” Then, a couple of months after the show was down, people started remembering and buying. Go figure. It’s so hard not to be discouraged and think only about who *didn’t* come, but you owe it to your great eye to continue onwards and to be the ultimate judge of your own work.

From: Dorenda Crager Watson — Feb 05, 2010

I adore the process of planning and creating the works…and I love the process of arranging an exhibition (paperwork and all!) However, actually attending the opening reception used to be emotional chaos for me. I could never really get a good feel on the honesty of the folks attending, although I did greatly appreciate that they came. I think it becomes less painful when you make up your mind that it truly doesn’t matter what others think…it only matters that you painted the piece. In my humble opinion (and it shouldn’t matter, remember? :) your work is very thoughtful and thought-provoking.

From: Megan Moore — Feb 05, 2010

I’m not able to find an exclamation that would sufficiently express how touched and supported and SEEN I feel due to this exchange you and I have had! Your thoughts offered me humor and commiseration and encouragement. And it triggered a massive number of PASSIONATE and supportive emails into my inbox.

I do realize the truth is that my relationship to painting is in the end about me and my paintbrush. I do get this. AND painting is also a way to connect with the world, to speak the unspeakable and ideally this doesn’t happen in a vacuum! So getting all the responses sent directly from your letter to megan@meganmoore.net is like a sacred or anointing oil to what feels like my ravaged self.

From: Karen Watland — Feb 05, 2010

Megan, I enjoy looking at your work and I am particularly drawn to Salmon River. I just keep wanting to look at it and love everything about it. Some things I do to help myself not get down about anything I do is to stop having expectations.

Having expectations in any venture that are dashed can be devastating. I try to have no or low expectations when I show. I am happy if someone just looks at my paintings. Please don’t stop sharing your work, it is wonderful!

From: Ping — Feb 05, 2010

Great job. Reminds me a lot of Froyd and Bacon. The public may be puzzled by so many strong works. Each painting screems very loud. We artists love it but laymen may not be prepared for that.

From: Yvonne Maximchuk — Feb 05, 2010

Exhibitions are important because they require the artist to “throw their hat over the fence”, i.e. make a commitment to engage in the act of creating the art. It is much healthier for the artist to disengage from expectations of positive feedback or to be brought down by negative feedback. Try this as a mantra…”Do you love it, do you hate it, there it is the way I made it. Just keep making art and try not to be too self-indulgent.

From: Jackie Knott — Feb 06, 2010

Megan, you paint with deep emotion and with obvious vulnerability, probably a bit on the sober side. That takes great courage. Leaving yourself so open may be the root of your let down. There is honesty in your paintings.

A post-show holiday may be in order to rejuvenate. Abandon your studio for a week or so and come back refreshed.

From: Jamie Erfurdt — Feb 06, 2010

From a creative perspective, I was much happier in the days when I hadn’t shown my art, from when I first started drawing and painting in the late 1960’s, when I was still a child, until just prior to my BFA graduation show in 1982. I’d had a few pieces a in a few other shows, but didn’t think much about showing, or care to.

The process of painting was what mattered.

I did sink into a depression after that first 2 person show and to some extent never recovered, though I have had many creative periods since. I feel that I rarely hit that same stride again where I was painting so passionately that little else mattered, or when I did, it didn’t go on endlessly for months.

Since late 2008 I’ve been running a small independent art gallery in Berkeley, CA. It has felt like the right thing to do at this time in my life. Paintings have found new homes (those prolific periods have amassed a huge body of work I need to house somewhere), new friends have been made, the weekly jam sessions and poetry readings have enriched people’s lives. But I’m not doing more painting or other art forms, though hanging the space, designing the invitations, etc. is its own compositional work.

Sometimes I’d rather just let someone else do it, all the business side of it, or not do it at all.

I don’t agree with Andrew Wyeth-I love to see my work up, it cheers me up, and some say it cheers them up, also.

From: Edie Pfeifer — Feb 06, 2010

I have to wonder if Megan did any self promotion for this event? She must have known in advance there would be no opening reception. If the show is still to be up for a while, she should send out an email announcement to all her collectors, friends and relatives. If she has a mailing list, a flyer with all basic info can be sent. Did she send out a press release packet to all local newspapers? This is a must. Showing in a museum is a big deal, even if it is only small and local. She should be excited for this opportunity, not crying the blues.

From: Jeri Fellwock — Feb 06, 2010

Megan has nothing to worry about! Her paintings are wonderful.

From: Celeste Varley — Feb 06, 2010

Megan, I love your work and would really have enjoyed seeing it in person. Anyone who paints the human form this uniquely and with such sensitivity needs to be appreciated. I hope you feel your own private satisfaction with each one, and don’t have to depend on the whims of arbitrary public viewers.

From: Bob Ragland — Feb 06, 2010

I once had an exhibition in Cleveland Ohio, no press releases or invitations were sent out. I had flown in from Denver to attend the show.

When I found out that no press was done etc., I called the paper myself ,got an appointment to see a reporter. I was smart enough to take an example of my work with me, I was interviewed and got a photo story in the paper.

I learned over the years to take charge of my own PR, I haven’t stopped being my own press agent.

Modesty leads to oblivion.

From: Robin Baratta — Feb 06, 2010

Meghan your work is amazing. The dark whispers are telling you terrible lies. I too fall prey to the dark, and I find that time following the ‘frantic’ preparation for a show to be one of the most dangerous.

For me it’s akin to the after Christmas let down, you’ve tried so hard to make everything perfect for the big day and then… it’s over. Did they appreciate the gifts you gave, the feast, the decorations, the labour of love? Sure they say thank-you, but do they really mean it, or is that just good manners?

Thankfully I’ve learned that the best response to the mummers, is to get right back into my studio routine, and to stay in contact with supportive artist friends. I’ve also learned that talking out loud to my mental darkness, and telling it to buzz off, helps a lot. If you don’t already have a mantra develop one and repeat it (out loud) often. We live so much in our heads, we need the power of the verbal to break the dark. It sounds a bit crazy, but it works.

From: Margaret Rooker — Feb 06, 2010

Thanks for putting Megan Moore’s work on your clickback. I like her work very much! Honest vision, gripping! I also admired your comments, too. I hope she is one who will continue to overcome the demons all artists face!

From: Karla Pearce — Feb 06, 2010

I understand the need to hide at openings. I hate attending my own events and have been guilty of ” being sick” for them. Now that I have my own gallery it is unavoidable. I hide behind the bar in the roll of bartender and watch the events unfold like a spectator. The access to wine doesn’t hurt either….

From: Alex Nodopaka — Feb 06, 2010

Have no fears. Your clickback show by Robert Genn gave you a large and unexpected exposure that you did not hope for.

From: Kathryn Clark — Feb 06, 2010

I agree that your figures are a sensitive and emotional personal response from you about life. I especially love the Salmon River painting of the old men in the water!! The composition, the figures and the painting quality really speak to me. It is compelling, and I want to go see it again and again.

From: Pat Texidor — Feb 06, 2010

Dear Megan,

This is the first comment I have submitted to Mr. Genn’s letters. I typically limit expressing my opinions out of a concern for the loss of impact of the words the moment I utter/write them. In this case, however, I am willing to risk that. The use of space in some of your work was particularly striking. I have experimented with a similar approach, but have not fully exploited it. As I read your comments and felt the alienation you were expressing, I could not help but see the connection to the use of the broad expanses of space isolating the figures in some of your work. Additionally, I noticed that you are situated in Montana, where wide expanses are characteristic of the landscape there. It is also cold and foreboding in the dead of winter there I suspect. For good and bad, these factors impact people in your area, and you are capturing some of that. Place plays an important role in our lives. I never realized that fully until later in my life. You are a gifted painter. Your work is not only technically sound, but full of potential meaning for viewers who are tuned into what they see. I admire your efforts. Do not succumb to the negative effects of the melancholia that is also the power behind your art.

Sincerely,

Pat

From: Doris E. Weed — Feb 06, 2010

Megan..what a gift! Your work is truly thought provoking. I love the format of all the work, exceptional and quite off the wall which I suppose some (non artists) can’t appreciate. Do you work from imagination or use models? Do keep up with your painting. Have had some pretty funny gallery openings myself, but they are learning experiences and the more wine served the better, in fact have one before you go to your own show!!! Cheers!!

From: Sharon Cory — Feb 06, 2010

I love these paintings…they’re raw, that undertone of red on flesh is like a slaughterhouse floor. I can certainly empathize with Megan’s fear that the silence greeting her means that her work is no good. In this case I think people just wouldn’t know what to say in the face of this pain. Hopefully she’ll hear from hundreds as to their brilliance and feel better about them.

From: Gena Lacoste — Feb 06, 2010

Megan, like Robert says, your work is terrific. Carry on!! And thanks for the warning. I have a show coming up @ our local “National Gallery” and I appreciate the warning.

After the commercial gallery shows I’ve had I noticed that I felt pretty flat for awhile afterwards. The solution was to paint anyway. And I now try and look at it as an opportunity to increase my notariety. Thanks Robert for your wonderul newsletters whcih help us to stay connected and support each other.

From: Antoinette Ledzian — Feb 06, 2010

Is there a reason the museum did “not” have an opening?

I can’t get beyond that question.

Rather than guess or hypothesize, can you elaborate?

I’ve never heard of an exhibit without an opening.

This entire situation is extremely sensitive, at best, from the outpouring of the artist to the sadness portrayed so deeply in the paintings. It seems to me this series is open to much further discussion! Perhaps the seeds need to settle in before sprouting.

In Joy and appreciation for all you bring to our world, Robert. You are a master of diplomacy.

From: Jim Poch — Feb 06, 2010

I am still fighting the after-show blues from my one month long show in November 2009! I took the year off and produced 35 new works of art. I had some exposure from the local papers and the comments in my guest book were all positive. But no sales!

There were some comments about my prices being too high, but other than that and the current economy the original high that I created during the build up to the show is gone! I have not picked up a brush since.

From: Lynda Kelly — Feb 06, 2010

I was very touched by Megan’s letter and felt compelled to send her a letter of support. Aren’t we humans cruel to ourselves, when we choose to think the worst and interpret silence as a negative, even when we are not there to hear the many positive comments that could have been made! Her work is stunning and her use of the vertical brilliant!

From: Pat Morgan — Feb 06, 2010

Hello Robert, don’t think I would go the root canal way but for me the openings are just one big party. And I’m not a party gal anyway. Seriously, while it is lovely to hear friends and family make nice comments about our work, this is not WHY we paint. So for me, the openings just create more stress. I’m just happy to have my paintings up so people can simply enjoy them – and if I get a sale or two that’s love as well.

I’m new to the letters and must tell you I enjoy them so much.

From: Cea Blyth — Feb 06, 2010

It is so helpful so read how other artists get nervous exhibiting, very helpful to know I am not alone!

Something else I struggle with is the question .. Is it really ok for me to earn a living as a an artist? I must have a deep-seated work ethic in me who feels I should have a day job and just do art as a hobby. However I have delicate health which means I have a lot of sensitivities and allergic reactions so I have to rest a lot otherwise my health worsens. So I do a small manageable amount of art work every day, a few years ago starting to paint with my feet due to co-ordination problems. I have a suspicion that the ‘should’ voice is what makes me unwell, I am using NLP techniques to try to change the way I talk to myself..

From: Niall Thompson Donnington — Feb 06, 2010

If you think this letter is good, you should read all of Robert’s over the last ten years. My hard copy arrived on Thursday and there is a wealth in it. Beautiful. Thanks Robert.

From: Deon Flugum — Feb 07, 2010

Hang in there friend. Your thoughts are the ones that go along with showing ones work. I haven’t painted now for a long time and I really don’t miss it at all. . i still have my paints so I can paint again when I feel like it. The instructor I had when we were still going to Texas in the winter told me that I had finally gottten the knowhow to paint. I looked at my picture and could see what he meant too. I have several paintings hanging around our home which I enjoy. Well I better scoot —My breakfast dishes are calling me to put them in the dishwasher.

From: Corrie Scott — Feb 07, 2010

The artist’s version of stage fright.

I feel as if I am hanging myself on a meat hook on the walls in little pieces throughout the gallery for people to prod, poke, disseminate, love, ignore and talk about me as if I was not there. It is my life on the walls. What I love to do. But I also realize what I love to do may not be accepted or liked by others.

From: Marjorie Tressler — Feb 07, 2010

it is very sad Megan feels this way. I know, silence is hard to take. The museum not having any opening is shameful of both the museum and its volunteers for not honoring her and her work. If her work is good enough to have a museum show then a reception is definitely warranted. She will in time come to realize this will be a good thing to have had her Museum show, it will serve her well, and will be a very good addition to her resume. I too have been overlooked when I have had shows and it hurts not to have that small time in the sun. But Megan you will survive. Your work speaks for itself and you are going to go well beyond this show, keep painting, and always remember to “paint from your heart with Joy!”

From: Kathleen Crane — Feb 07, 2010

in the end all artists want recognition for their work. We gain a certain satisfaction from doing the work well, but art is a visual medium and is meant to be seen. No reaction at all is the most difficult to handle.

From: Janet Badger — Feb 07, 2010

I currently have 17 works of my art up in a very fine-looking exhibition (The Great Cranberry Island Portrait Project) along with the stories gleaned from interviews with our subjects, written by my project partner, journalist Rebecca Buyers-Basso. Bar Harbor, Maine right now is pretty darn cold, and our opening reception was postponed, though Becky and I were upstairs to welcome whoever braved the snow. We took the two people who did come (one of our subjects and his wife, who had come on the ferry from the Island!!) home to Becky’s for dinner, a lovely evening, an opening to remember.

But in the end, having your work up on the wall can tell you so much, just you, the artist. Seeing a body of work framed properly, hung as it should be, in a space that enhances the experience, is what we all dream of. It lets us see ourselves/our art through different eyes. So whether the general populace files past it or not (and everybody’s got an opinion), don’t miss the opportunity to look and learn about yourself and your art.

Bangor, ME

From: Lyn — Feb 07, 2010

I understand what you mean and can certainly empathize. The last small show that I participated in also had no opening. I received no feedback and found it more and more difficult to visit the show, until one day some weeks after the opening I received a call from the gallery to tell me that a piece had sold. The relief was palpable.

Malta

From: Penelope Rothfield — Feb 07, 2010

I was struck while looking at your interesting paintings by the sadness, fatigue and pain present in your portrayals of women. Are these self-portraits? I also wonder at the verticality of some of your portraits — some of which do not contain the entire figure so it can’t be that you are trying to fit a figure into a specific corresponding space…it is just something i wonder about. I really like the portrait of the women on the sofa — the point of view is great — and it seems kind of ironic — the sense of looking up at the figure who is (it seems) exhausted. I hope that your next exhibition is a better experience — silence can be very unnerving! I have never shown my work outside of the classroom so I can’t speak from my own experience, but i do know that sometimes when i have had what i consider to be a really successful day of painting that I feel a little ‘down’ after stopping. This has happened to me many times…i don’t really understand it. In any case — keep painting!

Chicago IL

From: kitsune miko kitsunemiko@gmail.com — Feb 07, 2010

I have been a performer and an artist that hangs things on the wall. On stage you either get applause or not. When you hang a show there is no process for completion, birthing or cutting of the cord.

From: Jacobina Trump — Feb 07, 2010

Megan, your work is beautiful. The fact that you have the courage to paint raw feelings as shown in your work is not often done. Especially in America where everyone is encouraged to say “Cheese” all day and hide feelings of loneliness, sadness and sorrow. The fact that you did it, not only in your appearance but even worse in an enlarged way through your paintings makes people uncomfortable. I can see that they don’t know what to say. You are supposed to paint sunsets, happy flowers in a vase and children playing in the sand. I would say, bravo for connecting to all the sad people and daring to express it.

From: Kathleen Sauerbrei — Feb 07, 2010

I really believe that the creative process is what turns us on!

The show while exciting does not have the impact that creating a well painting that pleases us inwardly has.

Oftentimes we expect this feeling to carry on through our shows.

Then we realize that with paintbrush in hand, we are achieving the dreams we wanted. The rest is anticlimactic.

From: Chris Everest — Feb 08, 2010

Your paintings are memorable. There can really be no higher praise. I am reminded of a photograph, a snapshot of myself as a child, in grey school uniform, in National Health glasses, standing in front of a huge wall. Small. Insignificant. That image came back to me as I looked at the spaces left open in your paintings. And into those spaces my imagination moved. Not simply sadness but other feelings. Nostalgia. Happiness. The significance of things that were not memorable in CAPITAL letters but which mean something special.Thank you.

From: Ruth Rodgers — Feb 08, 2010

This letter surprised me, as my own experience is so opposite. I deliberately decide to put on 1-2 solo shows per year, for the following reasons:

* it gets me focused and keeps me painting in the little time I have to devote to it (I still work full time at a non-art career)

* choosing a theme helps me to choose the next painting subject, and the next…

* seeing all the resulting works displayed together gives me a great feeling of satisfaction and closure, and helps me critique my own work

* I enjoy the openings — it’s a social time to see my friends, family, and collectors, and share my joy in painting

* I make sales and publicize my work to a new audience (my shows are often in not-for-profit venues such as libraries)

* I often get new students signing up for my workshops via my shows

* I get more viewings at my website after a show

* the guest book comments can be used for promo materials

So — what’s not to like? For me, painting is a means of expression, of communicating — if no-one ever sees it or responds to it, the circle is incomplete, and I don’t know if my message has been communicated. But for others, painting may fulfill a whole different need, and shows may not meet that need.

From: Tillie Sowders — Feb 08, 2010

No wonder she is experience sadness. Perhaps if she would paint some happy faces, her mood would change. I felt sad viewing her paintings.

From: Darla — Feb 08, 2010

After my last show, I felt very disconnected. The best thing about shows is the honest feedback, but sometimes it makes you feel you have put your soul out for people to see, and no one even notices. I used to go to science fiction conventions, and the larger ones with art shows feature successful artists and writers who do panels and enjoy just talking with the rest of us mortals. Anyone can exhibit in the show, and beginners have panels next to very sophisticated artists. The level of enthusiasm is wonderful, and that is what is often missing from regular art shows. Megan might find more appreciation in joining a local art group, since they have more art expertise and know better than the general public what kind of emotional investment goes into paintings.

From: Rick Rotante — Feb 08, 2010

Whenever an artist exhibits they run the risk of rejection or disapproval. It’s part of the game. If you wish to not be a part of this, don’t show your work. Harsh maybe, but the truth is we all are subject to the same possible riducule. It’s a risk some take with a the thought that some will like your work and some will not. But your not painting to please everyone. If you are you are in for years of misery. The only true judge of your work is you. I know this sounds a cliche, but it’s true. If you paint to please you are setting yourself up for failure from the outset. I say all this as one who has gone down the same road and had to learn to over it or give up painting. Everything I’ve done in my 65 years on this earth has been in public and subject to criticism. I’ve developed a very thick skin because of it. But to be an artist takes a thick skin expecially if you choose to take a risky road and not play it safe. All you can do if you wish to show is put it out and forget the critics. Your reward in the end is you managed to do what others only talk about doing. You presented a body of work that will stand for who you are and the world be damned.

From: Cindy Frostad — Feb 08, 2010

I feel for Megan…showing your artwork can be an incredibly unnerving, fearful experience.

The most poignant, revealing and denuding statement ever made to me was when I allowed several of my close cousins a peek at my never-before seen paintings – the first I’d done in my life. They were not on view in a gallery. In fact, thirty rather large, 54” X 72” canvases, secured by shower curtain hooks to metal rods, hung unceremoniously in my laundry room.

I was frightened. There was no theme, no developed style apparent, the subject matter was all over the map – I’d given myself permission to let the paintings come out whatever way they wanted – and the quality? Ha. Definitely ‘nowhere to go but up’ calibre.

My cousins crowded in to get a better view. I distinctly remember wishing I could curl up into my stomach. After a pregnant pause, my eldest cousin, a director in the film industry, angled an eagle-eyed look at me and exclaimed, “Wow! I’ve just had a glimpse inside Cindy’s brain.” I stifled a gasp. I was shocked. It is one thing to want to hide from judgment, but is completely unnerving to feel like someone just crawled inside your head.

Then , a curious thing happened as a wave of relief and gratitude replaced fear. I realized that someone actually ‘got’ me. My cousin hadn’t judged me or my work. He’d merely stated that he’d seen beyond the paint, the canvas, the images. What he’d said made it okay to be me. Happily, ‘personal growth’ allows an artist to be a work in progress. I’m okay with that too.

From: Lorraine Khachatourians — Feb 09, 2010

Megan, your portraits are intriguing. I particularly like ‘Eve and Lorraine’ as it is so reminiscent of my daughter and I, many years ago. And ‘Salmon River’ is wonderful. Again, it brings back memories of my Dad, and the Little Salmon River we once went to that was shallow enough to lie in, like this, and where we fished. I can identify with the post-show letdown, and now can anticipate it. I am gearing up for two group shows and one small solo shows over the summer, so am in the feverish part of the cycle. The wrung out part will come later!

From: Margo Palmer — Feb 09, 2010

Megan Moore’s work is beautiful. I think she needs a support system of fellow artists that she loves & love her. She should join a studio situation where she can meet kind, generous people like her, if she can afford it. Then she can quit if she wants, once her support system is in place. She can have lunch with them, or just drop by & visit. She just needs “like” people that she respects & who respect her, who will be there for her. She sounds a little alone in the art world.

From: Thelma Katzenbach — Feb 10, 2010

Most people can’t help that they crash after a show, or any other time. The important point is what’s done with or about it, and that can be quite a varied selection of responses. In any case, since most people are not indulging themselves in depression, but experiencing it, I think empathy is in order. The “boot straps” comments are useless.

 

 

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