Hopeless?

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Dear Artist,

Yesterday, Keith Wright of Melbourne, Australia wrote, “Nothing is as hopeless as trying to justify a lifetime as an artist. I have painted for over thirty years and have little to show for it. I have a studio full of paintings and a wife who denigrates my career. I have no money, no sales, no hope. You may even say, ‘His paintings are bad.’ But I have no ego and little belief in my abilities. I always thought one day my work might be in demand. I know I don’t paint for others — it’s an addiction within myself. But the indifference to my work has gradually worn me down. I’m now being treated for depression. I can no longer believe in myself because no one else believes in me. A lifetime wasted. I should feel bitter but I’m beyond even that. I have loved my art but it has destroyed me.”

Thanks, Keith. I’m sure some of our readers will pass along their opinions. As in all cases where artists mention depression, I encourage them to seek help. Looks like you are doing that. While I’m deeply sorry for your predicament, I also recognize that it is, in degree, universal. While feelings of hopelessness may be part of the game, there is still the blessing, the power to create. At times like this, we can think of Vincent van Gogh.

“One may have a blazing hearth in one’s soul and yet no one ever comes to sit by it,” said Vincent. “Passersby see only a wisp of smoke rising from the chimney and continue on their way.” This statement — even though his letters are often full of flights of optimism and joy — is the grim outlook of many of us. Success or no success, joy or no joy, we are alone. And it is to this private struggle that we must consign our energy, our focus, and our lives.

Vincent tells us that one needs only to listen to the voice of nature to be fulfilled. That only the beautiful mind is needed. The idealist in us finds this to be true. The pragmatist doesn’t. Vincent himself could not live up to his own standards. He too was depressed. “What am I in most people’s eyes?” he asked. “A nonentity or an eccentric and disagreeable man.” Truth is, when we’re able to kiss off the expectations laid on us by ourselves and others, we have the chance to overcome.

Best regards,

Robert

PS: “As a suffering creature, I cannot do without something greater than I — something that is my life — the power to create.” (Vincent van Gogh)

Esoterica: Feelings of creative joy and the consequent self-worth come from doing the work. We all ask Vincent’s question: “There is something inside me — what can it be?” And we learn, “One must work and dare if one really wants to live.” Are we up to this question and its answer? If it was easy to fulfill I think everyone would be artists.

Keith Wright

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“Green and gold”
oil painting

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Untitled
oil painting

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“Teddy Bears Picnic”
oil painting

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Untitled
oil painting

The loneliest career
by Alfred Muma

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Untitled
stained glass window
by Alfred Muma

The loneliest career I think of is to be an artist. Visual artists work alone in their studios or on location. A visual artist has to be self-sufficient for inspiration and energy sources. It is easy to fall into doubting the validity of one’s work under these conditions. I find one way to keep myself positive is to get involved on some level with other visual artists. One can simply find another like-minded person to have coffee with and discuss art things. Or find a person to go painting once in a while together on location (en plein air). I have also worked on group projects in the past with other artists to create a group event, exhibition or show. These experiences have helped me think outside of my personal box opening up new possibilities. Being part of a studio tour is also a good pick-me-up even if you don’t sell anything. The compliments and teaching possibilities are endless.

My painting master, Alex Millar told me at the completion of my art studies with him at Art College… “To be an artist is a lonely life but if you are truly an artist there is nothing else like it.”



There are 2 comments for The loneliest career by Alfred Muma

From: Lawrence Philp — May 27, 2010

Keith Wright tells us the truth of his life and his environment. There is no shame feeling what you feel and knowing what you know. A good step to take is to ask yourself what this teaches you about yourself and what you do: Am I defeated, is my wife telling me the truth about our relationship? What I drive at is simply to become your own psychological monitor. Hard to do but saves on the doctors’ visits and the melancholia. Your honesty fits the times and a lot of good painter’s have just not painted. So I ask you what is your stroy going to be? I say these things to shine light,

From: Laura Colpitts — Jun 03, 2010

re: J.Bruce Wilcox… I totally agree with what you wrote.

Addidionally, yes, anger is just another emotion! That’s all. And our society is afraid of it. But how freeing it is to tap into it, and recognize it’s power. I’m not talking about destruction here…just a different energy, a cut above depression, and one that can take you somewhere better. A stepping stone if you will (not the final destination, ha ha!).

Here’s a neat technique for tapping into our emotions (no, not EFT, which is great too): Take 5 minutes, and Wheel.

What’s the Wheel? It’s 5 Emotions. Happiness/Laughter. Sadness. Fear. Anger/Rage. Peacefulness/Relaxing/Tired.

Set a timer (maybe a microwave). Start anywhere you want, although I prefer the order above. So, for 1 whole minute, force yourself to Laugh out loud like a maniac. Just go for it! Even laugh at how silly you feel doing this. Beep! Switch into Sadness…crying. Can’t cry? Just act it out, waah waah waah. Let it go. Stop; switch it up into Fear. Make yourself shake and tremble; cry if you need to. Oh, minute’s up, time for Anger. Grab a pillow if you don’t want the neighbours calling the police. Yell, curse, scream, swear your butt off. Your pets will be concerned. Rock it out. Oh, time up, switch to Peacefulness. Force yourself to yawn, yawn, yawn (also a good one to start with).

And that is it. Five whole minutes. Wheel once or twice, and see how you feel…usually clear.

The beauty of it is how it shows you all the emotions are just emotions; that those emotions don’t have to own you; and, well, you just feel a whole lot more clear and energized after a round or two. Very cool, and you aren’t allowed to get stuck on any one emotion, ie poor me, look how sad I am; or poor me, I’m so angry, look at how I was treated. B-o-r-i-n-g. Get those emotions moving, get that energy flowing, and get yourself un-stuck.

Try it!

Powerful emotions useful
by Nikki Coulombe, Lewisville, TX, USA

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“Cockatiels”
graphite
by Nikki Coulombe

Not hopeless! Finding the right medicine will help with the objectivity but the positives and negatives are here to stay. In drawing, to illustrate the solid, ‘positive’ shapes and not the background with all spaces considered, the work will be incomplete or less effective. As I am bipolar, I completely empathize, but illness is possibly the best thing to have impacted my life and work. From somewhere within us all is the primal determination to seek solutions. Emotions (“the final frontier”) can be powerful, but useful after all, and not so fearful when we become more familiar — collectively also — with how to stabilize or transform them to advantage.



There are 2 comments for Powerful emotions useful by Nikki Coulombe

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — May 28, 2010

While I have to agree that finding the right medicine will help someone with a (perceived) brain-centered chemical imbalance — really severe depression referred to as a ‘mental illness’ is in fact centered in the solar plexus — or gut. It is not a mental thing — it is an emotional feeling-based thing.

That said — one has to check how one is able or not able to express all of one’s own feelings. Why do I say this? Because the easiest way to move stuck hopelessness despair and depression is to find your denied RAGE — and move that! Oh but that’s right — you have to BE ABLE to rage. In our society rage is so not PC. But moving rage will move depression. And Kieth has a couple of things to be outraged about- most pointedly — the fact that he’s married to an un-supportive (insert whatever swear word you want here)!

Now to the funny part — as the other thing that will move depression is outright laughter. Only when one is in the depressed state — one doesn’t want to let go of it by laughing at everything. Depression is a spiraling-downward imbalanced negative vibration — and this vibration tends to self-perpetuate — and doesn’t want to let go. It is emotional quicksand — and the lower you go into it — the harder it is to move it and get out of it. But that’s what’s necessary. Stop investing in it. Realize that feeling it and releasing it allows it to dissipate. And one can then heal one’s self by doing so.

But that means that men have to learn to have their feelings — especially the dark and difficult ones — without allowing them to become destructive. Difficult emotional states can be constructive — not destructive — especially when one’s goal is to produce art that has emotional content and the ability to impact people powerfully.

That said — folks who ONLY want things to be positive make me cringe. While I am very positive about my art career at this stage of my life — I recognize the power that I have attained because I’ve been in Hell-on-Earth and I would not trade that experience for a life of no difficulty.

At present — I seek balance between the Light and Dark — not a cessation of the dark. The dark is a necessary part of my WHOLE experience and I value it tremendously — and I dislike intensely folk who refuse to recognize the need for both. They perpetuate NOT/WHOLENESS.

So on that note (down below) I’m going to post a poem I wrote during one of the most difficult periods of my life…

From: Nikki — Jun 03, 2010

It is a learning process.

Self-appreciation
by Patricia Riley, La Paz, Mexico

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“El Diablo y El Armario”
original painting by Patricia Riley

I think he has been listening too long to people who do not appreciate him. He has forgotten that painting is mainly for our own self-satisfaction. If every painter waited to be appreciated before he or she had self-respect, there would be a lot of miserable people out there. As a person who has painted for 40 years with little notice from the general public, and few sales, I can identify with Keith. However, fortunately I found a drive to keep me going. It is based largely on the desire to see how much I can develop and improve during the short time I have on this earth. I had a mate who couldn’t understand why I bothered to spend so much time painting, but I didn’t let it keep me from putting in several hours a day of painting. Now I am all alone and cherish the free time to spend as much time painting as I want. Keith, your paintings are very interesting and well done. You have a gift. Use it, appreciate it and don’t listen to anything negative that others have to say. Don’t even listen to your negative thoughts. Don’t let the devil in your head tame your wild side.

Well-meaning antidotes
by Carolyn Newberger, MA, USA

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Untitled
original painting
by Carolyn Newberger

My heart goes out to Keith and my concerns as well that his wife denigrates his choices in life rather than to provide support. Perhaps some counseling as a couple would help them to help each other better. Although I would like to offer an antidote to hopelessness, the reality is that we all struggle in our own ways. Sometimes well-meaning “antidotes” make people who are depressed feel even more alone when the antidotes don’t apply to or help them. Professional help may be needed at those times, as you acknowledge.



There is 1 comment for Well-meaning antidotes by Carolyn Newberger

From: sally — May 30, 2010

You have to wonder why the wife “denigrates” his choices though don’t you? We are only hearing one side of the story. My father had a victim mentality, with everything being someone elses fault, it gave him a away to remain emotionally stunted and very selfish. He is 67 and going on 18. I have run out of sympathy and all those other kindly feelings as he has repeatedly let me down year after year after year. Maybe “the wife” has had enough also. Because I must say Keith sounds hard to live with and blameless from his perspective. Take it from me this stuff wears thin after 30 or 40 years.

Follow your bliss
by Cathy Harville, Gambrills, MD, USA

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“Fog on the Lake”
original painting by Cathy Harville

I have suffered with bipolar disorder for 20 years. It cost me my high paying corporate career. But I found my love to paint when I could not work a “regular” job. And I have never been happier.

There have been times when I have been so depressed, I wanted to throw in the towel, but my painting is what has kept me going. I always feel better after I paint, even if it is a mess. The very act of painting keeps my brain from thinking about anything else.

Hang in there, get help, see a good doctor, and follow your bliss. Always believe in yourself. I have felt your pain, and I am still here to show that persistence, faith, and determination will get you through.

Believe in yourself
by Yvon Bouchard, Diana, TX, USA

Yes, get treated by someone for depression but get away from bad company who is tearing at your heart and beating you up mentally. Specifically to Mr. Wright — You obviously do not have the right market because your work is way beyond great. Your detail is impeccable and your feelings varied. Find another market and someone who is a friend, truly. Obviously you work very hard at your gift. It shows a quality way beyond “craft.” Do not give up. I have been tossed out of galleries in Santa Fe, NM and sneered at by some small towns in Texas. If I let it get to me I would be where you are. Do not continue to beat yourself up. BELIEVE. You are truly gifted.

A balanced life
by Anne T. Nielsen

I was heading down the same path as Mr. Wright of Melbourne. I came to realize that there needs to be balance; a life out of balance will most likely crash and burn at some point. (No man is an Island.) I found that investing in service to God and caring for others, loving my family and executing my art in equal portions have brought a joy to my life that withstands economic woes or hard times. My husband loves to say that I have lived my whole life making 50 cents per hour. I work hard at learning and getting better. I share what I know by teaching others. I listen to those whose art I feel is better than mine. I do not take critiques personally. I treat my art as I would a 9-to-5 job. And finally, I am having some consistent success.

New directions
by Jo Robinson, NC, USA

Mr. Wright, your paintings are carefully wrought and wonderful. I am 70 years old and a lifetime painter and sculptor. One survival technique that works for me is to step away, do something that brings in some money or changes your direction, something new. I worked as a draftsman for a while to keep from starving and that was enough to get me out of myself a little and excited me about getting back to work at the same time. It is a struggle, but one has to throw in a little practicality (like contacting galleries, etc) to be able to survive. Yes, you will be able to paint again even if you step away for a bit. We who are compulsive artists understand your plight and send recognition and encouragement.

Medication and Yoga
by Andrea Ward

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“final five-six”
illustration by Andrea Ward

Keith, I have had a terrible battle with depression and anxiety. I come from a creative family; however this condition runs through it like crazy. My brother took his life with this problem, many years ago. Early check-out was not an option for me. I sought treatment as soon as I realized something was wrong upstairs.

I am so pleased that you are getting treatment. I had to go through about 13 medications until one worked well. You have to be patient to try different ones because they work with our own chemical and genetic makeup. Yoga is something I learned during this time. It is a wonderful thing to do before painting and drawing. I really visualize well during Yoga. You will find that you will feel better and better.

Affirmations for Artists
by Dennis Marshall, Paterson, NJ, USA

Keith your situation touched a deep cord within me. Unfortunately like so many of us you send yourself negative messages and affirmations. It appears that your wife is not standing in your corner which is unfortunate. You can go it alone but it is better to have someone positive on the journey with you. Do not give in to the despair – do not allow yourself the luxury of embracing defeat. This can become quite comfortable. I have been painting for a long time and the last few years have not been as productive as they could have been. I too struggle with the forces that will stop me from painting. After looking at your work and seeing how good an artist that you are I felt compelled to write. Keith, do not worry about justifying your life for as Eric Maisel wrote in his book, Affirmations for Artists, “Reality an artist must embrace; but ghoulish self-disparagement must be disputed mightily. Do not fear that you are a worthless impostor: fear only that by such talk you are destroying your chance of being an artist.” Be critical of your work but do not negate yourself in the process. It is a difficult balancing act to be critical about one’s work without tearing yourself down or over-inflating yourself. We are on a journey part of which deals with getting out of our way and being present in the moment.

Seeking validation
by Keith Cameron, Sierra Madre, CA, USA

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“Cory Lidle”
watercolour painting
by Keith Cameron

Keith your work is your work, and the fact that you turn to art as a constant, ranks you as a pretty solid organism on this planet. It’s why you make art that is at the core of your current crisis. What is the validation you seek, and why do you seek that validation? A declaration to you, or to the whole world — the reflected meanings all have value. Whether it is about your work or the state of the human condition you always learn something in the process, and perhaps your accounting of that information is causing your concern. I don’t think you need our recommendations, but I for one applaud you as a creator. You know at your core why you make the work you do. I think you just need a clarification of what the work is for. For you, and/or your audience.

Non-artist envy
by Penelope D Rothfield, Chicago, IL, USA

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“Troll madonna”
original painting
by Penelope D Rothfield

Keith — I was struck by your comment that your wife denigrates your art. If this is so, it is not surprising that you are depressed. Anyone who lives with someone everyday for years and years who denigrates one’s core self would certainly become depressed. I urge you to take this seriously and if your wife does not have a conversion experience (begin to support you emotionally and psychologically) you must get a divorce — or at least separate. Emotional abuse is real and has real consequences.

I understand how bleak things can be — but believe that there is a light at the end of the tunnel — and it is not just the light of an oncoming train — it’s real. Just be patient with yourself and take care of yourself with tender loving attention. In time you will know real happiness again. Non-artists are very envious of artists and their envy comes out in the form of put-downs and negative comments and sarcasm — that is important to know and to remember.



There are 5 comments for Non-artist envy by Penelope D Rothfield

From: Sherry Purvis — May 28, 2010

I cannot imagine telling someone that they must get a divorce. To begin with, we, as outsiders looking in, don’t have a clue, except for a one line sentence, as to Keith’s plight in life. Depression is the issue, not art and if dealt with, art will flourish. I think that it is irresponsible to tell someone to get a divorce, that is between Keith and his wife.

From: Jan Ross — May 28, 2010

I have to agree with Sherry on this one. While a denigrating wife is certainly detrimental to one’s progression in his creative development, and negative in one’s mental, emotional and even physical health, I think seeking professional help for the marriage/well-being is a better solution.

From: Laura C — May 28, 2010
From: linda mallery — May 28, 2010

Since we don’t really know both sides of this equation, we need to wonder where his wifes “denigration” came from. Has she been supporting them all these years, and raising the children, and doing all the housework, while he “does his art”? The point is we don’t know anything, so offering advise other than, seek help for the depression, and couples counseling is unwarranted and could actually be harmful.

From: Aunty Socialite — Jun 13, 2010

10 years ago I left my husband, who never had a good word to say about my desires to write, to get my art degree (though he was right about that) or my appearance – he said my behind was so big no one could ever love me but him! Today I live with another artist who is incredibly supportive; at the moment I’m too ill to do much art, but my home life is brilliant. I hate to think of how I would be feeling today had I stayed, though it was the hardest thing in the world to go.

An irrational fire
by Ed Pointer, Afghanistan

052810_ed-pointer-artwork“Ice Fishing”
oil painting 16 x 20 inches
by Ed Pointer[/caption]

I have often “enjoyed” the bittersweet emotional trauma of wondering why I paint and “what’s the use?” I have painted for more than 50 years and, as does Keith, I have little to show for my effort except paintings under the bed, the porch, in the trunk of my car, my rented storage garage — anywhere but in galleries or other venues.

A dear painter friend of mine is about to become a great success in painting and he deserves it (8-12 hours a day he works at his art). This has caused me to do a little self-examination and I’ve almost concluded that it’s time for me to wise up and pursue other interests.

It’s obvious that Keith is a serious painter with unrequited talent but painting isn’t everything, it isn’t the do-all, end-all of life. Having had similar thoughts as Keith, I can attest to the validity of that statement. I’ve considered myself to be a professional artist, earning my living with painting and have been mildly successful, emphasis on “mildly.”

Perhaps objective reality is what’s needed. It helped me but I must also confess it’s not an easy endeavor and involves daily effort, especially when we possess an irrational fire that requires we be rewarded in some way for our painterly efforts. As I get older I am at last able to face reality: I’m beginning to think of my art more as a creatively satisfying pastime than a rewarding career.



There are 3 comments for An irrational fire by Ed Pointer

From: Krista — May 28, 2010

Your painting is so beautiful. It reminds me of ice fishing in northern saskatchewan as a child. Thanks for sharing.

From: Michael Epp — May 28, 2010

The only reason I subscribe to this newsletter is for the clickbacks, on the off-chance that I will see a painting like yours. A wonderful piece of work. Best, Michael

From: linda mallery — May 28, 2010

Ice, so cold and clear, it makes me shiver. Nicely done.

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 Featured Workshop: Mothership Adventures

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Mothership Adventures

The Workshop Calendar provides up-to-date selected workshops and seminars arranged in chronological order. 

 

 

World of Art Featured artist Phillip Morrison, Ireland  

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Galway Quays

original painting
by Phillip Morrison, Ireland

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 Anne Swiderski of Chelsea, QC, Canada, who wrote, “I find that Keith Wright has loads of talent and should keep painting, but perhaps the paintings don’t sell because of the darkness of their subject. Perhaps he could try focusing on those paintings that are uplifting, and paint but not show, those depicting darker emotions. After one year of this, approach a gallery.”

And also Barbara Sterger of the USA, who wrote, “His paintings are wonderful illustrations and show a high level of talent and imagination. Maybe what Keith needs is an agent to promote his paintings. Keith should be very proud of his work.”

Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Hopeless?

 

 

From: John Ferrie — May 24, 2010

Dear Robert,

Who invited this Grumpuss to his own pity party? Goodness, with his attitude, no wonder nobody is coming around. This man is venting his frustrations from his limiting life and blaming it all on his paintings. The art is just the symptom of his disease. The disease is an obsessive compulsive disorder that is founded in a lack of self esteem that has led to a lengthy and overdone depression. Mix in a little bi-polar disorder with some substance abuse and you have pretty much diagnosed every artist in the free world! No matter what you are doing, whether it is being a barista, a school bus driver a circus performer or an artist, you have to do it with enthusiasm.

I would tell this artist, beyond sticking with his therapy, and the answer is within him, stick to his art. BUT, set some goals, take your work to a new level, try something new, have an exhibition!

But for heavens sake, stop walling in your own self pity and get over it.

NOTHING is that heavy…NOTHING! He is burning daylight and the journey will continue with or without him. We are on this planet for a very brief period of time and you are dead forever. Ya, I do have that one needlepointed on a pillow…Donchaknow!

John Ferrie

From: Steve Morvell — May 24, 2010

Well my heart goes out to you Keith Wright. You have the misfortune to be living in Australia which is infamous for its indifference to art and artists. Nobody who doelives elsewhere could ever understand that. Australia is a very different marketplace to any other country I have exhibited in. John Ferrie back off!!!…you are behaving like a well intentioned but essentially ignorant Pollyanna. Less than 2% of visual artists survive on their art income in Australia so Keith…you are not ALONE. I have exhibited all around the world in my 30 year professional career and the reason is its bloody tough in Oz.!!!!!

Keith I understand that it is extremely important to build a support network around you….of people who DO UNDERSTAND your situation….not ‘be happy ‘ Pollyannas….but REAL people who DO understand how it really is.

If you can…get your art to countries in Asia and maybe the USA. You will find a totally different reaction to your passion. The culture of Australia is infantile….and we will all be long dead before it comes of age. Dont wait around for Australia to notice your art Keith….believe in it and take it to the world.

kind regards

Steve Morvell

www.stevemorvell.com

From: isa Benson — May 24, 2010

Oh Keith I just love those teddy bears, The little devils. What a pic nick that was. Hey wasn’t that a party? Love it how did you ever think of it? Nothing wrong with you or your art.

From: Graydon Guest — May 24, 2010
From: Joy Gush — May 24, 2010

Re: Keith Wright’s paintings. What I see is good work. I would not buy it because I paint what I want to see–and it must be Nature in all its glory. I ask people what they would hang on their wall. What colors are their favorites? Shall I paint a small canvas for their comments? I ask for guidance. Now is not the time to paint large canvases to sell. Those who know me and love my work cannot afford the canvases. Over the years when I was younger I always took my paintings to hang in the offices where I worked. I was interested in comments. Now I sell the miniatures 5x7s of water lilies. I am retired but I enjoy my legacy and i am content to have my many paintings around me. I would advise Keith to get some work that pays him, and later bring some paintings to the office and let those who also work there, give him comments of what they would like to see. Never give up, never, never, never give up. Said by Winston Churchill WW2. Times were really tough then in England. I lived through them.

From: Roger NZ — May 24, 2010

Your work looks great Keith. Remember we are in tough times and its the start of winter which doesn’t help. Sounds like you may be somewhat withdrawn from what you are trying to achieve and need a boost.Agree with John above, set some goals, refresh with a new direction,don’t look back and think what you should have done.As artists we can be very alone sometimes in our world and the need to break out occasionally. I can sympathise but gain strength from the quality of your work, shuffle it around, get out there, have an exhibition, something to aim for. I know for me , it can be a simple market somewhere that you just don’t know who may be there that may make your day. Even the feedback can give you a lift to keep moving on. Go well Keith

From: cindy wider — May 24, 2010

I guess it all boils down the reason why we paint. If we paint to seek approval, adoration, money or acceptance from others, yes sure we would become devestated and feel hopeless. You need to remember why you paint in the first place. You might have been painting for all the wrong reasons Robert and now its your time – time to paint for you! Forget about trying to paint for ‘what might sell’ or what ‘they might like’ or what ‘they might accept’. I think this is more your problem than the one that is surfacing here. I can see by the variety in your work that there is something sizzling away under the surface, you are like a mighty volcano about to errupt (you are just about to get really good but I think you need to diversify like John Ferrie said.) Your skills are good but there is a certain commitment lacking there. Its as though you are staying safe. why don’t you just forget about getting success with your art and just paint what is in your soul. No more trying to please, paint the guts of whatever it is you really want to say. Try some action painting for a change and see what happens. Just for fun. Better still, if you email me I will send you a free course that I have designed in action painting. It is so funny to be wacking, splattering and sqeezing paint around and with my course you can even make money letting others join in. I am not trying to sell my course either – I couldn’t be bothered, I am already busy teaching 60 people a week in nine virtual classrooms online. I love teaching the fundamentals of art, but I am so sad when I hear people like you who are just heart broken. don’t be sad Robert, rise above. This would be helarious fun! Get your wife to join in and she can ask her to bring a group of friends around to join in the fun. We used to teach this action painting working workshop and we had all sorts of people turn up and leave with the biggest grins on their faces and a handfull of fantastic memories. You just need to play for a while, to remember why you love art. I have had my fair share of depression, I had to learn to walk again and I know how hard it is to fight back so I would never undermine your condition. I have empathy and I know its hard but what is missing is a three letter word JOY email me if you like cindy@paintpj.com

From: Roger — May 24, 2010

Keith-

Hang in there…I was feeling discouraged with my photography, but was invited to be “featured artist” at one of the co-op galleries that I show my work at, and I forced myself to produce all new work for the show. I felt a lot of internal resistance and inertia, but I worked through it, and created, matted & framed all new work 1 week before the show…doing the work got my excitement going again…I still haven’t sold anything, but I’m feeling a passion again for what I do. One of my motivators was the idea of sharing…I wanted other people to be able to enjoy seeing the work that I do…

I’m not a painter (though I have been a gallery director in the past), but my opinion is that your work is of a quality that would bring people joy if they saw it…my humble suggestion is that you keep working, and keep putting your work out there…and, like I said, hang in there!

From: John Ferrie — May 24, 2010

I beg your pardon Steve Morvell, back off?

You have no business telling me anything. Where do you get off telling me I am a “pollyanna?” How RUDE!

And news flash spitfire, your 2% status is a global one, not just the glorified country of Australia. However, I have been asked to submit a grant proposal that Australia is offering to artists from other countries. So, you might just be seeing me in the land down under!

From: susan canavarro — May 24, 2010

Mr. John Ferrie, You can’t tell someone with depression to just get over it. Each individual responds to the world and its pressures and expectations differently. Mr Wright’s response is not ever going to be the same as yours or mine.

The depression is part of who you are, Mr. Wright. Not all of it. And it’s not always as negative as people seem to think. It can hold little gems of insight. It will add another dimension to your soul and your artwork.

Depression is cyclical, and as such we know we will come out the other side a better, more compassionate and insightful person. My father always said depression was really our living life without remembering or recognizing those moments of grace we’ve all felt. And those moments are there in everyday life, like the beauty of a flower, or a kiss from your wife or your kids, a hot cup of cappuccino and good conversation, the laying down a brush-load of paint on a fresh canvas… all moments of grace. We just need to look and recognize them for what they are. Remember those moments of grace, and you will begin to feel alive again.

As for your artwork, Mr. Wright, what I do is use my depression in my creative expression. I go with or to those dark places to find content for my paintings. I try to paint things that are important to me, that I have strong feelings about. It can be humorous, sad, tragic, sublime, awe inspiring, etc. Good painting is about expression by the artist, not simply just well-rendered subject matter. It’s that expression that gives a work that wow impact. Think about what you are feeling. How does your subject make you feel? What was it about that subject that made you want to paint? How does your depression fit into what you are feeling and thinking about your subject? Look at your depression as a gift, Mr. Wright. You have the ability to see the world with a different perspective. You can use that new found ability. All you have to do is find a way to express it. Let your depression guide your brush, Mr. Wright.

Maybe it’s not painting, maybe it is with sculpture, printmaking, a different type of subject/content; maybe it is with writing, telling stories. Write a journal about your depression. See what visual ideas pop up for your artwork. Do both – write a journal about your painting and your depression, why, how, subject, content, what your intentions are, whether you’ve achieved them, etc.

Please, Mr. Wright, use your depression. Some of our most creative people down thru the ages have suffered with depression, schizophrenia, bi-polar diseases, etc.

Don’t just get over it, use it.

From: steve Morvell — May 24, 2010

John Ferrie… as Susan Canavarro has pointed out…you cannot be so cavallier in your statements concerning depression. It seems you know nothing about it and would be better served to restrain your thoughts to areas where you may actually do some good. Depression is not something you can fling off with a few positive platitudes. I dont claim to know everything aboutTHE ENTIRE ART WORLD John…..but I do know about Australia and I do know about depression. And is what Keith is talking about. Yes I do say back off before you do more damage through ill chosen words. Im sure you are doing what you believe is right but in this case you are very far from the mark.

Keith Susan is so right. Use your depression to fire you up. Express your passionate heart but get yourself some paid work to take the pressure off.

kind regards

Steve

From: john Ferrie — May 24, 2010

Mr. Morvell,

I do not find your regards “kind” in anyway shape or form. I just find you rude.

if you actually read my letter, you will see that I am coming from a place of reverence, compassion and resolve. And I do understand sadness and I know the answer is always from within.

But ya gotta get real first…and sometimes that takes a gentle push in the right direction.

i offered sound advice of sticking to the work, finding a new media and setting goals.

While I am actually reading and receiving what you are saying, you have chosen otherwise.

You can’t shake someones hand while their fist is closed Huh Steve!

And lets just make this our last exchange! This is not the venue for you to vent your frustrations and tee-off on me.

From: Gail Runciman-Nicholls — May 24, 2010

Keith – I find you work appealing. But art stored in the art room DOES NOT SELL!!

Might I suggest contacting RMIT or Swinburn Colleges in Melbourne. I’m sure you will receive helpful advice on marketing.

Hold an exhibition and get your name out there. Beening seen sells art. Your art may not appeal to your wife, but I’m sure if your work was on view; you would be surprised at how many would find it appealing.

Follow you heart. Happy painting!

From: Roberta M. Menicucci — May 24, 2010

Your painting is absolutely beautiful, Mr. Wright!!! Not many people can paint other people so beautifully – I would kill for that woman’s legs who is wearing the nylons!! Get rid of your wife who is the reason you are dragging down and depressed and paint whatever you want!!

From: Faith — May 24, 2010

Wow, this one has fired everyone up this morning. I’m going to add more fuel.

GET RID OF THAT WOMAN/WIFE!

If she cared about you she would try to help you rather than destroy you. Believe me. I went through it and it took me many years to decide to do the right thing. I did get there in the end and it’s a really tough road because your self-confidence and belief in yourself has been destroyed. I don’t agree with some of the others that you destroyed it all by yourself, though you did contribute to the situation. You have no time to lose!!!!!!!

I don’t believe in hanging on to anything that is detrimental to one’s health and/or sanity. Of course, you are depressed. You are in a cage – cooped up like a captured and injured animal.

Freeing yourself from this totally negative, useless, distructive partner won’t cure you, but it will release you from having to fight those inner devils with all that negative energy. You need the positive energy your painting can give you if you let it!

Anyone who sacrifices his or her life for a partner (whatever the label is on the relationship) is going to suffer failure, depression etc.

Sort out the misery of your personal life and I am sure you will turn that corner and get back on the sunny side of life.

So many people hang on to a status quo that is no longer tolerable.

Your wife is a meanie. Throw her out, or throw yourself out!

From: Gail Runciman-Nicholls — May 24, 2010

Mr Ferrie, I don’t wish to get into your slanging match; but if you are going to say something; it would have been nice to have addressed the recipicant, not Robert.

I must say I would certainly have taken offence at your opening remark too! Certainly not helpful when addressing any-one in a delicate frame of mind.

From: Faith — May 24, 2010

PS I have to defend John Ferrie since he is doing the natural thing, which is to advocate trying to pull oneself up again – not always possible, but certainly worth a try and surely based on his experience!

Depression comes in many guises. In the old days there was melancholy, sadness, grief. Now there’s the lump sum of depression. Clinical depression is a medical condition that needs medical treatment. But many of those above mentioned states are not clinical, but induced by circumstances that are by no means all out of our personal control (see my comment above). So the first step would be to find out (maybe with a therapist) what is causing the state one is in. A psychotherapist is trained to define the type of depression. The second step is to get rid of the negative influences. No use talking to someone who despises you.

Keith’s first priority is to scrutinize the nature of his rotten relationship and sort it out. A partner who contributes to destroying someone is simply not worth having.

From: C. O’Brien — May 24, 2010

Depression can also come from having too much iron in your blood. This condition affects people of Northern European descent, it gets worse as you get older, as the iron builds up. The name of this condition is Hemochromatosis, and the “cure” is to give blood. Get your ferritin checked.

From: Wayne Strickland — May 24, 2010

Keith.I guess the thing for you to do mate is to surround yourself with friends who involved in art.Maybe you could consider starting an art class a couple of nights a week.Or perhaps paint a few small works and try the markets.It is possible to set yourself up as artists in residence at some of the bigger hotels who attract international guests.The idea here is to paint local works that are small enough to carry in luggage.It appears to me that you draw well enough to set yourself up in a busy place and try a few pencil portraits . I have tried all of the above with success during my carrer as an artist.Many of my artist mates over the years have fallen victim to depression including yours truly.

I encourage you to have a go at some of the ideas i have put to you and I wish you every success with your work mate.

Perhaps you could ask thr wife to sit for you as you in an effort to get her involved with your art.

There are many good Australian artists serving behind a bar or cleaning cars to support their passion.

Be kind to your wife and yourself mate.Take a step back from the life of keith and have a look at the way it is going and get a plan into gear to make it a better journey.I can promise you there is something really special waiting there just for you.

From: John Smith- South Africa — May 25, 2010
From: Consuelo — May 25, 2010

Messrs Ferrie and Morvell should stick to their art and leave finding the solution(s) to Mr. Wright’s dilemma to those who are trained to deal with it. It is clear neither ‘gentlemen’ have such expertise and should not be offering advice.

From: Patsy — May 25, 2010
From: Kimberly — May 25, 2010

A long time ago I took a class from a very successful artist (at the time) on how to market yourself as an artist. I used his guidelines and have had a very fulfilling life as an artist. Am I famous. NO… do I sell paintings yes…Have I recieved national recognition yes. Like many people who choose to be self employed I have to market my product. An inventor doesn’t take his new discovery and leave it on the lab table…he sets out on foot and shows it around. gets laughed at..made fun of and finally believed. I think all too many times artist think they are alone in this idea of creating and being seen OR whatever the artist goal is. But the illusion that you are discovered like a 1950’s movie star at the soda fountain is just that an illusion. In the mean time we have great examples like Robert here and his web site and getting out there. It is all a matter of will.

and one more thing…just because someone says something doesn’t mean it’s true…it just means that it was something they needed to say. YOU have to give permission to own what they say…don’t own it….

Kimberly

From: Chris Everest — May 25, 2010

My work has also worn me down. I am also on anti-depressants. For 30 years I have laboured without achieving any remunerative appreciation. It has cost me one marriage, both kidneys and my hearing. My life has been rigidly controlled within a hierarchical grading structure which has paid and rewarded me with all the churlishness shown to the Under-Gardener’s Deputy Assistant Peasant. This is the Academic World.On the other hand my hobby, my love, MY ART, my friends have kept me centered and creative, preserved my sense of humour and taught me to deal with the rest of the unimaginative and stale, flat, unprofitable world.

From: Keith Wright — May 25, 2010

Thank you all for your support and comments. I will need lots of time to think through your kind suggestions and advice.

A couple of things I would like to mention. I do paint for myself and not the market. The subjects I chose are as much my art as the technique and media. I only paint those things I am passionate about, that appeal to me. For the artist all of life is grist for his wheel.

Same goes for technique. I dont want to loosen up – I paint as I wish too. Otherwise what is the point.

Depression has been my companion for 30 years. It is major depression, and treated as such. I have monthly monitoring. I find the misunderstandings about what depression really is to be very disappointing. It’s not about “thinking positive”. For me its about staying alive.

Steve, you are right. Australian culture is an oxymoron. Do you remember exhibiting my work in the Grampians all those years ago? Glad you are still in the struggle mate.

Thank you all again

From: Cara Dawn Romero — May 25, 2010

The paintings are fine – what I suggest is a new wife.

From: Brenda Wright — May 25, 2010
From: Donna Underwood — May 25, 2010

I understand….but don’t let it get you!

I enjoyed your work on clickback. Looks like good stuff to me!

I almost gave up painting several years ago……..got fed up with doing the same old thing..almost trashed my art and and tossed the brushes. I found a box of oil pastels in my studio..as I was preparing to get rid of everything..I ripped the wrappers from them and just had fun..working spontanelously and 5 years later and 30,000 oil pastel images later and reducing a box of oil pastels to bits every week…..I got experience…I got passion …I got bliss..and I got a lot of poor images but also award winners. It all comes out, I call them, my life in pictures. It worked for me, my brushes never have time to dry out. I still get bad stuff..stashed everywhere..I drag them out and go at them again. I suggest you put your depression out on canvas or paper. It may be hard to do at first, putting your emotions on paper..but try it with no given plan as to what it should look like. I think you will find it a great release and maybe a new way of working that you never dreamt possible.

From: Rick Austin — May 25, 2010

I feel your pain, but what artist doesn’t. It seems to be the bain of the creative mind. Our minds are non-stop creative – it creates either masterpieces or disasterpieces if we let it. Years ago I decided to take the negative thoughts and look at them as bad drawings – I simply tear them off of the pad a trash them and start over with a clean sheet and create a good thought.

We are given this GIFT to share, be it for money or simply for the joy of it. How many beautiful flowers bloom with undescrible radiance and are never noticed? They don’t stop blooming they just go on doing what they were created to do — Bloom!

I have battled with depression and acceptance for close to 40 years and it all comes down to loving what you do for the pleasure it bring you and only you.

From: Myrna — May 25, 2010

We’ve convinced ourselves that if we just work harder or try longer or take another class or or or… our goal will be accomplished. The goal being external measures of success in the form of sales and recognition. It’s a fallacy.

I spent over twenty years building up a career as a textile artist. My work was admired by many and bought by a few. It was featured in high end, contemporary art galleries as well as group and solo exhibits. I’d formulated a plan, worked it, made significant progress, and then – when the recession hit – here I sat with a studio full of unsold pieces, more in the works, shows booked, and no cash to create. That’s depressing.

If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll get the same results so I took a good look at what I was doing and what I wanted out of my work. Although I had the support of my spouse, the thing that once nurtured me was instead dragging down my self esteem and erroding our budget. I quit – as in I quit showing in galleries, trying to sell my work, trying harder, working longer. I quit being in business and started creating for the pure joy of it. The percentage of artists that make a self supporting living from art is VERY low. The percentage of artist that paint (or create) for the pure joy of creation is very high. I joined their numbers.

I know my work is good just as you know your work is good. We can feel it. If we allow others with their positive comments or their money to be the measure of our success, such fickleness is doomed to OUR failure. Create for the love of creating, for the expression of self, for the joy of the motions, for the excitement of the process and the delight of the results. It might not increase your sales but it will definitely increase your joy. Bye bye depression. It’s a process. It took me months to relax through the layers. It was worth the work. Best of luck.

From: Rene Wojcik — May 25, 2010

Keith, I can’t offer too much more than what has been said. You have talent and I like your work. Perhaps you need to join a group of artists that can help give positive critiques on your work. From those critiques you can evaluate where you are and you can see what other people produce. This can help a lot. Remember your art, like life, is a journey not a guided tour.

From: Jackie Knott — May 25, 2010

I have listened and watched that youtube segment on Vincent many, many times. Beautiful.

Observations:

Art is a singular calling few rise to the top. That’s a given. If we are compensated well enough to make a living at it we feel especially fortunate. Have a little empathy for those who haven’t.

If I had a mate who didn’t believe in me and my work one or the other would have to leave, and it wouldn’t be my life’s calling. To stab into the soul of another human being has to be the cruelest thing I’ve ever heard of. Wife needs therapy, and therein may be the root of Keith’s depression and possibly his lack of success. Living with a bully is a recipe for failure, regardless of vocation.

The suggestions to bring Keith’s exposure outside Australia are valid. Whatever is being done to market your work must be changed because it hasn’t worked thus far. I’m sure you’ve done everything you can think of but try any new and different marketing techniques. I recently read about an author who sold her books off a card table on a busy urban street corner. She sold twenty the first day.

Don’t stop painting. You are a very capable artist. Maybe you just need to hear that more often.

From: joey cattone — May 25, 2010

Your work is wonderful – and I especially like the Teddy Bears Picnic . The ability to make one smile is a gift – it is only exposure that you need. The fault of many gifted artists is that they do not have a marketing & business background and are left unseen . A supportive spouse and a marketing agent are all you need . Good luck to you , I hope you conquer the depression.

From: Karen — May 25, 2010

I know from experience how difficult it is to persist in your art without the interest or support of your spouse. It’s not that he’s mean, he just doesn’t understand that this is my life’s blood. I, too, have suffered from depression my whole life. What has really helped me has been finding ways to interact with other artists in ways that I actually get to know them and develop friendships. When I talk to other artists I discover that I am not alone, and that there are others on this planet that see the world in the way that I do. It cheers me up enough to help keep me going (along with visits to counselors, too.) One way I’ve found artists is by renting studio spaces over the years in a couple of rehabilitated old buildings with groups of other artists. For a while, I’ve belonged to a group of artists who meet once a month for lunch, mainly to talk. This group is comprised of anyone who defines themselves as an artist and who wants to come. Note that none of these encounters that support me are from art gallery openings where the tension and pretensions are high! Try to find like-minded acquaintances, it really helps. Best of luck.

From: Karen — May 25, 2010

Oh, I forgot to add…Nobody needs to “justify” their life. You are alive. You are uniquely you. You are innately “allowed” to live your passion to create. You aren’t harming anything, you are just living your life and trying to add to the universe’s creativity. No justification is necessary. Period.

From: Kristina — May 25, 2010

First of all, your work is very good. Within yourself, you have to believe that, Keith. As I read Robert’s letter, I realized your view of life, your paintings specifically, is negative. That is why you are going downhill. It is the way of the Universe to create positivity, not the opposite. Negative thought and behavior leads to negativity, which is very unhealthy and deadly. It is too bad that your wife is not supportive. That, basically, is at the root of things in your life. If this is so, you must believe in yourself and your work. I see your frustration in your bout with depression. All leads to and from negativity. First of all, LOVE your art! This will lead to loving yourself! This creates confidence. It is a positive approach, not a negative one! Keep along the positive road! Abandon the negative path! In exercising this behavior, you will find your life turning around!

It is simple: negativity causes negativity and positivity creates positivity! Which is the way you want to look at life? I think that you know the answer to that, Keith.

From: Elaine — May 25, 2010

Most artists support themselves not by paintings alone, but by combining that with teaching, art-related work (eg graphic design) and the like. We don’t have patrons any more, alas. In addition to others’ suggestions, why not de-commercialize some of your art for a bit? Try some art trading online through a reputable forum such as http://atcsforall.com/ You’ll get loads of positive feedback, your work will get spread about the world, people will start to solicit trades, and you’ll end up with a network of folks who love art that are at your fingertips. Most art trading is done with miniatures and is NOT for money, but it’s got benefits that perhaps you’ve forgotten about. Oh and while you’re at it, get into an art club and set up an online gallery of your work, too! Art is both work and joy, and you’re leaving out the second half.

From: Terrance — May 25, 2010

“Happiness for a reason is just another form of misery.” Anything external which gives you happiness can be taken from you.

From: Tom — May 25, 2010

I just recently attended a workshop with Wolf Kahn, who is a well-regarded modern American landscape expressionist. His painting sell well and at very high prices. And he has much respect from his peers as well. You would think he would be immune to bouts of despair but he confessed that now that he is nearing the end of his life that his entire life’s work seems pretty fruitless. So the despair and depression are something that everyone goes through. It is unavoidable if you are living your life based on external expectations (and who doesn’t do that from time to time). I found the best cure for depression about my art is to do more of it. It is impossible to be depressed and create art. And dump your wife. Or stop painting altogether but somehow that may make the depression only worse.

From: Lynn Reitmeyer — May 25, 2010

Hi Kieth,

You sound so isolated! Find the artists in your region that have a group, (like an Art Students League) and become part of the ‘CONVERSATION’. It is often the power of a group or a sometimes even a single word, that starts you in a new direction to create a body of work that is your breakthrough. Wishing you the creative breath…

From: Rick Rotante — May 25, 2010

I don’t want to seem to add to the depressive side of this conversation, but I feel many go unappreciated. I fall into this category myself. I do good work. I’m told I do good work. People over the years who buy my work also appreciate me. But every day I work I feel I don’t live up to my own expectations. What I did yesterday seems to always pale in comparison to what I’m doing today. Am I known, yes to a small coterie of buyers and supporters. I also have to say my wife is one of my biggest supporters and I would not be painting without her help.

I’ve spend my life on the fringes, selling here and there and making a go of art. I can’t think of a day without art. But yet I feel unfulfilled many days. One thing that has helped is teaching art to others. When I see their successes it helps soothe my nagging doubts about my own life. Artists ARE underappreciated as a group. The public in general doesn’t see the true value in what we try and do. Many can’t see how art fits into the scheme of life. Only artists know what I am talking about. I guess I can say I too suffer depression, but not to the level of incapacity. I get up and work every day and produce work. I attend workshops with other artists. I do shows, tent fairs and keep pushing my work. Will I get rich and famous, probably not. And maybe this is a good thing. Anonymity gives me special privileges, like painting what I want and not what I need to paint to feed the machine. Overall, as I get older, I like what I’ve done even though I can’t live off my work. For years I kept a full time job while painting, selling and exhibiting. It was hard and still is even though I’m not semi-retired.

What I’m saying here is the struggle for artists is universally shared and we need to keep communicating and sharing and letting others know we are not alone. In centuries past there have been artists with the same problems and completely unknown.

Ultimately, we paint for ourselves first and foremost. Fame and fortune, if it comes, is icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Hang in there Keith, there are many who stand with you.

From: PeggySu — May 25, 2010

Given years of experience and study (because I have 2 family members with mental illness) I have no doubt that mental illnesses are primarily physical illnesses that are treatable. It is NOT your fault and I know that with any mental illness but most especially with depression it is hard to advocate for yourself.

Your art is superb. Please don’t give up. Please find a doctor who can work with you until you find a better treatment. You deserve to feel happy. Do make sure you get enough sun and get your Vitamin D levels checked. We here in the US are getting cheerier as summer comes;you may have Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) on top of everything else.

Also, if you possibly can, walk more. You only need add a few steps a day to get up to a respectiable distance.

Best wishes!

From: Pamela Sweet — May 25, 2010

To Keith and anyone else that suffers from depression, please go to this site: vitamindcouncil.org. Click on the article about depression. You may then want to get the testing kit for vitamin D 3 levels. Low vitamin D 3 can cause depression or make it worse. Also, Keith I really like your landscape painting.

From: helen — May 25, 2010

Hi Keith, As an Australian artist who spent many years abroad, and only recently came back to Australia, I just wanted to say how much I understand (and share) your plight. Perhaps in other countries there remains an awarness of the power that Art can have, both to the individual and the community.

In Australia though, there is a cmplete lack of this awareness about art, and this means that most talent, those who do not play the complex art games, are simply ignored. No matter how good an artist they may be.

I think that you have to be an artist in Australia to realise just how bad the situation is here, and what great talent is being ignored.

But the only thing to do here, is as Robert says. That is don’t give up, and let your understandable emotions speak through your work, no matter how bleak you feel. Above all, don’t give up.

From: Lesley — May 25, 2010

Whilst not wishing to brush aside what Keith is going through now, my view is that he has enjoyed success. He has spent the past 30 years of his working life painting, something that many talented individuals don’t achieve, for many reasons. Whether he considers his work good or bad is irrelevant. Yes, selling is important and necessary and times are hard now, but nothing can take away the fact that he has been able to follow the career of his choice for 30 whole years.

From: Lorri Roberts — May 25, 2010

Hi Keith as a fellow australian I wish you well and hope that you can fight your depression I had a look at your work and I liked the atmospheric landscape very much and nobody would doubt your skill.think about marketable art if you want to sell(meaning subject matter) I dont think teddy bears having a good drinking party would be that desirable to hang on a wall (Tho it made me smile) anyway good luck and keep at it.

From: Bunny Griffeth — May 25, 2010

I just wanted to say to Keith that I wish you healing from depression. I agree with the previous comment about your skill and beautiful work, and with the fact that you have been fortunate to have worked for 30 years at your painting. I went into a nursing career to earn a living, –but my creativity burst through into my life – sometimes in sewing or craft projects, even into the form of ‘coughing pillows” as a nurse (used to splint a surgical site when you have to cough) that I would take requests on what they wanted for a character or drawing on them. We can’t help ourselves….we are born to create. :) I always considered myself as an artist. Please don’t despair but please be thankful for those gracious years you’ve had with your love, and all those that are in front of you…you never know what success tomorrow will bring. It’s always been very touching for me to look at Vincent Van Gogh’s life and the despair he felt, almost as though it’s there for us, so we know we’re not alone in our darker moments….

From: Mary McEwan — May 25, 2010

Perhaps if you are not being appreciated as an artist in Australia, it may be time to market your very nice work in Canada, Europe or the U.S.

I am sure with some research you could find an niche for your work which may aid you with your depression. It is all very well to be wonderfully talented but there is nothing like a sale to feel appreciation.

From: Gina — May 25, 2010

Keith, we don’t know each other, but I understand what you are going through, I’ve also been a victim of depression, We are licing in hard times, and nobody said it would be easy being an artist, but ehrn something is worthwhile Keith, it’s never easy, we all have our downs, but tell yourself this you’re paintings are youre sould, and you have a beautiful soul, you have a wonderful gift that perhaps some people are envious, but hey who cares…No Keith don’t give up you’re talent, necause this is what you are all about, this is youre passion, this is youre reason for being, and noone can take that away from you, try other countries, if it’s money that’s a big problem, but don’t give up0, never,ever give up, youre wish maybe just around the corner, you must keep on going because if you don’t you will never know, and that’s sad, if you need an ear, I’ll be there for you, I’m an artist too, I haven’t had any instructions, in painting, but hey I look at my paintings and I’m proud, because from nothing I was able to create beauty, and for me that is my passion, and I keep learning to get better, and I don’t paint for money, although sometimes I need to, we all need to eat, but I truly paint for me, and to remind myself, that the goof Lord is guiding my hand.

I live in Canada, especially in Quebec city they are truly fanatics about artists, Montreal too, give it a try my friend, give it a try, the only thing terrible that can happen is they say no, and…you keep going, looking elsewhere, you will find it I know you will, but you gotta want it bad enough, best of luck to you.

From: Diane Horn — May 25, 2010

Early on I had an art teacher tell me to keep my art as an avocation, not a vocation. He explained that as soon as you make it ‘product’ you are risking your love for it. Even successful artists have to compromise something in order to make a living from art. I think now, 30 years later, he was so correct. It was probably the best advise I received in school!

Your work is very nice, but so is the work of millions of others. The art game is to be differentiated from the passion for making art. Wait tables, change sheets, empty bedpans or whatever to pay the rent on your studio! But don’t expect it of your art.

As for your wife’s attitude, it may be time to leave her behind too.

My husband is a musician and he plays honky tonks to make a buck, we live very simply, it was our choice, it was how we had both a home fit to live in and energy left for our passions, mine art, his music. You may have married the wrong woman. Or as I frequently tell my husband – “your a bigamist, Dear, you were married to your music before I came along!”

From: Jo Vander Woude — May 25, 2010

Keith, the first thing on your agenda is to become healthy – depression affects all areas of ones life and there is help out there. After you have a handle on your health you can take a better look at what you plan to do with the rest of your life. Our lives need to be balanced with what brings us joy and our responsibilities. In other words, you may need to make some changes. I am a believer in “don’t keep doing things the same way if it’s not working”. Best of luck.

From: Anonymous — May 25, 2010

Dear Keith, I write from my studio/living room with paintings stacked to the ceiling and feeling an understanding of your plight. I believe that creating is only part of art. The other part is showing your art, marketing, interacting and finding a good venue for your paintings is easily as important as the product itself. And that takes a whole different set of skills than painting. I’m quite sure you could be an acclaimed artist given the right situation. That’s a reality.

From: Dora Gourley — May 25, 2010

Hi Keith

I like your work very much. I’ve been painting for over 50 years, showing since the 70’s. I couldn’t make a living selling artwork, but I paint for myself. I hope you will get the wind under your sails and fly free again. Your talent is worth it.

I started teaching a few years ago, and find the rewards of sharing what I know with others is well worth it.

Libraries, hospitals, Nursing Homes, etc. often will show your work and you’ll get the recognition you deserve. Scope em out…who knows!

Best wishes…

From: Susan Downing White — May 25, 2010
From: Stephanie Johanson — May 25, 2010

Hi Keith, Your work is wonderful. I particularly like the landscape. I’ve been painting on and off since 1979. I sold my first painting in 1985 for $26 at a science fiction convention in Vancouver, BC, Canada. When I was a child and asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say I wanted to be an artist, but I have never made a living at it. Life always seems to get in the way. I am an artist, no matter how many pieces I sell, or how many people like my work. You are an artist. Your work is wonderful. Thank you for reaching out, or I wouldn’t have seen it. Now my opinion might not seem that important, as it appears only as text in the comment section, so to know who I am it might be best to look at my art online at www.neo-opsis.ca/art

From: Bob — May 25, 2010

Dear Keith, You are already addressing the most important thing – your health and trying to figure out the reason for depression. It’s probably not about your art at all. There are some talented, rich people suffering from depression, and some poor as a mice happy people out there. Your art is just fine, the problems are elsewhwere and I am sure you will find them and solve them and readjust your life to live happily and enjoy your talent.

From: Marleen Goff — May 25, 2010

Keith: I am 70 years old, a licensed therapist (behavioral), and currently back in school working on a BFA. In addition, I struggle with depression and what I know, most of all, is that we have to force ourselves to act. And in the act of forcing ourselves, we can again “hook up” to ourselves. Art is like therapy – it extracts the best and worst in us; unfortunately the worst lasts longer than we want it to. Be well.

From: Charlotte Hussey — May 25, 2010

I like Keith Wright’s work. I think he has honed his technique. Perhaps he just needs to be a bit wilder…This calls to mind Eric Maisel’s definition of an artist as a tamed wild person. I think Wright has the tamed (technical) side, but now needs to really ask what his significant questions are and go all out to paint them….

From: Bill Sander — May 25, 2010

Hardly a waste. I greatly appreciated seeing Keith Wright’s works.

From: rf — May 25, 2010

Keith,

All I can say is that I also know exactly how you feel and what you’re going through – Don’t Give Up, I don’t know how many times I’ve heard stories about ‘top’ professional people who were just about to give up – and Bam, something happens to set them free.

Also, do you paint for Product or Process (I know…it’s both), Process is most important, in my opinion – or should be :) so ride the wave of emotion, and when it subsides, on to the next painting

From: Suzanne Barrett — May 25, 2010

Dear Keith, I thought your landscape painting was the best of all, the teddy bear one was sweet and amusing (in a bizarre way!) so I would suggest from a practical point of view you could a) pursue landscape painting as this seems to be your strength; b) perhaps pursue the theme of teddy bears acting out human activities (nice ones!). If you need to take anti-depressants take them – there is no shame – you need to be able to get through the day. Above all, find someone kind and understanding to talk to, be it friend or family member who won’t be hurtful or tell you to pull yourself together when you may not be able to. I am sorry your wife is not very supportive – that is sad. Many of us have wasted years of our lives – you are not alone in this but take comfort from the fact that you have had the courage to live out your dream. Many don’t. Could I also suggest something which you might find difficult? Next Sunday, take yourself to your local church and just sit, listen and sing (singing can be very joyful and uplifting). You don’t need to speak to anyone if you don’t want to – just physically be there. It might help. Take heart, most people do care about others – this website proves it. I hope you will get through this.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — May 25, 2010

Keith- in the late 1980s after only a few years at my art full-time I had to crawl out of that black hole called depression. No matter what anybody says- the only person here who can do the work of getting you out of (at least most of the time) a depressed state is YOU. Therapists may be able to help you- but in the end only you can do the work- because this work is ONLY yours.

And if a relationship is destructive instead of supportive it may be necessary to get over being in a relationship first. But we are programmed from the beginning to think we are not whole if we are not in a relationship. This is BS of biblical proportions- one of the GREAT LIES our social system is set up on.

So Kieth- please allow me to speak to you while commenting on other’s comments…

To Brenda Wright re: Dr Grant Mullen. I visited this person’s website and if you’re a christian- he may have some answers for you. So while I agree that depression is primarily caused by a disconnect from God- GOD isn’t a Christian.

When we are born into this life our connection to Source usually gets shut down. We all spend our entire lives wondering what’s wrong- what happened. Few ever do the necessary work to re-connect. If one gets depressed enough- sometimes one can find that re-connection point in the darkness. Most folk kill themselves first.

Artists get the double-whammy. We get here with a recognizable gift that often looks more like a curse before we’re done. We have to create- against all odds. It’s virtually impossible to succeed financially and so we live desperate lives trying to stay afloat and keep creating. So there’s lots to be said for having diversified income streams.

And- to do what we do requires a virtually insane commitment level to perseverance. The end result is worth it- however. But it is still up to you- Kieth- to keep on keeping on. If you go fully into your depression trying to understand it (in the end John Ferrie’s right) it will be you that gets over it. I did. It can be done.

To Myrna re: sales fallacy. Your description of what you’ve been doing sounds very much like mine. Shows all over the country/world- few sales.

There is no hundreds of years old market for textile work- textile work as art is only about 40 years old. And the women coming to see these shows don’t come to buy- they come looking for ideas (to steal) that they are just utterly sure you want to share with them. But if folks don’t recognize painting as valuable- they’re rarely going to warm up to textiles.

But my consciousness experience is as different as night and day from yours. And I also totally disagree with Diane Horn and her teacher.

I make art TO SELL. Why? Because the only way to succeed as an artist financially while still alive is to sell- AND SO THAT IS MY INTENT. I intend to sell. So I do. And only this INTENT to sell changes/breaks the (artists never succeed til they’re dead) pattern. So I make art without any attachment cords on it so it can go away from me. I make art that already- even before I’m finished with it- belongs to someone else. And in fact I just made 2 sales at my recent opening- proving AGAIN- that my textile art has a market because I’ve made MY ART valuable.

I also make art for the immeasurable joy and connection to my God Creation experience it brings me- yet it is my VOCATION- it’s perfectly OK for it to be my VOCATION- I’m perfectly happy having people give me money for it- and I’m already rich just because I’ve spent my life creating ART- not doing something less.

But I also had to take the long view. Only I can create what I’m creating and what I’m creating is utterly unique. It will out-live me by centuries. In those future centuries it will be recognized. No doubt whatsoever. Humanity is so art ignorant it takes them that long just to catch up.

So Kieth- figure out a new way to push your work out there- even if it means doing it all- all by yourself. If you never give up in this lifetime you set the stage for your future experience from what you gained in this one- even if you don’t believe me…

And boy it was sure nice to see somebody else being controversial!!!

From: Jan Ross — May 25, 2010

I’ve just seen the samples of Keith Wright’s works, and think they are well- executed, with more of an illustrational feeling than depicting his innermost thoughts. Each piece presents his excellent skill as a painter/craftsman. My only comment is that the range of subject matter makes it difficult to determine where his passion lies, what really excites him? Are these paintings copies of subjects he’s seen in publications, or did he compose/experience them himself? Does he intend to be an ‘interpreter’ of his visions or a camera duplicating things?

Maybe Keith hasn’t taken his work outside his studio, which would account for his lack of sales, aside from the economic difficulties the world is encountering these days. My suggestion is that Keith should acquire some credentials through juried competitions, learn some marketing skills or somehow gain some exposure for his work. I know this is a frightening venture, but it’s necessary and will bring him some satisfaction as well as some profit or interest in his efforts. Also, I’d recommend he join some art associations or at least meet with other artists to share his thoughts, experiences and learn from critiques. It sounds like his wife isn’t enamored with his profession or his work so he will have to make time to be with other people of like minds. It could also be that she’s frustrated with his lack of income over all these years so he’ll have to go back to a ‘regular day job’ to support her and his art habit…some flowers on occasion would help too!

From: Michael — May 25, 2010

Your letter struck a chord with me, as I’m sure it did with other readers.

Specifically, your feelings of artistic lethargy, that being the inactivity in your art career and the ramifications on your emotional well-being.

Keith, you claim that you don’t have an ego but I believe it is your ego that is actually tormenting you. If you you can let go of your ego, or at recognize its need for fame, riches, and peer acknowledgment, you may be able to enjoy the fact that you have managed to pursue your passion for over thirty years – that is your true reward for your art.

Sitting alone with your brush and paint, creating the worlds that your mind projects onto the canvas – that is your success. That is the proof of your abilities. It doesn’t matter if your sell a million dollars worth of canvases – that’s just money. Your success is that you painted them in the first place. Harbour no doubt that your garage is already full of riches.

The irony is that you’re an extremely prolific artist who has created a collection of versatile works. You’ve answered the passion burning in your being – believe in that and it will calm your mind and soul.

From: Leslie Edwards Humez — May 25, 2010

I was moved by Keith’s plea . His examples as shown in the current click back are well executed and saleable, which leads me to ask if “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” happens to be available and within my budget.

Do you have a website, Keith? If not, consider taking a few months off and investing in yourself by building one to showcase your work. Or take an easy way out and list with Genn. Reach out of your comfort zone. Take a chance on yourself. Get your work out there. If you are already showing your art stick with it, but search out more distant venues as well. Finding a niche is hard work.

From: Isabel Cohen — May 25, 2010

Keith’s hopelessness is universal today. There is very little love left in the world. It seems that all we care about is money and what it can buy.

Look at BP. What kind of example are they setting for their customers? And what kind of example are we setting by continuing to use fuel that so pollutes our planet and our innocent wildlife? We must begin to really live again by banding together and fighting for the good of the earth and ourselves!

BP is just one example of how out of control we have allowed our values and what we consider to be important in life to get.

Our art keeps us secluded from the real world. We must seek out our neighbors on Facebook or by joining groups online that care about our planet.

Once we do this, we realize that life is good and worth fighting for and that we can make a difference!

Keith needs to do art that matters. That speaks to people. So do you.

From: Deby Adair — May 25, 2010

I took a look at Keith Wright’s art selection and I really liked his work.

I had a similar predicament to Keith’s for many years, when, before becoming an author and having time for making art, I was a professional equestrian. It was often commented that I was underrated and unrecognized for the level I had achieved, however, despite all my best efforts, some outstanding competitive success, a professional approach and a deep love of horses, it was an utterly heartrending 20 years as a career choice. Change came because of, and through, ongoing ill health. And a total career change was the best thing that could have happened to me!

In the equestrian world, as in the art world, and indeed in many fields, it’s often a ‘not what you know, but who you know’ situation. It’s important to bear this in mind to avoid the kind of discouragement that Mr Wright is suffering from.

Mr Wright mentions not having any ego. I can understand how after many years of feeling ‘left out in the cold’ that this might be the case, however I also believe that’s where the problem lies.

Humility is not the same as being devoid of self belief. Ego is another thing again. Whilst it’s good to be humble, it’s only healthy to be humble within reason, otherwise, the one thing I solidly learned as a competitive horse rider, was that self depreciation was dangerous when in the company of other human beings. If you’re good at what you do and you don’t step up to the plate and at some level let others know that you know you are, it’s as if you draw every germ of human disparagement from those who understand you lack self worth, and need to make themselves seem better, by pushing you further down . The envious, snide, sarcastic, un-achieving and plain nasty, will be all too happy to let you believe you are unworthy and, most dangerously, they will do everything in their power to make you believe that they actually know what they’re talking about.

I want to say this to Keith Wright… your work is great. Get help with the depression, and dump the people who keep you in a dung heap. Start again when you feel you can, and no matter what… don’t quit doing what you love because you’re really darn good at it.

From: Gail — May 25, 2010

These days artistic skills alone don’t sell paintings,I suggest that Keith Wright source out some marketing skills.

Paintings don’t sell stored in the art room! (wise words of wisdom from my husband!).

I find his paintings rather appealing. Some exhibitions would also be helpful to get his work seen and “get his name out there”!

Listening to negative people can quickly destroy your inner artistic being. Maybe Keith could join an art group, where like minded people can help guide him in this area.

I am in country Victoria, but I know that Swinburn College and RMIT are both great teaching colleges. I’m sure if Keith were to contact either place he would receive good advice.

From: Robyn Manning — May 25, 2010

There is nothing wrong with your paintings, I can clearly see you have talent. The problem lies in who they may or may not appeal to. This may mean the subject or technique [hard edged]or colours may not appeal. I personally like work that has an unfinished mysterious mood so I would be very choosy about where to put the hard edges……just in the focal point…..and fuzz the rest out. That is much easier to look at.

From: Roger Cummiskey — May 25, 2010

You can let this guy know that if I could paint like him I would be happy, not sad!

From: Jim Rowe — May 25, 2010

Hi Keith, what you are going through is a natural process of self realization. From the little that I have seen of your work (there are not many links to your work on the internet), you havn`t found your own personal style and you will be depressed until you do find it. Then of course after you find your style and start on a whole new path , charged with enthusiasm, nothing will sell, but you will feel great. I have heard of artists , when they break through to a new style, after a long career, destroy all their old paintings, they don`t want to be associated with their past. I personally would just change the signature that I put on the new style. Change the style and the name.

From: Janet Bowser — May 25, 2010

Your wife may not be on board with your painting, but I think that they are super! Don’t let someone else’s opinion steal your joy. Paint what you want and for yourself. One thing that helped me was to stop feeling bad about not selling my paintings and start donating them to local benefits which raise money for people who have illnesses and do not have insurance. We have had a lot of people having auctions to raise money for local cancer victims, families who have lost everything in fires, etc. and it helps me to be able to help them. You can see the joy on the faces of those who donate their own time to organize these benefits, they are encouraged because someone cares.

Be encouraged. I think a lot of people (myself included) paint as an alternative to therapy. If your wife wants to criticize, tell her to paint for herself before she starts judging you.

From: Paul deMarrais — May 25, 2010

I don’t think any artist has NOT had, at the very least, moments that echo Keith’s feelings about the artists life. For many who toil in the game of ‘making a living’ through art, the process can take a heavy toll. It would be a lot easier having a stable day job. Depression is serious business and I’m glad this artist is in treatment. I can only hope that the medicine and therapy will help alleviate the pain of the systemic hopelessness indicative of depression. Many artists have had bouts of depression. I’ve had a few myself. I’m under the gun in my art career like many artists and art galleries in this tough climate. My view at the present is that my artwork as a God given gift that I am trying to develop. I can only give my best effort and let the chips fall where they may. We need to assess our abilities and make the most out of them. I’ve found that I enjoy teaching, and have found there are many venues for it. I’m putting much energy into it and getting much energy out of it! I do a lot of demonstrating in my workshops. Demonstrating hones your skills and ideas and makes you sharp. It has shown me that it is the process of art making that I love, more so than the end result of that process. The process is like having a Ferrari in my driveway that I get to take for an occasional exhilarating spin. If I am having fun, the result is usually much better. I can’t make anyone love or buy one of my paintings, but if I am enjoying painting the odds of finding an appreciative viewer are much better. Achieving satisfaction is the difficult goal in an art career. Do we let others define our success? Do we compare ourselves to others and find ourselves lacking? What is success as an artist? Is it income or accolades? I have found that other people view me as more successful in art than I do myself. I’m trying to be more positive and easier on myself. I’m trying to tune out the naysayers { often the “well meaning’ in-laws and relatives!} It is odd how strangers are so much more supportive! In the end, we have to find satisfaction in the journey itself, try to enjoy each day and most of all to keep active. It is activity that is the greatest weapon against depression.

From: Carmen Beecher — May 25, 2010

This letter is so sad. Sometimes I get depressed thinking of all the years that passed by while I was raising children and working full-time for the government. Now I’m trying to catch up. I always painted, but I couldn’t really work at it properly then, and at least I have a paycheck while I’m pursuing my art at last. I also have a supportive husband. I really feel terrible for this man. The poignant quote by Vincent just about finished me off. I hope Mr. Wright continues on. I think it’s more of a marketing problem than a talent problem.

From: Theresa Bayer — May 25, 2010

Hi Keith,

Depression–been there, done that. Gid rid of it any way you can: counseling, meditation, meds, new age (I love Emotional Freedom Technique), whatever works for YOU.

Depression robs us of two of our important our mental resources: logic and intuition. Like the old saying “you can’t get there from here,” you can’t get into problem-solving mode when you’re depressed. Plus the tiniest little criticism feels like a punch in the nose, because thinking is distorted. Whereas if you’re feeling calm and confident, solutions will appear, the ones right under your nose that you cannot see if you’re depressed.

So please please do whatever you can to get your mind into the right place, and life will definitely improve. Your art is really good. Heck, if your thinking were as positive as your art is good, you’d be right as rain. You can do it, buddy!

From: Carol — May 25, 2010

While I can certainly understand Keith’s feelings of hopelessness, I must ask what is the purpose of work? I worked my whole lifetime in order to pay my bills and provide for my family. My ancestors did the same. Did we love our work? Not always…. that’s for sure, but it sustained our lives.

I look at young folks today who struggle trying to know what career path they should take. They are being taught that one must be happy in their job. Is that truly the function of work… to make us happy? Or do we sell a portion of our time in order to eat and have a roof over our heads?

I had to wait until retirement to find happiness in painting. Do I sell my paintings now??? Yes, to some degree, but certainly not enough to make a living. But, I can paint for the sheer joy of painting. I am not trying to make a living at it and feeling hopeless that I’m not succeeding.

We make choices in life and the need to support one’s family is (in my humble opinion) greater than happiness. We all are given 24 hours a day…. “selling” 8 hours of that time 5 days a week in order to survive seems to be the appropriate way to go.

From: Darlene — May 25, 2010

Keith, your paintings are beautiful! You must not listen to those who say otherwise. We are usually our own worst critics. To hear anything negative from others, I know can be devastating. Do you have a venue for showing your work, or for possibly painting where the public can watch? Even if on a street corner, the public loves to watch “an artist at work!” The fresh air is great, and you WILL receive wonderful positive feedback! We all need that!

Be encouraged and never quit! I have taught painting to private students for more than 30 years. YOU are very talented! Hopefully the world will soon discover you!

From: Joy Halsted — May 25, 2010

My favorite quote for that person’s feelings might help – it’s from Stuart Davis, who said “Every artist to persevere must have an enthusiastic audience of at least one.” That could apply to Van Gogh who’s brother was such a support, but also to oneself, if that is possible. As a working elderly artist, I’ve often had doubts, but not to work was worse than not getting recognized or appreciated. I have a website which handles the question “what kind of work do you do?” the answer being many.

From: Lesley — May 25, 2010

I would like to say to this to Keith, and I offer it with care and concern, because I know he has skill and that his presence ripples through his work…..If he wants his work to appeal to the masses, he may want to consider what connects us as humans, one to another. What do we love, and how do we feel? What do we want to say to alleviate one another’s pain, to raise people up? We recognize something great, something intangible yet reaching out to us, informing us of ourselves perhaps, in great works of Art. The question for us as artists, is this… Is our art about us, or is it about what connects us, reassuring us of our connection one to another, to life? If you want people to connect to you via your work, I believe this is a fundamental question worth considering. Keith, what would your work “feel like” not look like, if you wanted people to know what is amazing about ‘themselves’, mirroring life? How could you use your considerable skill and passion to inform them that we are all connected, creating great icons that illustrate your care… for them? I applaud you for not caving in to utilizing your skills to decorate for the masses. However, if we want to be considered “artists”, we have to be brave, like you are, but the great artists have always known, it’s not about ‘them’. The great artists are not selfish. They are a pure response to life, rather than the hungers of their own egos.

From: Louise Francke — May 25, 2010

Choosing art as my life time occupation because I wouldn’t know how to live if I didn’t express my life in oil and graphite. It has been a psychological challenge. My work ethic and optimism have currently gone into slomo since the psychological boosts have disappeared with this economy. When you don’t receive a compliment once in a while, or a sale, this life we have chosen to live does seem gray and not a starry moonlit night. However, I do find that when I work, my spirits rise and maybe the sun will come out soon. IN the mean time, I have chosen a new colorful theme for me: the harlequin.

From: Lisa Kirkman — May 25, 2010

How sad. Keith is driven, like so many artists, but I suggest he now give to receive satisfaction. The parable of the talents in the Bible always strikes me as an encouragement to my work. I create glass works using the “talents” and desire to create that I’ve been blessed with, while my admittedly more talented sister seems to think her call is to stay home caring for a countless number of cats. What a waste.

Keith is at least using his talent, but now he needs to take some of his pieces and give them to causes so they can raise money with his art – thus multiplying his efforts. He needs to give something to someone who’s ill to show they are thought of and that they are wished well. I give pieces to widows so they can remember a husband who’s just passed.

A few well distributed pieces will bring joy back into his work AND, it may also create recognition of his work that might eventually bring about a sale or two.

From: Donna Pierce-Clark — May 25, 2010

Keith’s work has great merit.

He has strong value and composition and exciting subject matter.

Is it possible he has just not advertised his work in the right places?

From: Ingrid Baker — May 25, 2010

Wow! I thought his artwork was great. What Keith needs is opportunity. I hope being featured in your article that he reaps some reward from putting himself out there for all of us to see. Let’s hope someone has a “lead” for him to follow that turns his life around.

From: Katherine Bishop — May 25, 2010

My dear fellow artist, I know how you feel. I have painted most of my life. Now I’ m 85 years old and have Parkinson’s, but I’m still painting. People say my paintings are beautiful and I agree, but I never had the backing of a good manager to promote my work. Not being one to toot my own horn, I have come to the end of my life not famous but at least I have the satisfaction of knowing that at least I have done what I wanted to do which is to paint what pleases me and if it pleases someone else I think I have not failed. I know a well known artist that I studied with who said,” You have to serve your apprenticeship. I taught in grade school then in collage, I entered ever show I possibly could and worked hard at getting established. Now, people know my name and buy my works because they know people will think they have good taste in art!”

From: Carl Nelson — May 25, 2010

Your willingness to take on letters such as these and give sound advice which travels no further than its extent keeps me reading your bi-weekly column. As a playwright, honest material such as this are the building blocks of my profession – and failure seems one of the biggest elephants in the current room of our cultural discourse.

From: Sharon Cory — May 25, 2010

You need to spend more time with other artists who will understand what you’re going through. You’re not far off in calling it an addiction, so start a 12-step group,Artists Anonymous, say. But not with the end goal of giving up the addiction. No, you need to spend time with people who get that what you’re doing is not only valid, but as necessary for life as breathing.

From: Anonymous — May 25, 2010

To Keith Wright,

I think the best artists often suffer from depression, which feeds the notion that your paintings destroyed you. Support from a spouse or friends would help greatly. But, please consider this; if you had not painted, you would not have enjoyed a single day of your life up to this time. You must have needed to paint, and found satisfaction and perhaps even joy in your process! Celebrate who you are, what you have been and don’t destroy the life you have left. You have currently let others convince you your paintings might be “bad”…but that is your sad ego and “ailing” belief in yourself. What is truth?

Decide what will make you happy today, tomorrow and follow through and getting treatment is essential.

I have been in that dark place and found shoving paint and slashing a canvas to aid to better work, better self esteem and a future.

The paintings and your life will just get brighter and better when you find your self-worth.

From: Linda Stewart — May 25, 2010

Ah…how sad for Keith. So much of what he expressed as his plight is , in my view, tangled up in the persistently common outlook that everything must make tons of money to be considered successful. Not so. How did we end up in a world that equates value only with high prices and tons of sales. It sucks the soul right out of even the strongest of creative types.

One does need to pay the bills of course, but there are ways to do that and still paint. One needs to be creative in all facets of life and learn to live/hang with like minded folks as well. We are all in our poverty together, those of us to live to paint….but to me it’s generally a happy place. There is such freedom in letting outside influences and opinions go.

From: Frances Stilwell — May 25, 2010

Keith really has control of his medium. He can go from hard-edged teddy-bears to dreamy landscapes. Wish I could do that.

From: Theresa Bayer — May 25, 2010

I have one more comment about depression, which I used to suffer from a lot. I still get occasional bouts of it, only now I don’t take it very seriously. I view it as similar to a headache, something that will pass. Depression has become “transparent” for me, and doesn’t feel as real to me anymore. I believe this is because of the many self-help techniques I have learned, such as journaling, EFT, and meditation to name a few.

Believe it or not, you can “snap out” of depression, if you know the right skills and techniques. It is possible to learn to have control over our thoughts and feelings, only it takes time and effort. The mind can be trained, just like a muscle.

From: Don Edwards — May 25, 2010

I see nothing wrong with the paintings, in fact they are quite nice. the portrait of the lady is very well done and I loved the Teddy Bears.. I expect he needs to enter some shows, pass out some cards, make sure his prices are right – and talk to people instead of sitting home and writing maudlin letters.

From: Colin Bell — May 25, 2010

I read Keith’s words with a lot of sympathy. Over the years I have sat through many group art shows where I have not sold a single piece of my art. One is tempted to question one’s competence as an artist. A true artist paints because it flows from the spirit, not for the hope of compensation. One’s art seldom, if ever, appeals to everybody, but it should appeal to the artist him/herself. That truthfulness to oneself is what defines one’s art, establishes one’s “style” and make’s one’s work distinguishable from that of other competent artists. So do not despair. Try to improve as an artist. Perfection is elusive, if it exists at all. One artist’s or viewer’s “perfection” will no doubt appear as a horror to another. One should listen to others’ opinions of one’s art with respect, but only respond to those words that resonate with one. If they do resonate, then one has something positive to think about and react to. Perfecting one’s art is a lifelong quest, and happily is never concluded.

From: Janice — May 25, 2010

The irony and tragedy parallel is beyond interesting, how much of what you get from readers do you take as ploys of advertisement, I think that for a lot of young artist the horror of it all is not ever profiting from the art. My marketing imagination has taken me to the new high rises in Iran, to the Trump towers, to Belize, the Philippines, and any number of other points around the world and here at home such as the southwest and a multitude of other stateside galleries. Fortunately for me I really do believe in my business slogan “We’re sure to have something that interest you”! though you may have just read the sum total of my business plan, it’s optimistic, some say that optimism makes things doable. Does it help to feed one optimism; maybe he needs a mistress (bad joke)? At any rate I’d give you an A in my psychological counseling class!

From: Natalie — May 25, 2010

Please let Keith know I was moved by his paintings.

The mountain scene is inspiring.

Keith, keep on keeping on.

From: Bette Lemke — May 25, 2010

Thanks Robert for posting the link to that most inspiring video of Vincent – I hope it raised Keith’s spirits as much as it raised mine!

From: Sharman Horwood — May 25, 2010

Keith, I love your landscape. It gives me that breath-taking sense of “being there.” Remember that the people who denigrate you are the ones who can’t do what you can do, and a room full of your paintings is a testament to your achievements.

From: Dorenda — May 25, 2010

Hi Keith…

Your work is good, it looks like you like to tell stories with your work, so maybe you are working in the wrong venue. Have you thought about being a free-lance illustrator? I combine my painting career (exhibitions, etc.) with free lance illustration projects (quite lucrative) and usually if you sell the rights to a piece on a one-time basis as an illustration someone invariably contacts you to purchase the original. It’s win-win. The only drawback is that you might have to agree to not publish the piece on a website until after it is used for whatever purpose intended…that is sometimes a pain, but worth it in the long run.

Check this out: http://www.societyillustrators.org/

From: John Crowther — May 25, 2010

I’m impressed by the breadth and depth of the comments here. Clearly this is an empathetic group with a genuine desire to reach out to Keith.

I think it’s important to recognize that although the depression and the lack of recognition as an artist impact on each other, they are nevertheless two mutually exclusive challenges that must be viewed independently. As Robert and others have suggested, Keith must continue to seek out help for depression and work to pinpoint the causes in order to ease the chronic emotional pain. It’s a terribly difficult journey.

The career path is another matter. Clearly Keith is a skilled painter, but really hasn’t given us enough information for us to understand what’s behind what he perceives as his persistent failure. Does he have gallery representation? If so, is it representation that has been effective for other artists? Has he had any shows, either solo or with other artists? Is pricing a factor in non-sales? Has he sought out a marketing consultant, or the expertise of successful artists? From his letter it would seem that his marketing efforts have been minimal, in which case the responses should take that into account. If, on the other hand, aggressive marketing has resulted in limited sales then the responses should reflect this, the answers should be different. We also know very little about Keith’s goals as a creative artist, beyond his desire to make commercially viable paintings of subject matter he likes. What is it about his subject matter that excites him? What does he have to express about his subject matter that is unique to him, so that his skillfully executed paintings don’t look like lots of other skillfully executed paintings of the same subject matter? What themes is he trying to explore? What are the technical problems he’s trying to solve? The four paintings shown don’t give us any clues, and herein may lie some of the problem.

Ironically, the answers to these questions, which we need to guide us in our responses to him may provide salvation from the psychological quicksand in which he’s struggling.

From: Gene Martin — May 25, 2010

Keith my first reaction to your work is they are well rendered but there is no joy/fire. I did a post a few years ago, on another site, where I said if it isn’t working for you then change something. Change subject matter, change your medium, change location but keep changing something until something DOES work. If your work brings you no joy then change is a start. There are a number of good painters in australia. check them out. Ross Paterson, who can be found on youtube.com, is a good start. Change your life, and I agree a change of wife is probably a good start.

From: Gregg H — May 26, 2010

Hi Keith,

Like you I have been creative all my life.

Also like you I have suffered from depression.

I know that my story isn’t yours, and my story may be anecdotal in nature, but I came through years of depression feeling nearly normal and mostly happy.

My story is after years of different depression medications, I finally weaned myself off all of them due to being fired and no insurance. The cure for me was leaving a job I was unhappy doing.

I have a new set of problems, ( no money ) and possibly losing my house, but my depression is mostly gone. Go figure.

I denied the fact that the graphics job was killing me inside, and I knew it all along, but I denied it all along and masked the symptoms with anti-depressants.

I should have listened to that inner voice years ago.

If there is something bothering you, address it.

About your art…..

You are a marvelous painter. Your work is better than most I see in the art fairs here around Chicago. Do not listen to the nay sayers. Your work is good and you know it and believe in it.

It really is not easy to sell art now. I have very successful artist friends who are struggling as you ( and I ) are. We sell wants not needs, and in this economic disaster we call a recession it is all the more difficult.

I really wish you the best, and keep painting! Keep that belief in yourself. Do not give up. Keep in mind the people who have seen your work, whether they be an art professor or a brick layer that love your art and tell you it’s good.

Shelf the negative comments. Write them down on paper and burn them once a week when you are lighting your charcoal!

Your work is good! Love the landscapes! I wish I could paint them as well.

From: Deborah — May 26, 2010

keep painting. keep doing what brings you pleasure. Stop asking your wife what she thinks. You don’t need her approval. It brings you happiness and give you peace while creating it. You do have talent. Maybe you should try selling online or creating giclees of your originals to sell as limited editions. By selling online you are not limited to just the area in which you live. Stay in therapy and continue to take your meds and things will start getting better. Try to create an outing for yourself to make connections with other creative people. Expand you horizons. You never know where it will lead you…..I stopped asking my soon to be EX-husband if he liked my work long ago….because he never did. he would hate an image and then it was selected for the cover of a magazine and he could never say anything nice. So, don’t set yourself up for a slap in the face. She probably does not have a creative bone in her body. Keep painting!

From: Ted Lederer — May 26, 2010

Regarding Mr. Wright’s heart wrenching comments:

Who among us hasn’t felt what this gentleman is expressing. If not with our careers, then a sense of unrequited love, missed opportunities –

A plethora of if onlys.

Here is an exercise, difficult though it is…. Express gratitude from the core of your being for what is. No judgments, no self pity, just sincere and profound gratitude for the gift of life and how lucky we are to have been given this unfathomable opportunity. This can’t be done once, but must be repeated until it becomes a part of who we are.

I promise you, there will be a shift. This gentleman may not sell more paintings, but something much more important might take place.

From: Anonymous — May 26, 2010

DON’T GIVE UP. I WAS EXPECTING SOMETHING REALLY DREADFUL. YOURS HAVE A SENSE OF HUMOR, STRIKING SUBJECT MATTER, AND ORIGINALITY. NOT EVERYONE MIGHT WANT TO HANG THEM OVER THE LIVING ROOM SOFA, BUT THEY ARE STILL GOOD! IF YOU ENJOY DOING IT….WELL THEN…CONTINUE!

From: Dorothy — May 26, 2010

My prayers are with Keith Wright that through counseling and perhaps medication, he will once again find his talent to be the marvelous gift that it is. From the few works you have put into your newsletter, it seems he is indeed enormously talented. Some artists never find a real market, yet their works are just as good as any shown (and purchased) in prominent galleries. It can be a matter of being in the right place at the right time or having that determination and drive and “I can do it” attitude that we have learned many now successful persons in the visual and performing acts were blessed with. I am truly sorry that Mr. Wright’s wife does not give him the encouragement and support he should have and hope that through counseling that will change. And for Heaven’s sake, Mr. Wright, your life has not been “wasted” and please don’t blame your art for “destroying” you. Though many of us have been given this gift, there are far more that would give anything to be able to make a blank canvas come alive with paint and brush as you do!

From: Francine — May 26, 2010

I just read the article about Keith Wright and felt a tremendous amount of compassion for him. His work can be in any gallery out there. As an artist also, and as I can only speak for myself, it seems I am so hard on myself at times that I can’t come up with one reason for continuing to do what I do. What’s it all for, what is it all about? What am I trying to say? What am I doing every day, tortured by my thoughts on having to create. It’s enough to make anyone want to just go back to bed. But if Keith is anything like me and I believe many other artists, we just have to keep doing what we do because it’s not a choice really. It’s what we do. For the past three weeks I’m having a similar struggle. I’m trying to accept that this is where I’m at today and maybe tomorrow. One more day on the roller coaster ride that is life. And shit happens. May just be Keith’s turn in the “bottom of the barrel” right now. We each have a turn, sooner or later. I do hope he continues to paint, to keep pushing forward if even to please no one but himself.

From: Teresa — May 26, 2010

Please send my best wishes and support to Keith Wright. I looked at his paintings and they are not hopeless. I also felt very depressed the last few days as I was struggling to finish off a painting in a new medium – encaustic and oil pastel. I’ve never tried these two mediums. I took a chance, I didn’t like the first composition and took another day to scrap off all the beeswax from a 18×24 canvas. At that point, I lost interest and something inside me drove me back to the drawing board. I started again and painted profusely for the whole day. Am I satisfied with it now? Part of the painting “yes”, the other part “ not quite”. I thought of giving up too and have moments of depression.

One way to fight “depression” is to take a deep breath and exhale ever so slowly. Walk away from it and relax your mind by working on some mundane house chores, or just sit in the garden and listen to the song birds. Is Keith painting for himself or for the purpose of showing and selling? He has to know. Yesterday, on Knowledge network there’s a documentary on Baroque architecture and painting. Boy, those are real masters. If one has to be depressed, just look at the paintings of the great masters and you are instantly degraded.

Painting is for enjoyment, a challenge to your creativity. Of course it helps if the paintings do sell because it’s like an instant boost to an artist’s confidence. I have seen worst paintings than Keith’s and there are buyers out there who will buy. The question for Keith is to check whether he is comparing his success to Vincent Van Gogh and Jan Meer. Remember both painters died in absolute poverty, a virtual unknown. If this is his goal, then maybe he’s setting it too high for now. He has the skills, use them wisely and maybe go and teach art to children. They are so appreciative and playful and totally enjoy their master piece. Why not adults?

From: John Burk — May 26, 2010

That it should be remembered we paint largely for ourselves, and hope others may notice and that our work is fruitful. Whether it is or it isn’t, we still gratify ourselves. My quick reaction is that you handle the medium in a painterly fashion. What I can’t tell is how well you are branding what you do by either technique or selective subject matter. If you wish to sell through a gallery, you have to organize your work into a “voice” that you can talk about; a coherent portfolio that is easy to package and make a show about.

From: Mike Barr — May 26, 2010

The fact is Robert is that art is not a proper career until you start making proper money from it…if thats your wish.

To expect the world to give you a living for painting for yourself and not them is a misplaced expectation. Buying art is a luxury….selling art to make a living belongs to the fortunate few who make it happen.

From: Beth — May 26, 2010

Press on, my friend. What you do is truly of value. The ability to create is a great gift. Try channeling your creative energy into related endeavors ( like writing, or doing signs, or teaching painting classes, etc). Scan the web, find kindred spirits, explore and take risks. As I recently wrote on my blog, depression is anger turned inward. Repressed anger/rage is often tied poor parenting when a child is denied their own feelings and thoughts. But for many of us as adults, it is when we are not acknowledged by our peers for our gifts and efforts. The trap is to want to be measured by people who have false notions about what is of true value.

From: Heather Boyd — May 26, 2010

I have viewed your website as well as the posted works and am impressed with your technical mastery of the subject matter. From your attention to detail I am assuming that you are an Obsessive Compulsive personality type, no this is not a disorder just a personality type. This is what I have tested as, so I understand your need for getting every leaf in place. I worked for 30 years in Accounting and have now returned to my first love which is creating art. You can take joy from the fact that you have spent 30 years doing what you love.

From: Heidi Goodhart — May 26, 2010

I’m not one to give unsolicited advice, nor do I necessarily have words of wisdom. I do believe, however, that despite judgment from the outside world – positive or negative, founded or unfounded – it is a wonderful gift being able to create, made even more wonderful when you love your art as you say you have. Perhaps one day you will be able to accept mostly the positive aspects it can give you.

From: Kay Paget — May 26, 2010

Unless working on a commission, we artists all paint for ourselves. Only one person can judge whether we have achieved what we ourselves actually set out to do, the only judge is you Keith, when it comes to evaluating your work.

Sometimes other people may criticize us when what they are actually doing is fighting their own feelings of jealously, because they believe they cannot paint or draw, or sculpt. I faced this problem with a former partner, but when I decided to go ahead and to it anyway, I succeeded. I don’t exhibit every single effort, and some are sitting behind me now, ‘awaiting divine intervention’ but I’ll get back to them, and I remind myself that I have done some amazing work, and some of the works I have sold, I thought weren’t so good but others loved them, (so even my own judgment of my own work isn’t always right).

Like an athlete, we have to keep practicing, keep training, and most importantly, keep playing – with colours and materials and shapes. Join a group and mix with like-minded painters and artists. Gently move, and spend some time with people who don’t pull you down but who acknowledge who you are and what you are painting. Get those works out there and into a community art exhibition, and “go with the flow”, see what happens – you will have some great surprises.

From: Christine Middleton — May 26, 2010

My feeling has always been if you feel you are hopeless then that is what you’ll be. If you feel you have a purpose you will go ever forward and upward.

From: Libbie Soffer — May 26, 2010

Dear Keith, having once been in despair over my chosen career as artist I’d like to share with you how I was able to get to the joyous place I deserved. I was able to “use” this temporary state of mind by starting a body of work coming from that very place of agony. Let it all hang out!! The journey to the next place is to be completely honest with your feelings and create the work from that very place of pain. Forget making nice pretty pictures and draw from that place where the soul resides alone. Forget trying to please people and bare your deepest fears. You obviously have skills. Now recreate yourself for yourself !

From: Dannielle — May 26, 2010

After reading this letter from Keith Wright I get the impression that there is allot of negativity in his life. He has a wife who does not support his creative vision. Perhaps if he changed his outlook on life and surrounded himself with positive people he would start to attract positive results. The universe can only bring to you what you put out there. Just a thought.

From: Lorraine Khachatourians — May 26, 2010
From: Catherine, USA — May 26, 2010

Keith, I love your artwork, and to me, it is *very* professional! I most certainly can see the progress you have made, in being able to paint realistically and, at the same time, convey mood/atmosphere and feeling. It seems to me that there certainly should be a market for your work!! Your teddy bears are priceless, and I’d bet there are people who would love to have them. Same with the landscape. Don’t give up! You just need to find the right audience(s), people to buy your very accomplished work!

I feel for you, with your depression. I battle depression too, and it is very hard. It gives me courage and a lift to see that you shared like this. Seriously, thank you.

From: Pearl Taylor — May 27, 2010

Perfected technique as is apparent. Could it be the subject matter that makes people feel a bit uncomfortable? I think your paintings are for the future rather than the now, when people can see them as a commentary on a struggling society. People now want comfort and reassurance, not a questioning of their values…

Keep them together as a collection and write accompanying text to explain your feelings about the world you are living in. You have vision and are just understandably frustrated at not being able to communicate to those around you. I think you are doing an important task …. keep going!!

From: Rosie Jones — May 27, 2010

Hello Keith from a fellow Aussie artist.

I’m sorry for the suffering that you have endured over the years from depression. Your work is beautiful and I enjoy the misty blues of your landscapes and your sassy portrayal of the women. We live in the Byron Bay area where art is highly valued (maybe not always in a financial sense!) and appreciated. It has brought me a lot of joy to move from an inland rural area to Byron Bay where I can immerse myself in the art world at my leisure but I know it does not necessarily follow for other parts of Australia.

My husband Peter is teaching a workshop here in the middle of June entitled “Rediscover Your Mojo”. It might be just what the doctor ordered! His website is www.pgjones.com

I wish you well and that the glimmer of hope is rekindled for you soon.

From: Kathy — May 27, 2010
From: John — May 27, 2010

Keith, assuming that your letter is an honest and unexaggerated expression of your feelings, and that Robert has fairly excerpted it, you might consider giving up art for a trial period and leaving your wife, too. I say that because your feelings about your art are so negative that continuing it may actually be a destructive force. As for living with a denigrating spouse, that must certainly aggravate the situation. Of course, you should continue treating for depression.

From: Elizabeth Sartell Beamer — May 27, 2010
From: Monica — May 27, 2010

Sharing this lovely poem by Pablo Neruda. It is what I come back to when I get into my negative side. Be kind to yourself. Keep painting.

If each day falls

Inside each night,

There exists a well

Where clarity is imprisoned.

We need to sit on the rim

Of the well of darkness

And fish for fallen light

With patience.

From: Catherine D. — May 27, 2010

Regardless of what your wife or others think about your work, please believe that you are a very talented artist. Despite your struggles, creating these beautifully finished pieces of art under difficult circumstances shows what you are capable of. Please continue to pursue your muse in the way that suits you best. Your style is great, and I really like the calm and uncluttered subject matter. My favourite of the pieces above is the one of the lady with the stockings.

Kathy, has a true understanding of depression, as do I. My daughter (also an artist) lives with it also, and my role in all of this is simply to be her supporter when she needs one. I do not doubt that even though your wife may not appreciate your art at all times, that she is also a supporter for you. I have no advice for you, as you have heard it all already. I’d just ask you to believe in yourself and don’t deprive the world of your art.

From: Caroline Simmill — May 27, 2010

I wonder why Keith hasn’t tried to find the right selling market for his artistic expression, you don’t mention if he has approached galleries to try and sell his work. If he has a studio full of work as fine as the ones you have shown here today he deserves to have an income from his talent. I was half expecting before seeing his work to see little skill or ability to paint well, so it was a surprise to see such powerful work. As an artist it is important to join art societies, talk to fellow artists and even get a critique to try and get some feedback and support on your artwork. It is often very difficult to judge the standard of our own work. We do need support as the road an artist travels can be long and very lonely. I don’t think spouses can be the right people to judge our artwork, I know my husband really likes some of my work but has been very surprised at how some artworks of mine that have sold he didn’t like at all! It is also hard for spouses to get used to the uncertainty of when the next payment will come in for a sold work and for those days and nights when an artist just has to work on a painting instead of spending time with their partner! I wish him luck in his artistic career.

From: Mark Sharp — May 27, 2010

Keith, here’s my advice that would affect both parts of your life.

No matter your age, begin on a serious jogging then running or biking program regularly. Building to 30-40 minutes of jogging or an hour of solid riding daily. Go on a strict cleansing style of eating for a few months and visit a naturopath for advice on a few supplements. Also try to find an infra red sauna that you can use post workout for 30 minutes. Doing this will dramatically improve your depression. Believe in it because it works. You will feel that you have woken up and you can see again.

The next thing to do Keith is to paint as though you were someone else. Paint in bright, bright colors, strokes you never use, colors you never use, paint with knives, sponges etc. with stark contrasting between colors. Don’t stick to any rules that you might be use to. Gum trees can be pink if you want. More than likely you’ve tried it all but I think you are too skilled to be feeling the way you do. You haven’t wasted your life mate.

You live in a great place and you have the creative gift that I am sure has touched many, many people over the years.

From: Anne Copeland — May 27, 2010

I will say that I have never had a lot of fans (if any) for my art work, but what I have learned is that it is most important for me to feel good about what I have done with my artwork. I am not a competitive person so don’t care if I get into shows or not. I DO sell my work on occasion, but not through really trying. Sometimes people just see it and want to buy it. But the most important part to remember is to be true to yourself no matter whether anyone else says anything about your art or not. To me, you are already a winner just by doing what you love best. Some people never ever even dream of starting something creative, so when you feel down, put your right hand on your left shoulder, and your left hand on your right shoulder and give yourself a big hug and congratulate yourself for being a winner!

From: A. Nony Mous — May 27, 2010

I suggest you have an affair with someone who is wild about you and your work. Then re-evaluate.

From: Virginia Maxfield — May 27, 2010

Hi, Keith,

I read your message on Robert Genn’s Twice Weekly email and wanted to say hello. I too have been an artist (painter) for over 30 years and seldom sell a piece. I’ve taken anti-depressants, seen so many counselors I can’t count them, and tried all the self help books.

It seems from your note that your primary concern might be that you haven’t yet “made it” in the art world. Is that correct? Or is that you’re worried about finances and are thinking you should abandon art and get some kind of job? Well, I’ve been there too and here is what I have decided about it all:

1. Being an artist is a gift. Doesn’t matter whether one believes in a Creator or not – it’s a gift from somewhere. And, just as you would not reject an important gift from a loved one, this gift must be seen, and treated, as sacred. The making of money, and the recognition from the art world is not the important thing here – it’s that you were born with, and developed, a gift. Don’t stop making art.

2. No matter what’s going on, there’s something to be grateful for. I know, this is tough when the whole world seems to have gone to hell and you’re not sure what the point is in living. In my deepest depression, I spent a week in a closet of my apartment. I took my blanket and a pillow and slept and cried in that closet. Went out to the bathroom -but I don’t remember eating. Then one day I woke up and thought, “I just spent a week in a closet!” and it struck me as mighty funny. I couldn’t stop laughing at the whole spectacle. So what is it, Keith, that makes you smile – even a little? The taste of a ripe peach, two colors that look just perfect next to one another, walking outside? Find it and write it down. Then do it the next day, and the next. I have a whole gratitude book now.

3. If you have to earn money, do something besides art to pay the bills. Anything like working in a gallery or for a non profit arts group is out because you make so little cash and all you’re reminded of is that other people’s art is selling. So what can you do? Do you know carpentry? Be a handyman. Can you teach a class? Make it happen. Whatever your other interests or hobbies are, they can be a source of some income. I teach classes to kids but not in art – more like crafts or gifts for their parents. It’s easy and fun and I get to be around kids.

4. Don’t isolate yourself. The last thing I wanted to do when I was most depressed was see another human being. But I found that it was other people (like the kids in my classes, and their parents) who got me outside myself and back into life. An added benefit is that, if you teach something in your own home or studio, people will see your work. Potential clients. Keep yourself out in the world.

5. Get creative in marketing yourself. Yeccch! I hate this stuff. But I’m now working on getting a low-cost website together and we’ll see if that works. Also I rented a gallery space and am having my own one person show. Don’t know if I’ll sell a thing but I’m putting it out there. When you do these things, you’re forced to look at your art, put it in categories, select your best pieces, prepare them for exhibition, and put a nice cohesive show together. I used to do this in my own home. Took everything off the walls and hung art everywhere including the kitchen. Made invitations on a copy machine and told everyone about my show. People will begin to remember you, and your work, if you put it out there in front of them on a regular basis.

Okay, gotta go paint. I wish you luck and hope you won’t ever stop making art. It’s such an honorable profession. Oh, check out Stewart Cubley – his method of painting is so freeing no matter what you like to paint.

Virginia

From: Rudolf, Vancouver, BC Canada — May 27, 2010

I like your mountainous valley and the girl with the nylons. There’s nothing wrong with your work. Have you ever checked out eBay selling? I met a guy who was selling quite well, in fact he found he had too many orders and couldn’t keep up, and quit painting. His work was not nearly as good as yours and was going for as much as $2,000 Canadian. He wrapped it up, sent it in a hard mailing tube, and apparently sold a lot to Americans living on the East coast. Other than that, I can suggest reading the Shameful Life of Salvador Dali. Also the artists of old used to get together to hash over both their painting and their lives, and this can be a good thing to help redirect yourself and get into better spirits. I think we have to kind of force our art on others if we are not succeeding at the moment. Every so often someone will notice and regard our work with respect. Also, make prints of your work and sell those every day to people who don’t want to buy originals.

From: Gavin Calf — May 28, 2010

Hello Keith, Try joining a live model painting group if you have not already done so. Your work is “there” technically. You need Viva. (Life). And try ignoring your wife on the matter if it is possible. Good luck mate!

From: Gavin Calf — May 28, 2010

To Nony Mouse, I was lucky number one divorced me. My wonderful new wife adores my work and smiles when I hire my own models to paint! Say to dear Keith, ‘There is hope!’

From: Sarah Clegg — May 28, 2010

Keith, I have a simple piece of advice for you… Stop looking inwards and start looking outwards. The world is full of self-obsessed artists who aren’t selling, and if you want things to change, then you have to change. Sorry if this sounds harsh, but I have been where you are now, and there is no point in wallowing in it – the only way is up and out!

From: JUDY GRIFFITHS — May 28, 2010

KEITH,

ALL I CAN SAY IS —–WOW–!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH YOUR ART.—YOU JUST NEED SOME PROMOTING—GET YOURSELF INTO THE LOCAL NEWS–TRY SOME MAGAZINES–ADVERTISE–TAKE YOU PAINTINGS TO GALLERIES.

From: Kathleen Newman — May 28, 2010

Keith, you have to believe you are a competent artist. Have you tried using your artistic talents for the good of others? I paint seriously (tho mostly as a creative past-time) but also work as a volunteer in a hospital art therapy program in Edmonton, Canada. It has been a very rewarding experience as well as helping me develop as an artist. Something like this could add a dimension to your life and give you a better feeling about yourself.

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — May 28, 2010

After crawling out of the worst period in my life- a few years later I had a relationship experience trigger what I came to understand as my ‘I’m not good enough’ pattern. Artists often carry this pattern into this lifetime. A few years after that another relationship experience triggered it again- when I thought I’d figured it out and finished with it. Out of that experience came this poem:

way out

angel of death- my guardian dear

i close my eyes and see you near

old friend- new friend- call my name

that time- this time come again

angel of death- i look within

i see your face- i see my end

i came- i ran this human race

could it be time to leave this place?

angel of death- my one companion

i must release feeling abandoned

come- pick me up and take me home

let me cease- no more to roam

angel of death- i’m committed to you

nowhere to go- nothing to do

stop on by- i await your knock

walk right in- my door’s unlocked

angel of death- i know my grief

help me please- i seek relief

i know that peace is also here

a simple task- let go of fear

angel of death- it’s just a game

to win- to lose- fortune or fame

i know that it’s all an illusion

has this life reached its conclusion?

angel of death- please come today

love me- heal me- light my way

you know i’m ready- have been for years

don’t want to stay- too many tears

angel of death- i merge with you

that’s the way to see me through

this side- that side- all the same

i call to you- i speak your name

angel of death- come blow your horn

this time i seek to be reborn

reborn as light and not as matter

from the former to the latter

angel of death- i followed my plan

created my art- became what i am

found my self-worth amidst the trauma

died again and again- rewrote the drama

angel of death- i surrender the play

there’s nothing left with which to pay

i’ve struggled enough- it’s time to go

fly me away and end this show

angel of death- with reason and rhyme

have i not yet completed this lifetime?

i seek an ending to all my pain

it must be freedom i will gain

angel of death- i’ve not given up

but i will not fight- so fill my cup

come to my home- visit me now

oh- i forgot… i’m homeless- somehow

angel of death- i’ve a broken heart

at least i’ve left behind my art

angel of death- i call your name

funny- somehow- my name’s the same

angel of death- my oldest friend

my one true love- is this the end?

the mirror shows a face that’s mine

your face too- angel divine

© 1998 J. Bruce Wilcox

From: Suzette Fram — May 28, 2010

Reading Keith’s story, 3 things come to mind:

First, about his wife, we don’t know enoug about his life to fully understand, but what if his wife has supported him (financially) for the past 30 years while he pursues his dream? I can certainly see how she might have become bitter and unsupportive. Working hard at a job she hates, maybe she’d like a chance to pursue her dream too, but she can’t because she’s supporting both of them.

Secondly, and that follows the first point, life is not just about dreaming and wishing. One must be realistic. The first thing we have to do is put food on the table. We cannot expect others to take care of us while we pursue the dream. Married people need to do for each other, fill each other needs. Perhaps if Keith took a job and contributed to the household, he would feel better about himself and his relationship would improve. He can still paint and pursue the dream, but in a more responsible adult way.

Finally, the third point is this: wanting to be a successful painter is a bit like wanting to be a singer, or an actor. Many talented people will never make it, for a number of reasons that have to do with life being what it is, lack of opportunities, more supply than demand, not being at the right place at the right time, etc. All we can do is work hard and paint for ourselves, and hope that we will experience SOME success. The satisfaction has to come from inside, or we are in trouble. And besides, the reality of the marketplace today is that it’s almost impossible to become REALLY successful. There are just too many good painters around, and not enough buyers. The days when being good was good enough are long gone.

Good luck, Keith.

From: Win Gressley — May 28, 2010

As a young person I expected to be a writer. Years later I had an opportunity to focus on a project and wrote much of a mystery novel. I was fortunate in that the work was sufficient that I might have been able to get it published, but I found that I hated the work. It was difficult and lonely going. A decade after that– and deeper into my “day job”– I ran across the old dot matrix print-outs and several big old floppy disks. My initial opinion was partially validated. It was not bad work, but it was hack work with cleverness instead of creativity. Had it been successful, I’d have probably tried another, and eventually run dry, or have been relegated to typing formulaic stories with no depth at all. That’s what I could do after years of education, late nights of pounding a keyboard, and that six month sprint (when my day job yielded to my imagination, and I wrote intensively). I am very fortunate that I did not continue. On the other hand, I love the process of painting. What’s more is that I can’t figure out if I’m clever, dextrous, talented, or merely teachable. I know that I won’t be supported by my painting. But I really don’t care, because the process is so infinitely engaging. Perhaps Keith has had bad luck. Perhaps the market is too small or too quirky or too arbitrary to support his work. When you attempt something as risk filled as becoming a professional painter, there is always the possibility of failure. Too many adamantine presumptions about how life should or will play out is dangerous. Keith, unfortunately, didn’t have the epiphany that said “this wasn’t meant to be,” as did I. As rudimentary as mine was, it saved me from a pile of misery. I wish he’d had the insight, or had harkened to it. What he needs now, as has been said elsewhere, is professional help with managing his depression, his emotions, and his life situation. This stuff is too complicated and too important to go it alone.

From: Sherrill — May 28, 2010

I think this artist just has not been seen by the right people. Much of success (appreciation and financial reward) is through the more pragmatic efforts of marketing, exposure, competitions, art societies, etc. I would say take a deep breath and keep on painting.

From: Betty — May 28, 2010

Wow, what a lot of activity following your letter, Keith. I will not repeat the wealth of experience and comment of my fellow artists above. I suggest you take (physically put in a place of honor) the suggestions above that light your fire (artistically and for your self worth).

I just retired as a teacher (after 40 years), and have been collecting and saving notes from students and parents that made me feel I was accomplishing something worthwhile. I have pulled them out on many a bad day to regain my sense of self professionally. But my passion has always been art. I found ways to integrate it into my job and “free time.” Now I do it all the time!

Hanging around local museums and art centers has helped to get me known as an art lover, culminating in art presentations of one or two pieces. I also enter every contest/show that I find, but I am not famous. As with teaching, when my art is appreciated, I feel joy.

Good Luck to you!

PS. I am single and bipolar and work in textiles!

From: J. Bruce Wilcox — May 29, 2010

To Suzette Fram: Unfortunately- both your gender perception and bias are showing…

Why is it perfectly OK for a female to EXPECT her male partner to support her in her creative expression- but not equally OK for a male to expect his female partner to support him in his creative expression?

Too bad if she has done so for 30 years and is now bitter. The life of an artist remains difficult at best. People should get this up front and not marry into an artist’s family unless they understand that. Oh- but that’s right- hormones and sex work their magic regardless of whether your an artist or not- male or female or not…

From: Adria Klausner — May 29, 2010

I loved the “Starry, Starry Night” video. For a long time, I have been wondering who would eventually make a movie about Van Gogh using “Starry, Starry Night” as a theme song. Too bad our present video technology does not permit us to reproduce the true colors and depths of the original paintings. Maybe one day!

From: Mary Jane Q Cross — May 30, 2010

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick,”… as artists we tend to be dope-less hope fiends. My artist and woman’s heart has be sick at times because of expectations hoped for and not achieved. It is a downward spiraling viewpoint.

The second half of that thought, and yes it is a bit of wisdom from Proverbs, is ..”But desire fulfilled is a tree of life”. As an artist ,painting is doing one of the deepest unexplainable desires of the heart in existence.(the upward spiral and regardless of the outcome, you have been faithful to that for 30 years!) People die for the want of relevance in life. The desire to paint is our real gift as artists, not necessarily talent. We then connect and feed others with paintings of our wit, (your bears) passion or heart at rest. (your landscapes)

My experience has been expectations get us into trouble every time, and should be focused on perhaps lightly.

Your desperately raw, honest, vulnerable and lovely letter, in case you haven’t noticed, has caused an outpouring larger than usual. You and Vincent, in this magnificent family of painters who spend our lives, our desires (desire fulfilled IS a tree of life) that bloom in the lives of others., some early , some late, is all a vital outpouring., of who we were made.

Keith it would be nice to have you post again to hear of your response to some of this. Perhaps it can be continued in a blog?

I also have a good idea of marketing that you may not have thought of. www.maryjaneqcross.com

You wrote out of a heart stopping vital part of yourself, it may also be where you will yet paint from. I have learned much from these posts. Thanks Robert Genn.

From: Robin d’Arcy Shillcock — May 30, 2010

As an artist you may lead an egotistic life if you live it solely and purposefully for yourself. I do not know the ins and outs of my countryman Keith Wright’s life, but he states that he paints strictly for himself. Fine, so do I, and don’t we all? But what we do has to be seen or we are not “artists” in the public eye. A great truth lies behind the accolade “artist”: Art ought to be a way of communicating with others. So you have to put part of your energies into showing your work. Rarely do we get our kudos handed on a silver platter so yes, it may be an uphill struggle. When I was still a student at the academy, I looked up older artists, some of them battle-scarred and ancient, and they gave me an inkling of what an artist’s life may look like. So I knew what I was getting into. It may happen that I complain, but very, very rarely, because I feel so lucky to be able to do what I love doing.

Keith’s despondency appears to point to a more extreme condition, to depression. That may have more to do with his life than with his painting. A wife’s opinion of her husband may be changed by how others respond to the work. I’m guessing he is not a professional, so this arrow may miss the mark: but sales may help as well. It will definitely change your wife’s opinion of you if you manage to sell well! Selling is no medicine to the sick mind, but it strokes the ego, and pays for painting gear. Response, be it in words or in pecuniae, is a positive thing. Count your blessings!

Yes, we are alone in what we strive for. However, even on that solitary path, if you manage to share your passions with others, you are less alone. Look for other artists to share your passions with, it boosts the soul to be respected by peers. Sharing what you do with others is justification enough for a life spent in the arts.

From: Sharon Allred — May 31, 2010
From: Mars — May 31, 2010

Keith–think most of us–have been– or are there. Fine work U have–it just needs work– promoting– which in it’self is an art! I started out- trying 2 get into the fro–of–selling–more– etc. etc.–but found I just don’t have the energy anymore– it takes alot of running around–& knowing people! The ones closest 2 us- never do see the goodness in our art. I never hear any compliment or otherwise from my family–don’t even mention art 2 them. Same thing with my love of -space–as in planets etc.– have no one 2 talk 2 about -such– so–both- are lonely lives–& if one wants 2 persue them– have 2 live with it.As 4 painting– just carry on–it’s alonely life & time!!! If U really want 2 sell- it’s a 24-7 hr. job-of letting people know.

From: Elizabeth Westmark — May 31, 2010

Your book, The Twice-Weekly Letters, is like an eloquent, quiet friend to me. Ever since it arrived, I carry it around like a new puppy, even in the car in case I might have a few minutes to wait somewhere. I cannot imagine a better help-mate for artists of all stripes, including me, a writer. In addition, the book is …beautiful.

From: Marni California — Jun 13, 2010

Dear Keith, Reading your story I wish you all the best. I hope you will be able to sort your depression because it’s the inside that is most important; you could be the most financially successful artist on the planet, but if your mind is ill, it won’t make a blind bit of difference. Please take care & don’t give up! With all best wishes from Cymru – as we say here, hwyl fawr, big spirit!

From: Tom Bisesti — Jun 14, 2010

I’ve been an artist for 48 years. There was a time when I couldn’t sell any work and it just piled up in my storage mocking me. I felt angry, depressed, and useless. I decided that if I didn’t paint, then the world couldn’t reject me.It worked great! Except that I felt hollow and empty–and I wish I had that time back again.

Art is not what we do, it’s who we are. In order to be able to do what we do, we have to be sensitive. Ironically that’s also the very thing that un-does us. We have been entrusted with a very precious gift. The rest of the world only wishes it could do what we can.

You’re not alone

Best of luck brother!

From: Livi — Sep 24, 2010

I find that to paint you have to isolate yourself and people can lose sanity on desert islands.

It is not the art but attitude towards it. The multitude of people these days are too busy clinging on to their own goals to be bothered about who is swimming along beside them less so who is drowning.

If you enjoy what you are doing then why stop you are looking at what you don’t have and not what you have. There is a lot of artists that would love a studio.

Look at things with a painters eye and try another angle maybe you could paint some hope.

From: Daniela Ionesco — Apr 06, 2011

Yesterday I had the time to read this letter and all the comments,

severe depression is a very sensible subject for a painter as more than one go into it.

I wonder what happens now with Keith Wright , I saw some of his work in a gallery on Internet, I saw he have an account on Facebook but only few contacts (5 if I remember well) and no activity from last year, his site don’t function, I wonder is he still alive, I hope, Is he still painting his landscapes ?

I did take his words in his letter more as a conclusion of life time given to a activity and that seams be with no recognition;

yes we all dream about the power of the art itself to express ourselves and we like to think that the public must understand our efforts by itself, no need to make a promotion and to invest a huge effort into what is no Art. This may be true for already known and dead artists but for the rest of us, if you want to be known by the public you have to show your work, if not, you may accept your position in a shadow for a time but one day or another the work have to be seen by the public and the consideration and critics come with it.Is like this, if you have people that appreciate your work you will, no doubt,have also people that would not like at all what you are doing and each artist have to consider in which measure he will show his work or not , in which way and when.

But , if the appreciation of the public is important and related to the survival when you don’t know and you can’t do anything else, still, the most important remains the fact that you enjoy doing your art and should be the main factor to continue this activity or to change it to something else, perhaps even much easier to do and that would eventually bring more money for the family than the artistic activity.The biggest drama is when you can’t do anything else , from the inside and you arrive in this position, not having any replacement solution.

Medicine can be good for depression and is necessary but it have it’s secondary negative effects.

Keith Wright work in oils as I saw, I don’t know the technique but I know that the toxicity of it may be harmful, than we should all be careful about that. There are also a lot of attention that have to be given to the style of life and the way we work, is not anodyne all that.

There are many good advises in the comments, good especially as prevention but for a strong and painful depression almost all of them are useless, when you suffer like that you can’t be in the strength of doing a self promotion or having many contacts or doing much of what ever, you are diminished and if you don’t have people around you that would understand how ill you are and give you a help you can’t do what you should do to save your life. Only if your depression became less severe and after years and years , eventually you can organize your life, understand what happens to you and do as you can what you have to do. I am not sure that real depression can be healed but with the medicine, with the people that would understand you, with a well and healthy organized life you can arrive to have an almost normal life. We have to accept our condition with serenity and modesty, is obvious that having a depressed state of mind and state of spirit you can’t act as you would be in a normal condition, than just don’t ask your self more than you can give and don’t care much about recognition and posterity, an artist would better care about quality and sincerity between others.

I like your landscapes Mr Keith Wright and hope you are at least a little better and that you continue to paint. It would be good if you show more of your work on Internet, there are ways to do it for free or almost free (except the Internet connection).

Also, perhaps being on Facebook and making friends of other painters, trying to discuss with them would be a good way to go out of the solitude,try to keep your wife out of your work problems discuss them with your friends painters and if she did support you for many years, especially in your depressive condition you better try to listen to his advises and take what you consider as good.If she take care of you be grateful for that even if is not what you expect from her, consider that depression take you a part of your discernment as any great pain does and let all the great decisions for later on when you will be very clear about what to do and what you want to do with your life.

I understand perfectly how strong fight for life can be your condition, do the best to resist and recover your strength, even partially is something good. I would also say, don’t be afraid to explore new styles or do paint things that you didn’t before, it may also help you to heal. Experimenting is very pleasant even if it take only a part of the time, working faster or slower , in different way than until a certain point can also be a good thing to move us further . Don’t give up, first of all in your spirit and after that for your life and work that seams to be very close related.All the best .

From: valerie norberry vanorden — Mar 14, 2013

“Better is a live dog than a dead lion”. Solomon, the Proverbs. Better to be alive and be miniscule in the world’s eyes than dead and a rock star. I just hope my work can net enough worth to pay for a really righteous party after I’m gone (and net my hubby a 2nd caretaker of sorts)…I’d like for my work to pay for the funeral and on and on. “Better to be poorly thought of and have a servant than to have a high opinion of yourself and be poor”. Proverbs again.

 

 

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