Worried about income


Dear Artist,

Yesterday, James Harris of New Lenox, IL, USA, wrote, “I’ve always dabbled in art, but now I’m looking to make the transition to my dream of being an artist. It’s been said that your income will never be larger than the average of the income of your five closest friends. If this is true and I do believe it is, how do we as artists develop a mastermind group to challenge us, hold us accountable, and see our income increase? I believe the income is a by-product of hard work, setting goals, networking, and associations. Does this group need to be made up totally of artists? Does it need to be in person or could this be a virtual group?”

Thanks, James. I’ve never heard of such a thing as not making more than your five best friends. Sounds like nonsense to me. The wonderful thing about fine art, as opposed to more pedestrian businesses, is that the making of art is already perceived to be valuable — not like the making of donuts, hamburgers, or hangnail clippers (and other practical widgets). Given time, a properly-run life in art can build to such outrageous monetary levels you have to slap yourself hard to contain your hubris.

As a matter of fact, all this worry about income misses the point. You are right about hard work, setting goals, and networking, but other things are of equal importance, including proficiency, efficiency, and purposeful exploration.

Any amount of actuarial income-projection does not stand a chance against the singular development of a uniquely creative style and direction you can get into, live inside, and enjoy daily. When this happens, the coinage is automatically shaken from the money tree.

Evolved work attracts the attention of others in the position to share. Talented in their own way, proper art dealers will go to work for you daily and make your dreams possible. You can do what you want — even go golfing — with your other friends, virtual or real, poor or wealthy.

Regarding those who challenge and hold you accountable, only one friend is needed for this job. He must be a person with a lot of character. He is yourself. You may find him critical or cranky at times, but he means well. Leave your other friends to keep track of themselves. They’re probably too self-occupied to worry about you, anyway.

Best regards,


PS: “If you have anything really valuable to contribute to the world it will come through the expression of your own personality, that single spark of divinity that sets you off and makes you different from every other living creature.” (Bruce Barton)

Esoterica: The more I study the successes of self-actualized artists, the more I come to understand how they value themselves. People with a decent amount of self-esteem tend to find quality within their work and within their lives. It’s this trust of the universe that leads to great art, great fortune and great happiness. “Deal with yourself as an individual worthy of respect and make everyone else deal with you the same way.” (Nikki Giovanni)


The tyranny of ‘twice’
by Gordon Portman

The evidence is all around me that having a signature style sells, builds reputation, solidifies career, all that stuff that we all shoot for. I can objectively see the value of it, and can certainly see the value of it to the careers of a lot of successful artists.

My problem is I don’t like creating the same thing twice… I don’t like cooking the same thing twice, I don’t like writing in the same style twice, I don’t like telling the same story twice. It’s a gut thing, an intentional thing, if I try to recreate a “style” from one work to another it feels stale and uninteresting, and chances are I barely get started, let alone finish. So is it something I just power through, make myself do no matter what? If so, where’s the creativity? How do I make myself do something (i.e. create a signature style and/or perspective) through a practice that seems to go against the instinctual grain? Maybe I’m just exploring to FIND my “signature style” … either that or I’m creatively ADD. I’d appreciate any thoughts you might have.

(RG note) Thanks, Gordon. You should note I said “style and direction.” When you develop a direction, you can run with combinations that are forever varying, with satisfying surprises and epiphanies. While expectations within this process can be unrealistic for some artists, the style evolution that follows is somewhat automatic.

There is 1 comment for The tyranny of ‘twice’ by Gordon Portman

From: Lisabeth — Nov 06, 2009

I am a 62-year-old woman, who began pressing seaweed and flowers and making pictures five years ago when we moved to the CT shoreline. I am represented by a gallery, have shows of my pictures, sell my work and receive commissions. A month ago I gave my first pressed flower workshop at a local Art Center. I am booked for two more in Feb. and March. Never thought of myself as a teacher, but I had so much fun! You never know what will happen unless you try!


Making the switch
by Lanie Frick, Licking MO, USA


original painting
by Lanie Frick

I made the transition to full time artist 6 years ago from 20 years self-employed sign/graphics business.  So, you need to ask yourself… Are people wanting to buy my work? Am I self-motivated enough to be self-employed? Do I like to market, be organized and efficient? This will be very important if you’ve never been self-employed. The next best thing I did to benefit my art career (besides buying the book The Painters Keys) is buy the book I’d Rather Be In The Studio by Alyson Stanfield. Very valuable marketing and organizing information. I’ve also taken some of her online workshops and they’re great. Finally, make sure you get the best quality photos of your work possible and file them. Keep good records that are easy to get to and go through.

There is 1 comment for Making the switch by Lanie Frick

From: Virginia Wieringa — Nov 06, 2009

Well said, Lanie! Good advice. First you have to have a product people want to buy, but the organization component is just as important!! Stay on top of your mileage and income and expense ledger.


Be the exception to the rule
by Bill Curtis, Alexandria, VA, USA

The business about not making more than your five best friends is a valid statistic, but it doesn’t say you will never make more. It only indicates that most of us tend toward the average. We must be ever vigilant as to how we interpret statistics. It is easy to understand how this might work being that we tend (there’s that word again) to think similarly to our closest friends, and consequently manage to make very similar decisions and take very similar actions. Seize the day Mr. Harris and break out! If we’re going to be statistics, be the exception not the rule! Don’t settle!


The leap pays off
by Brenda Jacobsen, CT, USA


“Barn at DHS”
original painting
by Brenda Jacobsen

In September I took a first step with a few oil paintings and put them in a storefront for two weeks as part of an Art Celebration — out of that I sold a painting for several hundred dollars. I felt naked showing my work, but I took a leap and it paid off. I love to paint and draw. Would there be actual buyers for my work? I had better test the waters — that was my motivation.

That same week I read about an art fund raiser (paint local barns), and while it was for “prominent artists in the area” I emailed the organization and they let me join. I painted for a few weeks and entered two paintings and one sold again to complete strangers, which I think is a compliment. In fact, only 20 out of 100 paintings sold. Again, the organization received part of the money but I still get my name out there. Now I have three commissions which will help pay for more paint supplies and a few bills before Christmas. I am not rolling in cash but I would be a fool not to feel encouraged — to keep on going. There are bumps in the road but I have to agree — I can worry about money or the lack of my job or I can get busy and create art that I am drawn towards and enjoy. Then, perhaps, I will reap the benefits. I am a perpetual student. I do have a class that I attend sporadically and we cheer each other on. But when it comes down to it — I have to face the easel alone each morning.

There is 1 comment for The leap pays off by Brenda Jacobsen

From: Judy Palermo — Nov 06, 2009

Brenda- best wishes on your great start; you are getting your name out there very well. I’ve just begun getting my stuff out, perhaps a bit too early, but I like to dive in and hit that water hard and cold! You were smart in pricing as well- I can see now I’ve started too low, and that’s become a headache.


The power of positive action
by Bobbo Goldberg, Orlando, FL, USA


“King Vulture”
digital painting
by Bobbo Goldberg

Seminar language and Law of Attraction aside, I hear two conversations going on, and they don’t necessarily blend into one. A life in art is wonderful. A living in art is something entirely different, though not necessarily separate. Frankly, Robert, I know some astoundingly fine artists, some of them world class, who have a hard time financially, and have for years, even decades. The thing is that as soon as money is mentioned, especially real money (i.e., bill-paying money), you’ve put one foot out of the world of art and into the world of marketing.

It’s all very well to say that quality and dedication will out. It may even invoke a placebo effect in some people, giving them the audacity to stride out of their studio solitude and let their work be seen. The truth holds, nevertheless: no one can buy your art if they don’t know it’s there. Letting enough people know it’s there is marketing, and like any sales, evolutionary, reproductive or biological process, it’s at least in part a numbers game. When your interlocutor talks about support groups, he’s onto something. Partners in accountability and strategy can be helpful in the extreme. Making art can be solitary as a walk in the desert. But selling art is highly collaborative, especially on any regular basis. It’s got to get not just out there, but far enough out there to be seen from all sorts of locations. Positive thinking only goes so far. As you’ve pointed out many times, positive action, and lots of it, are requisite to making this kind of change.


Owning our successes
by Lisa Schaus, Flathead Valley, MT, USA


“Alpine summer”
watercolour painting
by Lisa Schaus

Battling low esteem is common among creative people. Why? Perhaps we have been allowed to indulge ourselves for too long. A good inner task master develops slowly. The outer task master is the bumpy road of life. (Like the challenging painting in progress!) As the empty canvas fills and keeps the artist in a lively conversation with a modicum of reprimand, lessons on many levels are learned. Owning our successes along the way to grow and nurture self-esteem is paramount. Thank you for your reminder!



There are 2 comments for Owning our successes by Lisa Schaus

From: Penny Collins — Nov 06, 2009

What a beautiful painting.

From: Jane Yelliott — Nov 09, 2009

What a bold, striking yet delicate handling of the subject matter!!


Focus equals expansion
by Mary Susan Vaughn, Charlotte, NC, USA


“Red barn”
oil painting, 9 x 12 inches
by Mary Susan Vaughn

Being accountable for your own goals and direction as an artist is critical to your success. Depending on a friend or friends to carry you and motivate you is the surest way I know of to fail as an artist. The motivation and goals must come from within. You, the artist, must be passionate about your work, your subject, your goals, and your direction if you are going to be successful in this field. This is true with any field. I think of it this way — what you focus on the most expands. If I focus on my website more than my artwork, my artwork will not sell or grow in collectorship. My website will, but not my artwork. And vice-versa. On the other hand, if you have multiple passions, as I do, I find that structure of time and talent is necessary to expand and grow in all areas of your creativity. Bottom line — to be successful in any endeavor — creative or otherwise — you must focus and have a clear set of goals, reasonable expectations, and a plan — from educational goals to business goals and networking, too, all of these efforts will expand your financial gains over time. Patience is a virtue — and so is persistence. Stay focused and you will be evermore successful as an artist.

There are 2 comments for Focus equals expansion by Mary Susan Vaughn

From: Penny Collins — Nov 06, 2009

I love the brushstrokes in this painting!!

From: sarah — Nov 08, 2009

Gorgeous painting. I, too, love the brushwork.


Grace and persistence
by Karen Schoch, Glenside, PA, USA


by Karen Schoch

I can totally agree with the ideas in this post. I too am on the cusp of taking that step to make reality the dream of being a full time artist. The important people in my life support this and yet income loss is a concern and causes me to hesitate. I find that there are two kinds of people who are confident in their skill as an artist. Those who have the attitude of “get out of my way I know what I want so leave me alone to do it” and those who I think of as more teachable in their spirit. The later are persistent in both doing their own work and honing their skill, but they haven’t lost their ability to relate in a caring way to others, or their interest in personal growth and learning. I want my own life to be a balance of grace and persistence.

There are 2 comments for Grace and persistence by Karen Schoch

From: Suzette Fram — Nov 06, 2009

… a balance of grace and persistence…

I like that. Thank you.

From: Tim — Nov 06, 2009

LOL, I guess I am the first nasty type, since the second one sounds to me like keeping a door open to stick nose into other one’s business! It takes all kinds! Made me laugh!


In the stream
by Lina Jones, Melbourne, Australia


“Erica 2”
original painting
by Lina Jones

I found this one particularly uplifting and the advice given so positive for all artists. My aim is not to make a lot of money, but to enjoy being in the artistic stream with those of like mind, no matter whether they are wealthy or otherwise. And I especially liked the last paragraph — our own inner self is the best guide in every area of our lives. Thanks again for your wise and encouraging words.

(RG note) Thanks, Lina. And thanks to the more than one hundred others who wrote to express essentially the same thought.


Where’s the beef?
by Jackie Strickland, Brunswick, GA, USA

Could we hear from at least 15 artists who are making so much money they have to slap themselves silly? I’m an artist. I know a lot of artists. We’ve all painted for years. We’re all committed, diligent and work our butts off painting and promoting. None of us are slap happy yet. Surely one of us would have gotten it right by now. Honestly and sincerely — no sarcasm now — can I hear from a few rich artists who make their living by selling their paintings? It would truly make my day!

There are 12 comments for Where’s the beef? by Jackie Strickland

From: anonymous — Nov 05, 2009

For obvious reasons I’m anonymous because clients strangely do not like their artists to think at all about the money. I have five galleries including ones in Texas and California and have this year also sold four paintings through the Premium Links on Painter’s Keys, one of them to Australia. While this year has not been as good as last year I have not had a month below $10,000 and one was much larger. I paint about 18 paintings a month at an average price of $2500. Galleries take 50% unless I sell them direct in which case I do better. I do not paint for money, but I work at it and enjoy the work so I guess I’m slapping myself.

From: Anonymous — Nov 06, 2009

Thank you anonymous for sharing the numbers with us – that is such a great help! Much appreciated!

From: Anonymous — Nov 06, 2009

I too am anonymous and I too send work out to galleries and have a wide client base. My paintings are in the $10,000 to $30,000 range. They are often slower to find dedicated collectors but the living is excellent and it gives me lots of time to get things the way I want them.

From: Peter Fitzgerald — Nov 06, 2009

I’m a collector who haunts three fave galleries. I buy two or three paintings or sculptures a year. My partner does too. We can tell by the red stickers and the prices and the packages going out the door which artists are doing the best and taking home a good income. Galleries would not be able to stay open if their artists were not doing well.

From: anonymous — Nov 06, 2009

Do I qualify? I am a very fast painter and this has helped me already in a year get into a decent income. My paintings are still cheap, and I mean cheap. I’m new at it, just love it and I do not want this thing to go sour and I slap myself every day.

From: anonymous also — Nov 07, 2009

I’m making some money, but I spend more on other people’s art than I earn with mine. Sounds as though it’s an unhappy situation, but it’s not, seeing as how I have other income. I am, however, very happy to be contributing to the well being of artists who are very probably doing better than I overall. I’ve not complaint, because I love everything about painting. If ever my balance sheets ceases to be red, it will just be gravy. Good for those who are ambitious, or for whom the income signifies a wider goal in a life in art. But unless you adore marketing as much as you adore painting, on balance give the edge to the the latter and you you’ll likely be happy with it.

From: Anonymous in Anonymousland — Nov 07, 2009

I consider myself to be a painter first and a money-man second. My income, which will approach a half million US dollars this year has been achieved by steady production via good work habits and the simple expedient of getting work out of the studio as soon as possible. I do not compromise my art, remain true to myself and keep UPS busy to eight wide ranging gallery destinations.

From: Paul Taylor — Nov 07, 2009

I would like to know what mediums these “money makers” are using. I’m betting oils. Would you please tell us. Thanks.

From: Anonomous in A… — Nov 08, 2009

Yes, in my case oil and acrylic

From: Anonymous in England — Nov 09, 2009

I pretty well stick to one subject of which I am an expert. I have two galleries in the UK, one each in the USA, Canada and Australia. I am opening in Beijing in February. Business is up this year and it is the more expensive works that are being placed. Slap, slap.

From: another in anonymity — Nov 10, 2009

At the peril of upsetting others, I think my main secret was my decision early on not to teach. It was a selfish decision, I know, but I thought I would be poor at teaching art or even talking about the subject. It was a mystery to me then and it still in a way is, and that’s the way I like it. Without a side income from teaching I was able to concentrate on my own improvement until I became accepted by excellent galleries.

From: Ralph Jonas — Nov 16, 2009

There are plenty of painters who make big bucks. There are 20,000 art galleries who make big bucks too. Thing is, you don’t hear about us because we don’t join clubs, don’t teach, and generally don’t hang out because we’re just too busy.





Black birds

watercolour painting
by Frances Knueppel, Birmingham, AL, USA


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 Larry Moore of Orlando, FL, USA, who wrote, “I gotta go get me some more rich friends.”

And also Andra Norris of Burlingame, CA, USA, who wrote, “Sometimes I really like you. And this is one of those times.”

And also Gerald Liu who wrote, “Artists don’t eat bread and butter — they eat lobsters.”



Archived Comments

Enjoy the past comments below for Worried about income



From: Rick Rotante — Nov 02, 2009

Many become artists because they think it’s an easy life. Sit around, paint beautiful pictures, have a cool studio. Be recognized as an artist. Mix with the beautiful people. Give exhibits to large appreciative collectors all clambering for your next masterpiece. Money from your sales paving the way to travel, a great home in the country, wealth & fame. Equally as many would-be artists don’t have any idea what it takes to achieve these goals. Many more never will. Having the ability to create any work of art may seam easy to the casual onlooker. The notion that “you were born with the ability” has been told to me more times than I care to mention. Along with long and arduous study comes the eventual realization that no one is looking for you or your artwork if you don’t present it at some point to the world. There are stages of reality that an artist has to go through before he/she truly becomes an artist. The first stage I call –

THE ENAMORED STAGE. This is when being an artist is filled with myths and misnomers such as stated above. Ah! An artists life for me, etc. Next is –


The Dogged Stage is when we think we’re gonna get serious and start painting. We paint our friends, we paint many still lifes, self-portraits and anything we view whether its paint worthy or not. We basically work with a frenzy only matched by our ignorance of the process of painting. We hope everyone in our family who sees the results will love them as much as we do regardless of their lack of quality and invention. From there we move into what I call –

THE AWAKENING stage. This is when we realize that everything we have “accomplished” so far is crap and we need to take a lesson or two before we proceed and stop wasting paint, canvas, time and effort. In this awakening stage are the seeds of the next stage.

THE HOLY CRAP THIS IS HARDER THAN I THOUGHT stage. Now this is a crucial juncture for the budding artists. For here is where we give serious thought to this dream of really being an artist. Our goal will have to include some sort of employment while we take time out to learn how to paint. After successfully finding a teacher we move into the next stage.


Here we wallow for a period of time thinking that now that we have a good teacher, are taking lessons, we only have to put a year or so into this thing and we’ll have it nailed. This is also part and parcel with saying ” by next year I’ll have enough good work (classroom work) to start exhibiting”. Or ” I give it three years, if I’ve not made it by then etc, etc”. Now the length of this stage varies with each individual young artist, until the time the …

REALIZATION stage hits, if we are still painting and haven’t become used car salesmen or clothing manufacturers, or dot.com entrepreneurs, we are now ready to take a serious look and this whole artist/ painter thing head on. It’s here that the real work begins. Now we have to be serious or call it quits. The innate talent we were born with is no longer sustaining us. We need to harness this raw talent and focus on establishing a career. We have to use the training we received. All the empirical knowledge we’ve managed added with what we’ve been taught coupled with the god given ability has to come together to enter the final stage.

The GET DOWN TO WORK stage. The people in this stage are the people you see in shows again and again. These are the ones who paint every day. These are the ones teaching, working in the movie, tv industry. These are the people selling their work regularly. They may not be rich but they are producing work worthy of attention. Worthy of showing and buying. Serious thought has to be given to the process of becoming an artist and goals have to be set and met if we hope to acheive this end. Talent alone will not sustain you. Knowledge of how the game is played is also essential. When you know the rules, you can navigate your career thru the labyrinth and find the other side. You learn how to do more than paint. Then and only then are you becoming a true artist.

From: Pixie — Nov 03, 2009

Then ther’s the stage — ok, I’ve been working my a## off for years and I would still make more as a maid. So, it’s time to take an art marketing seminar and either paint what other people actually want to buy (whatever that is) or continue on the “less than a maids salary.”

From: Carole M — Nov 03, 2009

Dude, that’s it! I need some new friends! Just kidding~ Robert, your point is well taken, it’s the ART first that’s the motivating factor, in good times, as well as lean times. Yes, it’s often hard to integrate the practical aspects into a balanced life, and it’s a great adventure to try!

From: Skeptical — Nov 03, 2009

&nbsp &nbsp &nbsp Given time, a properly run life in art can build to such outrageous monetary levels you have to slap yourself hard to contain your hubris……Evolved work attracts the attention of others in the position to share. Talented in their own way, proper art dealers will go to work for you daily and make your dreams possible.

Reading this, I cannot help thinking that maybe you live on a different planet than I do, or that you have had such a charmed life that you actually believe these things you say.

From: Dwight Williams, Idaho — Nov 03, 2009

This may not add much to the discussion other than it tells a lot about what some non-artists think. Jokingly (because she really knows better) my sister said, upon her retirement, that I could not possibly retire since I’d never worked a day in my life.

Well for over 40 years I’ve done what I love and made a living painting and have no idea whether I fall in the average income of my friends. Nor could I care. It’s a great life. It’s work in several areas as Robert says. But it is work. Do it if you love it. If not, do the widget thing Robert mentions.

From: Jackie Knott — Nov 04, 2009

I have friends who have never been in an art gallery in their lives. They are friends for other reasons, and politely look at my canvases with, “That’s really nice.” I seek out a peer or gallery, someone with a knowledgeable base to assess my work. More often as not, I know perfectly well what is “wrong” and focus on that.

As to art finally supporting us, it is important to note some have been building their career since their teens. Others are late into a second or a third career in art. One cannot expect a hit and miss decade or so to reward a lifetime of a carefully nurtured career in art, or anything else for that matter.

The important thing is to develop your skills as best you can, always striving to be better. Study, work, improve, find your market, and did I mention work?

From: tamsin — Nov 04, 2009

I don’t get the thing about the ‘five friends’ etc either.

QUOTE: “Beware of artists, the mix with all classes, and are therefore dangerous” UNQUOTE – Queen Victoria

From: Dorenda Crager Watson — Nov 05, 2009

This is for Rick R…I LOVE your description of the “Stages of the Artist” and have to say that my own path has followed it spot on. I believe that I am at the final stage described (and it has taken 30 years to get there, as I am a little slow:) and I am loving the process and the journey immensely…I think this is key to being a “successful” artist. I would love to use your interpretation in my classroom as an example of the “glamourous” life of the artist :)

From: Aleta Pippin — Nov 05, 2009

I, too, agree with Rick’s stages of becoming an artist. I can remember taking an advanced critique class with Alex Shundi and schlepping those paintings of family, friends, landscapes to him on our first meeting. He turned to me and in his Italian accent asked, “Why are you painting these?” I didn’t know what else to paint! But I was determined.

So here I am 15 years later in that stage of appreciating my work and truly enjoying my life as an artist.

From: paul demarrais — Nov 06, 2009

Rick is right on. It’s a long grind to actually ‘being an artist’, but it’s fun to keep after it for a lifetime. Odds go up when you get your first thirty years in. You actually become one of those you probably admired early on. Art makes a better person out of you. It humbles you and builds your spiritual side, your true nature. All this marketing babble misses the point altogether. Art is about giving of yourself. When you have something to give, you will have success.

From: rainy burns — Nov 06, 2009

I quite my “day job” to become a full time artist about 3 years ago. My income went way down but my HAPPINESS QUOTA went WAY up. I wouldn’t trade what I’m doing now for all the money in the world.

From: Marsha Hamby Savage — Nov 06, 2009

I did enjoy this letter — and the thoughts about the average income of your five best friends. We do tend to surround ourselves at different stages of our art career with other artists who are in about the same stage. As we progress, we accumulate new friends of about that same “new” stage. I really did enjoy Rick’s analysis of the different stages. I’ve been painting almost 40 years and enjoy my work. I think the more important thing here is that if you enjoy the process — all of it, making it, marketing it, destroying the bad work, etc. — enjoy the process and your will enjoy the rewards — be that self esteem or money. Both are going to come to you. Process is most important — and enjoyment!

From: Gail Marie Nauen — Nov 06, 2009

As I am revisiting the article “Worried about Income”…I am listening to another take on that concept in the song “Mozart’s Money” by Hugh Blumenfeld on my local folk radio station WUMB/Boston …The word “serendipity” gets so overused these

days but ….whoops, there it is. Often when i work in the studio, an awareness of what is being thought/developed gets echoed in the lyrics of the song I am hearing at that very moment.

Can you put a price tag on that experience?

From: Brigitte Nowak — Nov 06, 2009

I took early retirement and a (limited) government pension (the rest of the family appreciates the opportunity to eat regularly that the pension provides) five years ago to paint full-time. I am now beginning to supplement my pension with some regularity through the sale of artwork. I am also my own boss, including my role as quality control manager, and haven’t had a cold, or flu, since I retired (I now make my own stress). The quality of the work I am producing is improving significantly, and my happiness quotient is through the roof. As a side note, other than artists who live on grants or inheritances, we produce “products” for the marketplace, and it is “market forces” that determine our monetary success. One can sit in one’s studio and create the best painting in the world, but it is the public, who are willing to part with the cash that they, too, have worked hard for, that determines our financial success.

By the way, I too like Rick Rotante’s “stages of the artist” – well done!

From: D. Wilson — Nov 06, 2009

Timely, bad moods. I have found I have been painting darker and darker as of late. The effects of winter, family and physical problems have added to my mood. In trying to come up with a new painting plan, I had hit a block wall. Nothing suited me. Knowing myself well, I was working to find something that would be simpler and brighter in color. I chastised myself and continued to force myself to keep seeking something inspiring. Eureka! I finally found something after a week of time wasted searching. I have found I do my best work in a dark mood, I pull inward into my pity pot world until I do something that makes me happy, then all is right in my world again. It is my way of cleansing my negative thoughts and get past my problems. I can have dark moments of self doubt and loathing but if I keep soul searching I come out with new insight. Thank you for you wonderful letters they really nail it when it is so needed.

From: John — Nov 06, 2009

“outrageous monetary levels . . .” That’s a good one. I like your sense of humor.

From: Jan — Nov 07, 2009

I find your article very interesting if not motivating. However, one is an artist whether or not they sell in a professional capacity. And generally, the talent is intrinsic. It is choice that directs an artist to become a professional.

From: Rick Rotante — Nov 07, 2009

For Dorenda Crager Watson- Please, be my guest and use what you wish.

From: Sigrid Healthy Together — Nov 07, 2009

That was one of the most honest and encouraging epistles I’ve read in years. I’m totally over the “starving artist” mentality. Economic recession or not, this is the year I am moving from being a sometime artist to full-out committed. And as I have the courage to move forward and expand on the opportunities life offers, I find the there is no lack of lucrative projects to pursue. Moving out on faith is the tough part. Tell James I’ll be part of his “mastermind group”.

From: Paul — Nov 07, 2009

This is Paul R W Anthony ‘replying’ …. when I first began ”artisting” a very fine, and successful artist, Milliard Sheets, gave me a piece of advice that I thought at the time was very vague and esoteric even – but oh how true it has proven to be…”Take care of Art and Art will take care of you!” You see what I mean but when combined with Renior’s statement about giving 100% to the creation of your art ………………..and one receives results. I certainly have.

From: Diana Wakely — Nov 07, 2009

I don’t agree with James on a couple of fronts – If I only considered people of ‘my bracket’ as friends I would consider myself poor. My art has taken me into many venues and meant crossing paths with some wonderful people. I paint to paint and the monetary part comes. I believe if you are painting to ‘make money’ and that is your primary goal then you are taking for granted the talent that God has given you.

From: Lee Nichols — Nov 07, 2009

I enjoy your post all the time but today was a “real Winner.” The most prevalent disease rampant in our country is “unworthyness”, I am not good enough, Do you think it’s OK? When an artist saddles himself w/those insecurities not much success will be forthcoming. (Maybe after death when the art is marketed by someone else.) Your advice was on the mark. Thanks for your wisdom and your letters.

From: Paul deMarrais — Nov 07, 2009

Nonsense indeed! There are NO GUARANTEES OF ANY INCOME in the art game. I do think there are factors that might have a correlation. How about talent, luck,timing, perserverance, support of great people around you. Talent and perserverance would be my top two but without help of many people, both initially and afterwords, you might not make it. Why do business people try to use business models to apply to artmaking? I worry about this artist’s priorities right off the bat. Income ought to be the least of his worries. Income is the tail on the dog. If the alert bird dog is on the hunt, the tail will follow right along behind the training and fine tuned senses of the hunter. Good luck! That bird is elusive!

From: MISSY CASSIDY — Nov 07, 2009

Thank you for the quotes from Bruce Barton and Nicki Giovanni… just what I needed to hear… a discussion of true inner value that leads to confidence.

With these thoughts in mind, finding the inspiration and trust of one’s own brush to express the “seeing” one has, will lead to true art. All of this is the point – the expression, the joy, the excitement, the desire – much more valuable than money!

Great columns… I look foward to each week’s thoughts.

From: Marti O’Brien — Nov 07, 2009

I just paint for fun, have sold a few pieces, but if I had to do this for an income I think I would totally block. I really admire those artists who apply themselves daily and succeed in making art their source of income.

From: Elsha Leventis — Nov 07, 2009



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