Friday, March 20, 2015

Who Are You Painting For?

Golden Hour -©T Grillo Laird -  oil on canvas - 24x48
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I entered this painting in a competition for a national exhibit. It did not get in. I had the chance to submit two paintings for consideration, but only entered the one. I had a second painting ready but didn't enter it because I thought the first was better. Not long after, I posted both paintings on Facebook. The painting I didn't enter, quickly racked up 260 "likes" and sold the next day. The one I entered in the competition, the one I thought was better, received 105 likes.

So, what does this tell me? Are competition entries more likely to be successful when they have greater popular appeal? Was it self defeating to enter only one? Am I a poor judge of my own work?? 

Then I started to think. Who am I really painting for? Whether for galleries, judges, or the writers of articles who can make an artist's reputation, I'd have to tailor the work- even if only subconsciously- to what I think would meet their expectations. What then happens to exploration and the quest to strive for the highest level and the excitement of discovery that comes with freedom from anyone's expectations- including my own?

I recently attended a workshop where one of the participants plied the instructor with questions about various marketing tactics. He listened, then quietly said "If the work is good, people will take notice." In the silence that followed, I could see my way forward.

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