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Finding Balance in an Otherwise Lopsided World

by Daniel J. Keys on 9/3/2009 10:22:35 AM

This Post is by Daniel J. Keys, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.

Going over some of the recent articles written by various FAV contributors (myself included) you might get the impression that there’s a bit of inconsistency amongst us: Some give advice that often seems to contradict other’s instructions; their instructions go against things you may have been taught were right, by someone else; and another person’s teachings may disregard all others' opinions, including yours, still. 

My question then, is who’s right? If we’re all experienced professionals at what we do, and our advice to you differs a bit from one writer to the next, whose direction is to be adhered to? The one with the most experience? Whoever appears to be the most successful?  

Avoiding the sea-saw, and the cult

The answer to this is not in jumping from one way of doing to the next popularly accepted method that comes along; nor is it in following one particular individual’s advice as though they were Moses leading you to the “promised land”. 

Finding a balance by allowing each new bit of information to be processed and tried until it becomes something that you’ll either keep, shelf, or toss out altogether, is the only way to determine what will work best for you

Once you find something that you deem as successful, it doesn’t matter what the next guy says; continue with what you’ve proven to work for you. 

A difference of opinion  

For example: FAV writers have varying opinions when it comes to how to approach a gallery successfully. Clint Watson believes in referrals, whereas I'd rather send a top-notch portfolio (Editor's note - we also actually know an artist who believes artists should never approach galleries and instead wait for galleries to approach them.).  The fact of the matter is however, that we've both been successful at what we do so we’re both right in our own ways.  

This means that although some methods are better than others, there's still more than one way to skin a cat (not that I'd ever condone such an inhumane act), and finding what works for you will pay in the end. Sure it'll take some effort, as anything worthwhile is worth fighting for, but the time spent rationally deciding which direction to take will help in keeping your focus and achieving your dreams.


The proof of desire is focus.  

It is essential to remain focused on your goals. Notice that I said your goals. It’s your job to set them, and then search out the information required to achieve them. That’s where we at FAV come in: We show you what has worked for us in similar instances, and then you can tailor each formula to suit your own individual needs.  

Eventually, you’ll be able to single out what’s effective for you, and continue on down your path, endeavoring to reach higher levels of success. 

Applying the “Do What Works Method” to your art

This will work where art techniques are concerned as well. I’ve come across many confused artists that have attempted to “soak in” so much differing information from lots of successful artists that they ultimately don’t have a clue as to which direction to take their work in, and thus remain wishy-washy for their entire careers. 

The reason why successful artists are successful is because they do what works… for them: They remain focused on developing in what they love to do, and edit out whatever contradicts their proven methods. 

Old dogs learning new tricks

This isn’t to say that you can’t, or in some cases shouldn’t, change your way of doing something. If what you’re doing isn’t proving effective, change it. It’s that simple. But change it because that's what you feel would be best for you; not because someone else said that it’s the only way to go. 

Considering a plain, train, or automobile

Only you can decide what it is that you’re after, and likewise what methods you’ll need to utilize to arrive at your desired purpose. Just because someone else arrived at their destination by flying in an airplane, doesn’t mean that it’s the best way to travel. Driving or taking a train may be slower, but I guarantee the stories will be better.

Similarly, doing what’s best for you in your career will result in your being content, happy, and an all the more balanced individual.  



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Related Posts:

Knowledge is Key

Twin Pillars of Art Marketing Success

Setting Goals to Be Successful

Finding Your True Motivation

Art Links for Artists Who Want to Change the World

Don't Be Afraid to Change the World

Topics: Art Business | Art Commentary 

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Debbie Turner Chavers
Hmmm. I thoughtfully consider all advice and truly appreciate the assortment of opinions. I believe that as I practice I will improve. Yet,
my goal is not perfection but change. I considered Clint's statement about art changing the world. I concur with this thought process because it is the reason I am creating. It took me a long time to forget about my lack of training to the point that the message was more important than my pride of perfect. This was a huge obstacle for me. I would share only with those that I thought would be kind. I suffered from a fear of rejection and pride.
But the message of the art to change the world has nothing to do with me personally. No more than the brush has to my paint or my canvas. I am a tool willing to be used by my Creator.

Lori Woodward Simons
Daniel, for an artist your age, you reveal a lot of wisdom. I like what you've written here about being able to pick what's right for us as individuals.

There is a similar discussion going on over at Facebook - reflecting on Clint's comment about art changing the world. William Scott Jennings said on FB that he paints for himself to change his own world. In effect, what you are saying agrees with him since we all have to begin with ourselves and what we wish to portray.

Isn't it great when we, as artists, say what's important to us in paint and then it resonates with another human being? I've heard Richard say often that art is a means of communication, and I agree with him. We are communicating with viewers.

I'm getting too wordy here because I'm hungry ;-). Well said Daniel. Keep both the articles and paintings comin'.

JT Harding
Thanks for this inspiring article. I believe that you, Lori, Clint, Keith, and all the writers have differing experiences due to what has worked and not worked "for each person." I have developed my style of painting based on my own Brand
which informs my work, and guides my marketing, and selling efforts. As far as approaching Galleries, I'm sure their are differing approaches that work depending on what 'stage' you are in in your career. Maybe this could be the subject of another article?

Joe Hayles
We all may have been guilty of taking the instruction in latest workshop as the way to do our thing. It just doesn't work that way. One must establish his or her own way of doing their work or hobby. i have seen work that spoke of the instructor that taught the latest class. I think that one should attend as many workshops/classes as they feel they should, however, as stated, don't try to work like the teacher. Take the instruction as a relaying of the teacher/instructor's experience and not as advice on the way to do your work.
This is not advice, just my opinion.

Clint Watson
Debbie - I think people may sometimes misunderstand my "change the world" theme. If it changes YOU, then it is changing the world. It sounds like getting over pride is something your painting has helped you with, and that makes the world and, especially, YOUR world, a better place.

This is a great, life changing-even-tho-simple quote: "The proof of desire is focus."

A skeptic might say, if they desire it, they won't need to be told to focus. I think, in response, that it's a lot like true love. Sometimes you have to be reminded to give your heart and soul to your one true love and stop flirting with people. The saying is a help in resisting temptation.

Debbie Turner Chavers

Clint, indeed I did misunderstand your "Change the world" theme.
My art has not changed me. My relationship with Jesus Christ has changed me and I am grateful for the opportunity to share His word through art.
Thank you for the clarification.

Michael Slattery
Since I am just a baby (a little over 2 years) at being an artist it can be overwhelming to digest all of the advice on how to perfect my craft and market myself. It's nice to see that there is not a single formula for success. Daniel's article gelled a number of thoughts and ideas I was processing to let me know that it's okay to listen to all and come to my own path with these stimuli.

Daniel J. Keys
Thanks all, for the great comments! :)



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