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Good. Better. Best.

by Keith Bond on 8/16/2010 1:57:21 PM

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

Every day, you are faced with choices. There are choices pertaining to your art; choices regarding personal or family issues. There’s work. Even play. Life is full of responsibilities needing to be addressed. Even the choice of what to eat for breakfast faces you every day. 

You know, I am sure, that there are right and wrong choices about many things we face. But with some things, it isn’t so black and white. Sometimes the choice is between good, better, and best. Yes, there are multiple shades of white. Any interior decorator will tell you that.

When it comes to your art, are you making good decisions? Or are you making the best decisions? Or do you even know? 

There are many, many scenarios where you might be faced with such a dilemma. A few examples might be:

-        You need to begin a work of art for an upcoming show, but you also need to catch up on your bookwork. What takes priority?

-       Or you’ve been invited to submit art to a local gala, but your gallery is anxious to get some fresh new work. How do you prioritize who gets your work? 

-       Perhaps you have enough new work for both the gala and your gallery. The gala may open up new doors. But your gallery has been consistent and has been good to you. Who gets the best work?

-       Should you spend the last week of your kids’ summer vacation on a family holiday? Or do you stay home and catch up on the work you have gotten behind on? (I am facing this one as we speak. I have chosen to take a family vacation. We are leaving town as soon as I finish writing this article.) 

-       When faced with a deadline, do you create a “safe” piece; one you know you can do fairly well? Or do you stretch yourself? Do you push your limits to attempt the one you are excited about, even though you don’t know if it will really turn out?

-       Do you spend just a little extra money to order “Thank You” cards with your artwork on it? Or do you purchase generic cards to save a few dollars?

-       Do you clean the studio? Or do you go plein air painting?

-       You are in the fortunate situation where two separate galleries would like to add you as an artist. Both have pros and cons. Both are good galleries. You cannot commit to both right now. How do you choose?

-       A gallery with a proven track record wants to show your work. It is a gallery that you feel would increase your sales and reputation – one that would take you to the next level. But they ask you to quit selling from your website. You have done fairly well on your own. What do you do?

You get the point. There are thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of choices that you might face. I cannot tell you what to choose. You must make the decisions. It can be hard to know sometimes. Once in a while it is obvious. Often it isn’t. 

Do you try to evaluate your options, learn as much as you can, and then try to make the best choices? Or do you simply pick one at random and go for it? Or do you react with no action at all? 

Certainly some choices are weightier than others. What color to use is perhaps less important than which publisher do you sign with. Or is it? Important choices to me might be less important to you. 

I am not offering you any answers here. Rather, I am simply raising the issue. How do you choose when you are faced with a good, better, best scenario? I know that I often occupy my time doing things that are good, but at the expense of doing things that are best. Usually because I didn’t realize that the “best” was an option.

Best Wishes,


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Michael Cardosa

Interesting post. By the way, you might be feeling guilty about going on vacation but in the long run it's the right thing to do. You can always find another gallery, publisher, etc. it's a lot more involved to get another family. Of course there was that movie long ago called "Captain's Paradise", but I digress...

Life is always forcing us to make decisions, art or otherwise. All you can do is weigh the information you have, think what the results (or ramifications) might be and make a decision. Hopefully, you'll have made the right one, but hey unless there is blood or jail time involved hopefully we survive the wrong decisions too.


Jean Skipper
Keith, It seems that you've somehow gotten a glimpse at the myriad of questions that run through my mind on a daily basis. I only wish that the answers could keep up with them! :-)

A family vacation sounds like a wise choice indeed, and I hope that you thoroughly enjoy this precious time with the ones you love.


Esther J. Williams
Great article Keith, it is a timely topic. I have been wrestling with the subject matter to start a new series. My mind is overpowered with images and you are right, to stop the racket, we need to make a good, better, best decision. But, my creative mind wants to paint everything, all subjects.
I ask myself in these dilemmas, "What will this do to benefit my life?" That solves my problem pretty satisfactorily.
We have to weigh out decisions carefully at times to make a better or best move towards a finer goal. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made. As artists we need to think of the best we can do, as a cook, I like to be the best, but now I have to do the cooking less often. Even though I like gourmet cooking, I can not be both. As a mother, I want to do the best possible for my children, so sometimes I have to take breaks from the art. I did recently for a few weeks and it did prove to be the best choice. As soon as I returned to painting, I created a strong, more evolved work of art.
Whenever you have to hold back from one thing to accomplish another, that energy piles up and you release it with such strength later.

Carol Schmauder
Decisions, decisions, decisions. We are all faced with so many each day if we have a busy life. Your article struck a chord with me. I agree with Esther when she pointed out: "We have to weigh our decisions carefully at times to make a better or best move towards a finer goal. Sometimes sacrifices have to be made." I do, however, think that when it comes to family, they become the priority. Great decision on your part to take your family on vacation.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Keith...

Very good post. You sure brought up everything that can possibly make an artist feel like they can get ready for the nut house. It is good to know we are not alone.

BTW, Not Taking action when it comes to making a decision about something IS MAKING a Decision. TO DO NOTHING at all, to ignore it, you really are making a decision.

Decisions are difficult to make, at least I find them difficult at times. There are things or happenings that pop into my life/art life that I wish did not have to be dealt with. I find that I just want to run away. Not from the painting, but from all the other stuff that goes along with it.
Doing the outdoor art shows makes it even harder to make decisions about galleries, etc..or what juried shows(national or local) to enter. I certainly want to put the best work out at the art shows too. Some of those outdoor art shows present very good awards. So,what if I take one of my better pieces and enter it into a jured art show and do not take it to the outdoor art show that it might win an award at....Instead I enter it in a juried art show only to have it rejected. DId I make the wrong decision? And at times we have to HOLD an art work till the jurying deadline is past...till we know if the painting got in or not.

Do I go to a large outdoor art show that is profitable or attend an art convention that happens to fall on the same dates as the art show? Decisions like this can almost make a person(artist) wish they were two people so they could be in two different places at one time.

What is the best scenario? Someone tell me!!!!! Can almost drive ya batty.

Does anyone toss coins anymore??..or say eeny-meeny--minie-mo?

Even making a decision on what to paint next can be hard on the brain at times...for this competition, or that show or whatever. Or acdept the offer to have a solo show and get work ready for that instead of getting work ready for the ourdoor art show schedule where your chances of selling are a bit better. BUT you know that SOLO Show could bring home the bucks too and it is an important addition on your resume!!!!!

Gosh Keith...where are the answers in your post? Should I check back?

Have a great vacation and you do not need me to tell you that you made a right decision there. You already know that.

Now, should I go paint or get off this computer...hmmmmmm.

Have a great time with your family!!

Barbara J Carter
I think if you know which choice is "best" then the choice is obvious. The problem, at least for me, lies in not knowing what's merely good and what's best.

Judy Mudd
I agree with you Barbara. Sometimes you don't know which is the best scenario for the situation. Also, it may enhance one part of your art business but not help or even hinder others. A lot of take and pull with any decision. Best decision of all is to go on a family vacation with your family! Maybe, while you are relaxing you can come up with the best answers.

George De Chiara
My magic eight ball does a pretty good jobs of answering all of these questions and more :)

I was recently faced with the family vacation question and like you I went with them. It's the right (and easy) choice to make. The time away can really clear your head. The one thing I have noticed though is how hard it is to get back on track once home again. I was actually able to paint more on vacation then the first week back from it.

karen Winters
So many choices and so hard to know which may have been the best, except in retrospect.

Tuva Stephens
It is almost like you were reading my mind about decisions that must be made. It helps me to write down my options and just let that saturate a bit. You hit on so many thing in which I am pondering at the moment. I am being pulled in so many directions. Something is going to have to give! Esther, I really liked your comment! DECISIONS!

Lori Woodward
Sometimes it's good to get insight from trusted friends who understand the business parts and know you pretty well. I don't necessarily take their advice ;-) but it's always good to hear what someone else would choose and why.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Great idea Judy...GET away on a vacation or something simlar. Then come back with a fresh eye, mind and viewpoint on the situation. The mind is rested.

I sure do agree with that George...having to get back on track after being away. The mind doesn't want to leave that vacation.

Esther, I can relate to what you wrote...wanting to paint everything and making that decision of what. And I enjoyed reading the rest of your post. Made much sense.

AND we do have a lot of sacrifices we make in our pursuit of our art.

Vacation time away though is important. Now, do not let my husband know that I wrote that. He is patiently waiting for me to tell him some dates to get away and where to. Decisions, decisions!!

I agree Lori..always good to hear from others. I love reading all these posts!!! They are so, so very helpful.
Not all the answers are there, but there are some good ideas on helping to possibly arrive at some of those needed answers.
BTW, I had made the decion earlier in my comment to either stay on the computer or get off and paint. .... A right decision because I finised the painting I had been working on!! Manged to get two pieces done today because I made some right decisions. That is a good feeling.


Esther J. Williams
Thanks Carol and Tuva, I do like the sound of Keith`s good, better and best. It is the same as prioritizing and when it comes to family, they are on top of the heap! They can also act as sound boards to help clear your mind and make those decisions.
Lori has a great idea, I have a artist friends and without them, I might be lost. With them, I feel grounded and learn so much about what is going on in the local art world. We cry on each other`s shoulders, praise our victories and offer good tips. Yes, listen to your friends, family and even the older wise folks. I have one wise old friend with whom I confer once in awhile. She cheers me on when I need it most. I listen to her tell stories. She has lived a long, long life with many life experiences, she knows me well and gives sage advice like an elder chieftain. I count my blessings that I know her.

Joanne Benson
Hi Keith, Have a great vacation with your family! That is definitely the right choice!

Helen Horn Musser
Keith, you've given us another thought provoking post; sometime just having one choice which is the best choic is better than having three others

Well, if we make the wrong decision, we can always make it into the best I right! Have a great vacation.

Carol Schmauder
Sandy: I can sure relate to your post also. I am debating about what paintings to put in the gallery and which to take to an outdoor show I am involved in this month. Then again there is a new gallery where I have been invited to hang and how will that affect another outdoor show I do each September. I guess we just weigh all the options and do whatever seems best. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

Marian Fortunati
Best is always a fluid state of being I think... and frankly.... sadly I'd probably not recognize best if it stared me in the face!

Sue Martin
I agree with others who said you made the right decision about the family vacation. My husband was self-employeed when our boys were young and he was always reluctant to take vacation with us because "If I'm not working, I'm not making money..." He missed out on some great times and good memories. And I doubt his decision greatly increased his income. When it's the right decision, somehow everything works out.

What a great article, Keith! As you illustrated, asking the right questions is so important. In our hurry-up world, taking time to reflect and just think so often goes by the wayside, thanks to the tyranny of the urgent! I also find it hard to prioritize my art time for the most beneficial things, and I go off on lots of rabbit trails - so many things on my to-do list. As a Christian, I know I can and do consult my Father God, and He will confirm or say no to decisions placed before Him through one of His varied means of communication. Many times the hard part for me is making myself stop and pray and wait for the answer. As Jesus said to Martha, paraphrased, "One thing is essential, and Mary has chosen it". There is great security in knowing Him. I made a prayerful decision this spring to join a group of 9 other artists and start a new gallery in town after leaving classroom art teaching; it was a scary leap of faith, but I had God's confirmation, and it has worked out so beautifully for all of us! We are selling consistently in this down economic time, and most importantly, we are developing lots of new relationships with each other and our clients. I love that there is always a new adventure ahead for each of us!Thanks for all the good food for thought.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Hello Sharon:

Faith and Trust in God is very special. If we trust and ask Him to help in our decisions, He will help us make the right one.
The problem is at times, forgetting to ask Him, or thinking we should not bother Him. AND it does take a lot of faith.

Guess I just wanted to say thanks for the reminder that we can always ask God to help us with our decisions. When we do, the best is always waiting for us.

The new gallery sounds wonderful and it sounds like it has God's blessing. Congratulations!!


Carol Schmauder
Sharon: It is wonderful to see that you have faith in God and consult with Him. He blessed us with the talents we have and wants (and expects) us to increase our talent. It is never a bother to Him when we ask for guidance and direction.

May you continue to be blessed in your new gallery. Sounds wonderful.

Jana Parkes
Wonderful thoughts and questions, Keith!
I am a firm believer, like Sharon, Sandy and Carol about going to a higher power for guidance.
For me it is the still inner voice that guides my day and decisions. It continues to amaze me on how well it all turns out when I do! It certainly knows better than I what the highest good is both for me and for all.
Blessings to all, Jana

Keith Bond
Thank you Sharon for adding your comments about approaching the Lord for guidance. This is something I also do for nearly everything in my life - including art.

I do think that He wants us to come to him for guidance. But I also think He wants us to try to work out the problems in our minds first - then go to Him for confirmation.

Sometimes the answers come quickly, sometimes they take a while. Sometimes the answer is "yes", sometimes "no", and sometimes "not yet".

Sometimes it is hard to know whether the feeling is my wish or His answer. Over time, with practice, recognizing the answers through our feelings becomes easier.

Sometimes He wants us to excercise faith and take that step into the unknown. When we do, we find that the path is lit a little more with each step.

Thanks again for adding this perspective.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Oh my Keith....
Your comment and reply about God being there is beautifully expressed.

Have to tell this little story that happened last week relating to the art. Hoping not to bore anyone.
I had completed a pastel painting thinking that it would go into a particular gold frame without matting, but after trying it in the frame, it just did not seem to go well with the painting. It was like an UGH!! Even my husband said NO WAY.
I thought oh no, I cannot spend more money on framing.
I said a prayer.
I went into my studio where I keep old archival already cut mats,,,,and I kept looking and happaned to find a beautiful double mat in the EXACT odd dimensions of the painting and it looked great with the painting!! I could not believe it. How could it be the exact right size??!!!
Then I thought, uh oh, guess I am going to have to buy a frame afterall. But, still, I felt like I was being guided....I went to another area in my house where I keep more art supplies and there behind some other backing boards and frames was a beauitful soft gold frame with glass and the right width too. It had probably been leaning there for quite a few years. BUT, would it fit the outside dimensions of the mat? IT WAS PERFECT. The right size even though it was, as I said, an odd size. I am still amazed.
I had never had that mat cut for that frame. Although I do have a alot of frames and archival mats waiting around to be used, this was a case where the two just simply were not ever together...till now.
I did feel that God was there and He had Sent an Art Angel to help me.

Sorry....ohhhhhhhhh..guess I wasted everyone's time and my own in sharing that story, but I still feel someone was there helping me with that little problem. I could honestly feel it.


Carol Schmauder
I love your story, Sandy. It isn't a waste of time. If we listen to those inner whisperings and follow the promptings we will often find answers to our problems.

Tuva Stephens
This is so inspiring to read about God being so important in leading artists. I too have found that God is my best consultant always, and I just have to let go and be lead to some inspiring works that have been quite successful. I just find myself thanking God constantly for his blessings and guidance in my life. Thrilling things have happened to me the past year. I would never have thought about achieving. Thanks to all that have shared similar related comments on this subject.

Tuva Stephens
I totally agree with you Carol!

Sue Martin
I, too, love Sandy's story. I thought I needed a bulldozer to find things in my house. Prayer is a better way.

Sandy Askey-Adams
Wow, it is so very good to know that we each believe in that special help from God even in little things and ways. The warm sharing of this is such a beautiful thing.

I agree with what Keith said,,,,, that we can try to work it out in our mind and then go to God for confirmation.
We know He is there, and all we need do is ask. Sometimes just to whisper His name is all we need to do when we are feeling especially frustrated or helpless.

And this kind of faith sharing has all come from trying to make the right decisions in our art life and home/regular life.
Thank you Sharon for the reminder of Who we can go to for help in making those right decisions.
Because you shared your heart and soul, it allowed each of us to share our feelings too.

Keith, I will say, this article helps. Thanks for writing it.


Donna Robillard
It is sometimes hard to distinguish between the good and the best; but once we make that decision, we must do the best we can with it.

max hulse
Keith Establishing priorities and controlling your time are major problems and/or concerns in the life of everyone I believe.

It is critical to master these issues to some degree or a person will likely not be able to produce any volume of work on any consistent basis.

Max Hulse


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