A big thank you to the Gathered Gallery for having me as the Digital Artist in Residence these past four weeks. 2020 has been a weird year for all of us, but I have oddly been very productive and I have had some amazing experiences. All this with a back drop of masks, social distancing and a general uneasiness.
I am blessed to be part of a very supportive art community in Newfoundland & Labrador and even more blessed to be part of a very tight knit indigenous art community in this province. I see my fellow artists as Kin and don’t feel a sense of competition. I instead am trilled for anyone’s success and proud they are producing work they enjoy. I truly believe it costs nothing to be kind and kindness is often reciprocated.
My grandfather taught me that opportunity doesn’t knock. Opportunity instead just walks down the street and it’s up to you to recognize him, go grab him and invite him in for a cup of tea. I have based my art career on this sentiment. I seek out opportunities and try to put myself in positions were a small success leads to another and then another. That doesn’t mean I jump at every opportunity. I will not be painting your cat for “exposure”. (I checked... my bank doesn’t accept exposure.)
As an artist you have to trust your instincts, which also means learning when to say no. It can be difficult at times, but I remind myself that painting is a joyful experience. Thus, I don’t take on commissions or projects that don’t bring me that joy. Yes, I do want to get paid, but feel if you stick to what you believe and if your work has merit, payment will come. Your market will find you.
There is a spiritual quality to making marks. We all have come to our artistic practices because as a child we loved to make marks. Remind yourself of this occasionally. Remember why you wanted to create in the first place. There is a point where the world goes away and it’s just about line, colour and the movement of your hand. Embrace that. Yes, you will struggle and yes, you will fail. I have never, ever gotten what’s in my head down on canvas; yet I continue to try. That’s part of the challenge of being a painter. My best painting will always be the next one.
Wela’lin, thank you