Thursday, January 01, 2009
Message of Hope in the new year
Those of you who know me well know I'm a very goal oriented person. I'm always reaching for goals and typically contemplate and revise my art business goals in late October. For some reason, that has always signaled the end of a year and as I write this, I realize that my birthday is at the end of October. So it truly is the beginning of another year in my journey as an artist. Go figure, an artist walking to the beat of their own drum!
That being said, New Year's Eve has almost always been a time for me to reflect in general terms as my specific goals have already been thrown into action. And New Year's Eve is rarely about parties as my husband and I prefer a quiet evening together and last night was no exception. But what made the night different from other New Year's Eves is that we did decide to go out. We had plans to dine at a favorite Japanese restaurant and before that we stopped by a locally owned mom-and-pop fish store to buy supplies for our treasured fantail goldfishes.
Like so many other people that we know, the owners of this shop were not faring well and in fact, they were feeling very desperate. They are on the brink of failure in their business and loss of everything that they own including their home. My immediate reaction was to try to relate on a human level so I told them that we knew many who were in the same boat and that they are not alone. As we left the shop, tales of the owners losing everything and having no hope for a new future clung in the air all the way to the Japanese restaurant. It was hard to shake off.
Reading about economic horrors in the news is one thing but knowing so many people who have been touched in this economy is another and if I had to describe the feeling, it would be frightening. The events at the pet store had me thinking more in terms of what I am grateful for right now instead of what I plan to achieve next year. And to be truthful, I've been feeling grateful for an awful lot lately as I know what it's like to have struggles. We all do and it's that comparison that helps us appreciate small things in life.
Despite the hard economic times, my year as an artist was actually quite rewarding. I completed several large paintings, some being commissions. I explored a wonderful series of sugar plantation cottages paintings in oil, based on cottages seen in my travels through Kauai. Most of these paintings have sold. I had a surprisingly successful San Francisco solo show where the gallery owner sold 13 paintings in the spring. And though my art festivals felt at times like they were just a lot of work, I met a lot of wonderful people and improved the look of my display. My fine art publisher turned over a new leaf and started to promote my work more, resulting in sales. Also, I must have painted 30 commissioned chandeliers though my greatest achievement in this vein is that I figured out how to launch my very own line of glass, painted chandeliers. That was no easy feat as each of these pieces is totally custom and made from scratch. It took several months before I had a complete piece. Several of my clients snapped up these lights in the fall, including a ginormous custom piece (that I'm particularly proud of) that we installed in Reno.
And I could go on and on and on on positive things related to my art business that happened in 2008. It really wasn't a bad year though I did work hard. Who knows what 2009 holds?
From a personal level, I've felt blessed with such good friends and family to surround me like my husband, parents, brother, all of my wonderful in-laws, cousins and extended family from my husband's side. I don't want to jinx myself, but things on the home front are positive and that allows me to continue to create joyful art. Come to think of it, my biggest challenge lately has been deciding on a series of paintings to start as my inspirations are great right now and that is a challenge for an artist. The ability to choose a direction and focus on it is key to success.
Hopeful in general is how I feel most of the time though I realize that many of my contemporary artist colleagues may wash out this year, at least for a while. That is the cycle of things and nobody ever said art is an easy business. We who do art for a living do so because we feel it is the best way we can contribute to society.
With all this being said, what I think is useful to almost everyone is to list all of the things that you are thankful for, even if you are going through trying times, and try to keep those thoughts close. And that is exactly what I did last night...write a full page of things that I am thankful for.
Health, happiness and prosperity to all of you in the new year! And to those of you who feel less positive, know that times will change as change is the only thing that is certain.