Thursday, April 28, 2011

Christmas Comes Early

I was looking through an old sketch book of mine when I came across the plans for a Twelve Days of Christmas triptych. For those of you who don’t know what a triptych is, it’s when you do three paintings that COULD stand on their own individually, but look so much better when they are side-by-side. Kind of like the Kardashians.
I’m wondering why I abandoned the idea when I hear the droning voice of Alan Rickman in my head.
“You abandoned it because you couldn’t possibly pull it off,” the Manipulator says.
“Bullshit,” I respond. “I can do anything.”
“I don’t think so. Look at your last attempt at landscape. DIdn’t turn out so well, did it?”
I glance over at one of my paintings and cringe.
“See?” the Manipulator gloats at me. “Any attempt to cram 78 items into 3 paintings AND include any kind of landscape would be torturous for both you and the few viewers you might get.”
“Hmmm. Maybe you’re right,” I agree. Then I put the sketchbook down.
A few hours later The Wife comes home. She steps into the studio and gives me a kiss on the cheek. I smile and get back to what I was doing; putting the finishing touches on ‘Tear Down the Day’. I slip into my own little world for a few moments before I hear The Wife say,
“Hey, this looks like a huge project.”
I look over and see her holding the sketchbook. “Yeah,” I hear Alan Rickman say with my mouth. “But it’s a little too huge for me.”
The Wife frowns. “That’s not true. You could totally do it. It would be like ‘Sirens.’”
“Nah. No one will like it.”
Her frown deepens. She smells the Manipulator. I am not alone in my hatred of him. “That’s bullshit, Staton.” She always calls me by my last name when I’m being an idiot. She’s not the only one.
“Damn right, Staton,” I hear Captain Artist yell in that Keith David voice. “Why don’t you grow a pair and quit being such a…”
“…baby,” The Wife is saying. “You already have it sketched out.”
“Hell, son, you’ve done most of the damned work!” Captain Artist says.
“And,” The Wife continues, “it looks like fun! I bet you can get a ton of people to pose for you.”
“Are you two talking together?” I ask weakly.
“What?” The Wife says.
“What?” Keith David says.
“Never mind."

"You think I can really do it?”
“Hell yeah,” they exclaim in unison.
“I mean, I have already done a lot of the work. The idea is right there on paper. It’s a lot of animals, though. Where am I going to find a partridge?”
“Figure it out,” The Wife says.
“Loser,” Captain Artist adds.
“What about the Tarot series?” The Manipulator asks. “I was going to start that next and it’s pretty big, too.”
“SONOVABITCH!” Captain Artist yells. “Are you a self-employed, honest-to-God entrepreneur, or are you a god-damned prissy pants?!”
“Did you just say…”
“Are you a rockin’, sockin, paint-selling motherfucker, or are you a stinking little art weasel?”
“Ok, now you’re just being…”
“Do you WANT to eat pork and beans from a can and have your wife leave you in the middle of the night with your kids tucked away in the side car of your motor bike? The one she bought you for Christmas last year?”
“I don’t have a…”
“ANSWER ME, YOU LITTLE PUKE!” he roars in my head. “Do you WANT to grow old and pose for a painting done by Thomas Kinkaide called ‘This Guy is an Old Loser Who Never Amounted to Anything’??? Do you WANT to…”
“Fine! I’ll paint the damned thing.”
The Wife smiles. “Good. You’ll be glad you did.”
I watch her as she starts to leave the studio. “Are you sure you can’t hear him?”
“Hear who?” she asks, looking a little worried.
“Never mind.” I turn back to the canvas.
“You’re so weird sometimes,” I hear her say as she leaves the room.
“You’re so weird sometimes,” I hear Captain Artist whisper somewhere in the back of my mind.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Little Discipline

Discipline is not just something to do to someone with a ball-gag in their mouth. You have to produce. You have to market. You have to paint. I have to paint.
It’s a passion. We all have one. Most of us have multiple passions. If you don’t know what your passion is hit me up and I’ll help you find it. Seriously. I’m getting pretty good at it. Gimme an hour and we'll get to the bottom of that thing which makes you get up every morning...and then I'll paint it for you so that you always have a visual reminder of it.
But, enough about you...
I would paint even if no one paid me to do it. But, I WANT people to pay me to do it. Getting paid to do that which you love most in life is as worthwhile an endeavor as one can hope to achieve. And to be paid enough so that you don’t need to work for anyone else is the dream of every entrepreneur. That is where discipline comes in. 
My mentor is a beautiful woman with red hair and great posture. I’ve never seen Mentor dressed in anything that wasn’t elegant or business-like, even while she painted. And I’ve never seen her with a drop of paint on any of her clothing. Mentor does not sugar-coat things, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Her latest admonition to me was:
“Geraud, you do not paint enough.”
“You’re telling me,” I said.
“I’m serious. You don’t paint nearly enough.”
“I have a full-time job. I can’t paint as much as I would like.”
She crossed her arms. “That’s bullshit.”
I blubbered something that sounded like, “Jibba-whuu??”
“I crunched the numbers. You need to be doing about 50 paintings a year.”
She explains to me how easy the formula is, and then she starts writing out calculations so complex I thought of Dangerous Minds…no, wrong movie. A Beautiful Mind. No. The one with Russell Crowe, not the one with Michelle Pfieffer. The formula works like this:
If I want to make $50,000 a year as a painter, and I make an average of $1000 per painting sold, then I need to do 50 paintings. Seems simple, until you start adding in commissions, what percentage of paintings I sell versus how many I create, etc. It works out that I should be doing nearly 75 paintings a year. Mentor says that 50 is a good place to start.
“Who does that?” I ask.
“Successful artists.” She stares at me.
“How many do YOU paint?”
“A dozen or so.”
“How do you get to paint so few and I have to paint my balls off?”
“When you make $25,000 a painting you can paint less than 50.” I could smell the smug pride radiating from her.
I gaped, swallowed, then managed to say, “Jibba-wuhh???”

I’ve taken her advice to heart. I’m completing a painting a week, and it is not easy. If I do a smaller painting than I need to do two of them each week. Last night I was up until 1am composing two paintings that I’m very excited about. I’m revisiting ‘The Good Old Days’ series that I had done, which included CroneGeezerDistinguished Gentleman, and Captivated, two of which have already sold. I spent another couple of hours doing some preliminary sketches. I went to bed at 1am and I've given myself until Sunday to complete both of them.
I spent this morning composing another painting, and spent a few minutes before work doing some sketches of it. This one is a stand alone piece, and it's going to be HUGE, two kids on carousel horses. That'll be next weeks painting.
And now it’s a little after 11 o’clock. Most of you are curled up in your beds, spooning your mate, or sleeping on a diagonal so you can enjoy the entire bed, or sleeping on the edge of your bed so your mutt can sleep comfortably.
Me? I’m gonna start putting one of these paintings on canvas tonight. And I’ll get up at 6am and go to work just like all the other adults. And I’ll be tired. Maybe exhausted.
The difference is that I’ll be exhausted from doing something I love.
Just be warned: if you ask me any questions before I’ve had a couple cups of coffee the most likely response you’ll get from me will be a blank stare and a, “Jibba-wuhh?” If so, try to cut me a little slack. I'm being disciplined.