Jennifer Keeney-Bleeg is a contemporary artist and freelance writer living in Bristol, England. This is her second installment in a four-part series as Artist Strong’s Artist in Residence.
You can view more of her art on Instagram or Facebook @jkbleeg. Visit her website at jkbleeg.com and join her monthly mailing list to be the first to get access to new releases of art.
Any painter knows that annoying stage of a piece when it just doesn’t know what it wants to be just yet. The palette clashes, the composition feels off and maybe you even consider trashing it and starting over.
I have gradually made peace with that stage in painting, pushing through and remaining patient until the final product can reveal itself. But this ugly phase also seems to apply more broadly to a painting practice too. Managing that has, for me, required a lot more patience.
This past summer when I first found out that I would be contributing some blog entries to Artist Strong, I thought the timing was really good. It had been a solid year for my art practice at that point: Two of my paintings had been accepted into art books in the U.S. and in my adoptive city of Bristol, England. A gallery with several locations around the world had approached me about showing floral paintings on a continuous basis in their Amsterdam location – and the first two shipments of my work were selling well there. I had established a small but loyal network of great clients who had become friends.
But…that’s generally when the devil on my shoulder likes to sneak into the party uninvited and cough on the buffet table. Does that happen to you?
Those promising early months of the year were followed by several in which it was difficult to get to the studio at all. In August, we closed on a house in England – our first here after renting for seven years – and settling in has been a long and laborious process involving seemingly endless construction, living out of suitcases, having no idea where anything is, and being told that a large container of furniture we shipped from the U.S. was inexplicably “lost.”
When I did get to spend time in the studio, I took my stress with me and I hated everything I painted. My gallery sales slowed way down. Impostor syndrome began to kick in. (See, silly? Those good things that happened at the start of the year were really just flukes. Sorry!)
But then I remembered that these ups and downs have always been part of my art practice and business. Sometimes the work sells fast and the next month it doesn’t sell at all. Some days the work flows out of me and other days I need to give it more time.
I’m still working through the ugly parts of having an art business and trusting they will pass if I just continue to show up and do the work. (Steven Pressfield’s book, The War of Art, has helped reinforce this way of thinking for me. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it.)
Every month, 1-3 artists show up in our Artist Strong community to share their artistic process, journey, explorations with us over the course of a month.
The goal is to normalize the MANY, VARIED experiences of being an artist.
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