Jennifer Keeney-Bleeg is a contemporary artist and freelance writer living in Bristol, England. This is her final 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.
For years, I felt some pressure to paint with the market in mind, thinking that if I could ramp up my sales and build my commission business, I could sooner justify making my art business a bigger focal point. This may have worked better for me if I had been clear at the outset about the kind of work I did – and did not – want to create and sell.
As it was in my case, I accepted a lot of commissions and invitations I probably should have passed on. I’m still working on setting boundaries and shifting them as my work evolves.
But at least now, it’s starting to feel more empowering to say “no” to a project that isn’t helping me develop my larger portfolio. It actually feels exciting, knowing that it’s leaving me time and space to create art that feels right to me.
A recent no: Next year, an organization in my city will be placing a collection of unicorn sculptures in various places around town — you may have something similar where you live. They will later be auctioned off for charity. It’s a good cause and could be a fun project.
I was asked to submit a design for consideration, which, if accepted, I would have to paint on a sculpture and then weatherproof. A year ago, I would have jumped at the opportunity even though it would have taken a huge amount of time from my studio practice. Now, the no came easier because the project just doesn’t feel quite right for me.
I would love to hear about your own artistic journey. I have found that by lifting the veil on social media and making genuine connections with each other, we can keep each other motivated and inspired amid the many ups and downs of having an art practice. Feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org or connect with me on the social media networks mentioned above.
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.
And if YOU want to apply to be an Artist Strong Artist Resident, subscribe to our weekly updates to hear about the next time applications are open.
Carrie here with a big thank you and hug for Jennifer. Thank you for sharing a bit of your behind the scenes. It’s so wonderful to have artists share their journey, both the good and the frustrating, so we can all see its normal to have ups and downs. AND, that those ups and downs don’t have to do with the quality of our art. May Jennifer’s residency give you inspiration and motivation as we move into the new year. What will 2023 look like for you?