Peril: Exposure to the risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost.
Joy: The emotion evoked by wellbeing, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.
As an artist, I have found that if I want to have a chance at success, good fortune, or the prospect of possessing what I desire, I have to risk the possibility of being injured, destroyed or lost.
An artist's life is not one of hiding in solitude and indulging in self-expression. An artist's life demands that I must expose myself, bare my heart, and risk being disliked or ignored. That's not easy for a sensitive soul, but it's what being an artist requires.
The Balboa Island Artwalk is one of the few outdoor shows that I exhibit in. I do it because of four things: the location is at the center of my subject matter—the beach, sailing, cottages, and flowers abounding.
The second factor is because of the type of people that are there. They're the same ones who like my subject matter, appreciate art, and can afford to purchase art. It may seem mercenary to some, but as an artist, it's a lot easier to sell your work if you live in an area where people can afford to buy it.
The third reason I show my work at outdoor shows is that it brings people to the , where I exhibit my work in Laguna Beach. The fourth reason I do the Balboa show is simply because I love to BE there. The view of the harbor is breathtaking and diverse. At the last Artwalk, I saw a parade of about 30 little sailboats whisk past, manned by happy children that looked to be about 10 years old! In front of them all was a huge sea lion frolicking in the sparkling water and leading them on. Even though I was involved in about three transactions at the time, I had to stop and simply absorb the joy of it.
But last years show almost didn't happen! At 9 o'clock, when I was supposed to be all set up, I was sitting in my van full of carefully-prepared paintings with my violinist partner, Paul McIntire. We were sipping hot lattes as rain was pouring down so heavily that we couldn't see out the window.
There is something to be said for maturity as an artist. As a younger artist, I would have been stressed to the max and feeling willful that the rain stop. I would be thinking of all my bills and how I was ever going to continue being an artist. But that day, I just sat there accepting the situation and laughing about it as I enjoyed my coffee with my partner, who completely understood the peril of it all.
We both read Eckhart Tolle, and he among others has taught us the wisdom of acceptance. Paul told me of gigs he'd done outside where the wind was blowing so hard that he could barely control his violin bow. He’d have to play on and with feeling, knowing how bad the moisture was for his instrument. He knows why I do what I do. He does the same thing. We are artists for the love of it, and every agony we endure is for the bliss and freedom that we find doing what we love and do best.
After an hour of enjoying the asymmetrical patterns of rain streaming down the window, as well as our delicious intimate conversation, the sun came out. Soon I was all set up, and huge colorful crowds of people were weaving up and down the bay front, enjoying all of the artists.
All day long I had people look in my eyes with such enthusiasm, saying things like, "Is this your work? I love this painting! Where did you get the inspiration for this piece?” And of course, the most welcome comment, "I want to buy this painting."
So few people know the emotional and physical peril of making a living as an artist, or the joys of it, for that matter. The determination and dedication that it takes is huge. Sometimes you have to completely change course with a direction you've been going in order to survive. Other times, it requires that you push on with even more vigor.
But I know one thing about living the life of an artist. When I come to my final transformation, I will be able to say, "I did what I loved most, and it was well worth it."
You can see my work on the website of the Watercolor Gallery by clicking here. My partner Paul plays there for some of the Laguna Beach First Thursday Artwalks too—his website is right here. And the next Balboa Island Artwalk is May 20 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Click here for more info.