Getting out of my own way
So, here's the thing that makes me crazy about doing these plein air events... Me, I make myself nuts. Didn't used to, it was all fun with a side of stress. Now it's just stress with a small side of fun. I'm always doing the math in my head, how much did I spend to get there, how much do I have to sell to make that back (after the venue's cut), are my prices too high or too low and do my frame choices suck again this time? and after a couple of events coming up in the red, one can get a little anxious about the whole thing. And that's not the part of it that really messes with me, that's just being a business person. It's the whole comparative thinking thing... and I do it almost every time now. I get half way through an event and see some painter who is just killing it and I get all twerked about it and not in the fun Mylee Cyrus way.
At Door County a few months back I had a big (though private) whiny-baby ego tailspin attack after I saw some of the initial work of some new guy I'd never heard of that was really damn good. Mark Boedges. He definitely is a really good artist, great drawing, brushwork, color, edges, etc. But it's not like he's the first artist I've seen that I felt was better than me... there's a million of 'em. I paint with Randy Sexton all the time and I consider him to be a demi-god, for sure he has demi-god in his lineage somewhere, like maybe his grandfather on his mothers side was the result of some pairing of a beautiful woman and Zeus disguised as a pony, but he doesn't get to me. Might be because I accepted long ago that Randy has a few more lumens than me. And that's fine because I love the guy, he's just a joy to be around and he has ZERO ego.
But there's always someone on a trip that trips me up; Scott Christensen just in general, Roger Dale Brown in Maine, Josh Been in Grand Canyon, Garin somebody in Easton.... so I got to thinking about it and it's not really them, it's just me. I'm allowing a negative model to run my ship. So what if they are better, there's always someone better. And as good as any of them are, they, sir, are no John Singer Sargent, let's just put that in perspective right now. And I can't even tell you how many artists that I admire that have come up to me and said how much they admire my work... or was it my shirt... no, definitely the work, except that one guy. Does that register? No, because of negative framing. And here's my theory about that. If you believe you are gonna fail, you probably will. If you believe you will succeed you may not but your chances will be a lot better. It's my more pragmatic (and reality based) version of "The Secret" (don't get me started about that).
Success is a mental state.... lesson number 1. Second lesson, never show up to a knife fight with a mop. Show up to a competition (or anything for that matter) prepared with the tools you are familiar with. I ordered a huge box of centurion panels because I've heard a lot about them, never having used them before.... it did not go well. The surface was fighting me the whole way which was a big NFL pile on to my already flagging sense of self-worth. Oh, and at Door County, Mr. Boedges sold everything he did, I sold one. Do I care? Heck yeah. But on a positive note, I've decided to tear up my "People I have to kill to move up list", it's just too much work.
So here's a synopsis of my errors..
1) Comparing myself to others in the not so good way. Go for positive.
2) Show up with tools that I am unfamiliar with.
3) Putting crappy frames on my work, even if it does cost more, it's worth a better presentation.
4) Getting painties in a wad about pricing. There's always someone more expensive and certainly someone cheaper.
5) I should have bought gold when that guy told me to in 2008.
As my father used to say to me "Do as I say, not as I do". I swear he said that.