Apifera Farm - where art, story, animals & woman merge. Home to artist Katherine Dunn

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©Katherine Dunn.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Grounded in a blue farm

This piece is called "Suddenly, everything turned blue". It is acrylic/collage, 12" on treated pine board, ready to hang and can be purchased on the main art site.

I've been talking to a lot of my artist friends, most of whom have been hit by the economic situation. While the cash flow is stressful enough for all of us [non artists too], our conversations have also focused on staying mentally alive and not slipping into depression. I think many artists are prone to depression, as we wear our souls close to our skins. Any long periods of draught can effect our root systems. We feel the drive to paint or draw to express ourselves, but as supporting artists, we also must sell our work to make a living. The worth of our selves can get twisted in our minds, and sometimes, that lack of sales can casually overcome one's self worth. I've been self supporting since '96, and am still here. The ebb and flow of work, and status, is part of the freelance lifestyle, and I do not intend to give it up.

The past 13 + years has given me perspective. "What can I see in this period that is beneficial, even though I could use more sales? What is the universe supplying me with that I really need, but I might not see it because I'm focusing on bills to pay?"

I paint something, it goes online, and it sells, or attracts an art director to hire me. The painting's life is complete when it ends up in the home of the buyer. It is like the punctuation mark. If it doesn't sell, it still has a life, but a life more like an 18 year old that hasn't left the nest. When it moves on, that painting will emote something in another person. And so, I am of use. I feel I have contributed. Is it ok to just paint for myself. Surely. But I take pleasure in making my living as an artist. I take pleasure in seeing my work published, and 'out there'. I don't care what you do with your art, but I sell mine. I keep a little for myself, but it's like pie, how many do I need? A long time ago, a fledgling half time non-supporting painter said to me, "Don't you feel garish selling your art?" I looked her strongly in the eyes, and said, "No". And that was the end of that discussion.

Being of use, of real use, is important to all creatures. I'm not talking doing a little vacuuming on a slow day. After talking to a lot of semi depressed creatives this month, I realized the farm has given me a means to stay grounded, because I am always needed by someone or something. Animals needing water, fences need mending, a tree needs pruning, lavender needs harvesting or weeding. These are tasks that must be done. If I don't do them, things suffer, the farm suffers, and since the farm is our skin, Martyn and I suffer. So I always have an outlet for being of service, even when my business is slow. And lucky me, I enjoy 99% of it. And I can move my arms and legs, and bend, and climb, and see, smell, breathe...at some point in my life, my body will wear down - and I'm getting as much mileage out of it when I can. Or at least until they pass Universal Health care.

I painted this piece yesterday. I felt compelled to use blue. I literally heard my head say, "Go over there and use blue, all blue." And as I painted, I heard again, "Note to self, paint in blue as long as you need to paint in blue." They say blue is a spiritual color, and I must agree. It can be sad, but in a healing way. It can be attractive, and bright, and lush. If you look closely at the night sky in the country, it is really a dark Prussian blue.

So I painted it, and now I'll sell it. Someone must need it, or I wouldn't feel the need to part with it.


Unknown said...

It's very beautiful - your blue work. What a great article - I know exactly what you mean about "pie - how many do I need?" People ask me all the time how I can bear to part with my creations but I think a large part of creating is the excitement in knowing that it will bring pleasure to another person. Hugs!

Zan Asha said...

Wow Katherine, very insightful and profound...and I do love your newest creation :)

Blackfeatherfarm said...

Thoughtful post. Your painting may be the start of your "Blue Period," but it just seems peaceful and quiet to me.

Katherine Dunn/Apifera Farm said...

Thanks for writing everyone. When I first started really painting in '96, I painted in blues, blue, blues. I had to almost force myself to use other main colors as I progressed. But I felt good returning to one main color palette on this one, so I might do some more.

Amy Schimler-Safford said...

Such a beautiful painting and poignant post about staying afloat as an artist in any economy. It is hard to not get "twisted up" as you said into whether our work is worthy, but if you can keep your head about you it is a wonderful opportunity to reflect and grow.

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Thank you for reading! The farm and my art/writing keep me hopping, so might not respond immediately. Thank you for understanding. ~Katherine & Apifera ~