Bringing up baby. The agony and ecstacy of creating an artwork

Creating a new Artwork is much like being a new mum. It’s painful, it’s exhausting, it’s frustrating but the pain and sacrifice is worth it in the end. But letting go of an artwork is another story…

I think you would agree that most artists illustrate the consciousness of mankind.  Love, hate, the landscapes, relationships, depression, anxiety, belief, faith,war, social history and politics are documented through art.

And ever since man first drew hands in a cave, artists have been creating artworks to illustrate life on Earth.

But much like a baby, creating a new artwork demands attention, and artists have to accept they are in this for the long haul. Being an artists not an easy path to follow, just ask Edvard Munch, Francesco Goya and Van Gogh.

But when an artwork is finished/brought forth/born, the sense of satisfaction and achievement is immense. And we artists experience the same sense of pride and elation as a new mum who’s just gone through hours of labour to produce a perfect little human being.

Happy days!

But then…what happens when the time comes to sell or give an artwork away?

As my skill as an artist has improved over the years, the more attached I’ve become with my paintings (well most of them…)

To illustrate this, a few weeks ago I accidentally left my sketch book in a shopping outlet whilst out shopping with my sister. We were at the checkout when I realised I’d left it behind.

If one of your children gets lost at the airport, you’ll relate to that terrible feeling of dread and panic. My sister Liz and I were running around like a couple of demented idiots trying to find my sketch book! (Thankfully it was still where I’d left it, but it contained arguably my most important sketch).

This only served to reinforce my anxiety at parting with any of my artworks, was gonna be a challenge.

The agony began.

To be completely honest, I’ve been grappling with this challenge for months.

It got to the point where I said to myself “whateverrrr I’ll keep all my artworks. Why do I want to be an artist anyway, I’m so over it!”

Who was I kidding?

I’ve compared selling an artwork with that heart-wrenching moment when you’re first born flies off to University.

If you’re a parent you’ll probably relate to that empty feeling you experience when number one son leaves home. You’re left to console yourself with a bottle of Pino Grigio, and scoffing a family size box of Maltesers, whilst tidying up his bedroom. This storyline even appears in Toy Story.

Meanwhile your boy is already out on the lash with ‘The Bro’s’ without a backward glance.

Your significant other retreats behind a newspaper whilst throwing genuine sympathetic glances your way. Although he wouldn’t dare admit to secretly rejoicing at the vastly reduced food, gas and electricity bills since your son flew the nest.

But when your sole reason for living (almost) has up and left. You feel like shit!

For many artists, it really is just as painful to let go of an artwork.

To deal with this problem, I haven’t been hitting the bottle by the way, but I have been posting on Facebook Art Groups and asking my friends and family for advice. I’d even considered counselling! It’s been a MASSIVE dilemma.

“What’s wrong with me!?”

The majority of my fellow creatives, who were kind enough to join the conversation, really related to this feeling and were very helpful. I wasn’t alone after all.

I wasn’t a total loser.

But, did selling an artwork mean grieving for weeks crying into my corn flakes every morning?

Did it mean total desolation at the void that remained from the absent masterpiece?

I didn’t sign up for that.

But after a lot of soul-searching I was given some really sage advice. And thankfully I think I’m getting over it. Almost.

Now that doesn’t mean I’m not happy to take the money when someone buys one of my paintings. But when you produce something which is the essence of eternity, love, passion or reverence how can you put a price on that? Especially something you’ve poured your heart into?

And, like every parent who’s ever stood at the front gate waving Tarquin off to travel the world, there is light at the end of the tunnel. An upside if you will.

I share below the advice I was given. It’s given me hope that things get better eventually, because as one door closes, another door opens…

Here are 7 really good reasons to sell an artwork:-

  1. It sounds corny but selling art is part of an artist’s journey. Many artists feel a pang of sadness when parting with an artwork for the first time.
  2. Make a few limited edition prints and only sell those pieces you really can’t face letting go of. Print a copy of your favourites. Find a good photographer and on online printer.
  3. Share the lurve! By keeping your artworks to yourself,  you’re depriving others of the joy you feel when you look at your artworks. And who knows what adventures await your paintings, or indeed YOU, once your artworks are sold.
  4. Some artists used the phrase “as long as it goes to a good home“. This made me think that they feel, as I do, that an artwork is almost part of the family. Something more than paint on Canvas. Many artworks are handed down through the generations and create a legacy to live on long into the future.
  5. Selling an art is actually part of the process of growing and developing as an artist. When you let go of an artwork you are then forced to think ‘what next’? Finish one and start planning the next. There’s still lots to explore.
  6. With each project you evolve as a painter, and will take each lesson learnt into the next project. No time to stand and stare or rest in your laurels, crack on with the next masterpiece!
  7. Some artists think about what a sale could get them, i.e more art materials or even one day a new car. And you know what? Why not?! Having financial goals and aspirations is a good thing!

So to conclude – it still feels strange to sell a precious artwork but, like all parents out there seeing their children out into the world, one day I will let my creations go, but will feel proud that I played my part in creating a masterpiece!

2 Comments

  1. Elizabeth

    Oh I feel you pain sweety. So very well put…be brave x

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