Sunday, September 26, 2010


6 days ago (last Monday morning) I woke up wondering why I bothered being a "professional" artist. I had been discouraged due to a combination of summer show rejections, job rejections, and started questioning my personal art style, asking myself if what I was doing with my art was inspiring me (and everyone else for that matter) enough. I live with an ongoing battle between myself and my inner critic and we just can't seem to find a balance. It felt as if I was at an all time low... knowing if I chose to switch careers at the age of 50+ the challenges were not going to be any easier in this big, bad, depressing job market.

Things changed as the week progressed.

I had been told before last weekend that my watercolor class didn't have enough enrollment to run, but over the weekend several additional people had signed up and Monday morning my supervisor called asking if I was still available to teach. Of course I was!

On Tuesday I received an email from one of the instructors I had while I was in graduate school, asking me if I was available to come in and teach several workshops from lesson plans I had written. She specifically asked if I could share and demonstrate these lessons. Things were definitely turning around for me.

Wednesday I was able to enjoy these recently acquired positive vibes and started to feel like maybe being a "professional" artist wasn't so hopeless after all. I decided to finish working on an encaustic painting using various shades of blue, inspired by the show prospectus for BLUE this October, an open regional show at the Cambridge Art Association.

"Fly Me to the Moon", encaustic painting

Thursday I picked up a copy of our local, weekly paper only to discover that the reporter for the arts and entertainment section did use the information and painting image I sent her, announcing the introduction of my newest body of work at the upcoming Columbus Day weekend show (you can never get enough PR and it definitely helps to be a big fish in a little sea!) 

That evening I taught the first watercolor class of the fall session and I have a wonderful group of new students. I look forward to the next class when I can get into greater depth teaching watercolor painting and techniques. Then one last boost, on Friday morning I received an email from the president of the Swampscott Arts Association telling me I had won 2nd prize in the fall show. She proceeded to tell me that my encaustic piece won the award although the judges also loved my watercolor painting but did not want to award the same artist 2 ribbons in one show.

"Tall Trees",  encaustic image transfer and 2nd place at the SAA show

Yesterday I had to spend the day taking the MTEL tests, communication and literacy written and reading tests in the morning, and the visual arts test in the afternoon. Massachusetts requires all public school teachers to be certified and passing these tests is mandatory. I had been warned that it's not unusual to fail and that there is no limit to how many times you can retake the tests. I felt like I did OK in the morning but I was totally shocked at how difficult the visual arts test was for me! Fortunately, I am not holding a job that requires me to be certified and the college level position I am seeking out does not require I take these tests. I admit I think I signed up for the tests because I am a glutton for punishment (results won't be in until end of October and if I didn't pass it will be humbling but a non-issue).

What a week that started off down and depressing...  became action packed, exciting, and exhausting. I seem to have this ongoing pattern in my life that I should try to remember... right when I reach a point where I want to give up and find an entirely new career, it is only then when good, positive things come back to haunt me and encourage me to continue. I also need to remember to acknowledge that the economy and current job market trends are effecting everyone, especially us "starving artists". I need to remind myself and everyone else too, that we all just need to keep the faith.


  1. Great post. You are so right, we have to stick with the ebb and flow of our life and as artists this seems to occur more often than not. I'm glad everything worked out so well for you. You deserve it!

  2. Congratulations! Times five, at least.

    Maybe it's the season; for me nothing quite worked out as hoped this past month. (My PR photo for the library show did not appear in the local paper, and I got stuck in a traffic jam in a really small town.) I'm hoping October will bring a change.

  3. I agree with Hallie, it must be the season... I'm feeling it too.

    I've noticed that it's ALWAYS darkest just before the dawn. I'm so glad you did not allow the darkness to do anything other than give you pause for a few minutes. Now you can enjoy the dawn. Congratulations on having such a wonderful, productive, rewarding week. Your hard work and dedication are paying off.

    My fingers are crossed on your test results...


  4. Wait a minute! I forgot to mention how much I LOVE "Fly Me to the Moon". It is wonderful! Good luck with it for the show. What size is it?


  5. Eva, one of the hardest thing for us creative people to do is remember to trust ourselves and that ebb and flow especially when times are tough. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Hallie, you ought to visit my town; never much traffic, just a big ocean across the street and plenty of room for fellow artist fishes to swim together! I love October and autumn colors, change is in the air.

    Don, I have to forget about the tests now that it's over with, until end of October when I can access unofficial scores online, but I am patting myself on the back just for the fact that I actually went and took the tests. (I tried to cancel and get a refund a week before but couldn't!) The new encaustic is 8" x 8", glad you like it. Photographing encaustics is a real challenge because of the glare and there are intense layers of blue wax that don't translate on a computer monitor but I am hoping it gets into the show. Thanks for the kind words.

  6. Robin, I finally got a chance to stop by. My heart sank as I read your first paragraph and then, it just kept getting better and better! I'm thrilled for you and it sounds like you are going to be tremendously busy. Well deserved!
    Business(not art related)for my husband and I has been tough too with this economy. But we just keep plugging along. One thing we've learned is that nothing ever stays the same for long. If it were easy, everyone would do it.
    Your latest encaustic is gorgeous! I look forward to reading about your continued, hard earned successes.

  7. Pam, plugging along is the best option, what's the alternative? giving up is just not my style! TY for your continued support, I love that we can do that for each other through our blogging.

  8. Hi, Robin! I found your blog via Deborah Youngalo's page and am looking forward to following your work! I am fascinated by encaustic and your paintings are just so rich and lovely and I especially love connecting with other local artists. Living near Providence RI now but previously lived and worked in Rockport (at the Art Assoc!) Good luck in Northampton - wishing you great weather and lots of sales! Wish I could go... I LOVE it out there!! :) Happy painting! - Joanna

  9. Hi Joanna,
    I am glad to "meet" you and I have to ask, what did you do at the Rockport Art Assoc.? I have a friend from graduate school who lives in Rockport, she is the art teacher at the high school. (I rarely go out there these days but I used to have some prints and notecards for sale on Bearskin Neck at The Floating Lotus). Sorry you can't make it to Northampton it's usually a great show mainly because they do tons of PR and people always come, mostly to look, a reason I made an entirely new body of work (the small encaustics). I am sure I will be blogging about it.
    Glad to have you following.

  10. Robin that conversation you had with yourself is the same one I have more often than I care to mention! I can't tell you many times I've vowed that I'm done with art shows or I'm going to get a'real' job. But things do have a way of turning around if we keep on keepin' on. I'm so glad that things did a major turnaround for you and in such a short time! You absolutely deserve it.

    I love 'Fly Me'! I can visualize this tiny dragonfly huffing and puffing all the way to the moon. The moon looks so distant now but I bet he'll make it if he just keeps flying. A good metaphor for us artists!

  11. Deborah, we are compelled to make art and we are passionate about it; that is why we do it even though all of the consistent and constant hard work does not always reflect financially. But I believe we have a spiritual reward that is irreplaceable. I think it helps knowing we all share some of these same feelings. And so we keep doing it.

  12. Hi Robin,

    I love your art and you are an inspiration for me. So many of us are struggling with our art and whether we can make it be a bigger circle in our lives....I admire you so much because you walk the walk. I love your encaustic work (especially the pathways) and of course, I will always love your watercolors. The tall trees is beautiful. Keep going! Hope to see you around at some shows this spring and summer.