An Artist's Life

Robin Wethe Altman

The Festival of Arts in Laguna Beach helped me with a scholarship to Principia College. My Art professor in college was James Green who studied with the California Regionalists in the 40s. I've learned how to market my artwork. I love the freedom of diversity.

This blog is about the thoughts and feelings that I have related to creating the art that I do. I share my process, problems, inspirations and victories. I am a professional artist in Southern California and my partner is a professional electric violinist. We are in our 50's and are loving life!

The Joy and Peril of Self Promotion, or "The outdoor weekend show".

  • Harbor Sunset

    Harbor Sunset

    Original Watercolor 25" x 40" by Robin Wethe Altman

Definition of PERIL

1: exposure to the risk of being injured, destroyed, or lost.

and this is the definition of the word "joy:
a : the emotion evoked by well-being, 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, my heart and risk being disliked or ignored. That's not easy for a sensitive soul, but its what being an artist requires.

Yesterday was one of the few outdoor weekend shows that I exhibit in. I do it because of three things: the location "Balboa Island" (near Newport Beach CA) is at the center of my subject matter: The beach, sailing, cottages and flowers abounding. The second factor is because of the people that are there. They like those same subjects, they appreciate art and they can afford to purchase art. It may seem mercenary to some, but as an artist it is a lot easier to sell your work if you live in an area that can support what you do. The third reason I love to do the Balboa show is simply because I love to BE there. The view of the harbor is breathtaking and diverse. Several times yesterday a parade of little sailboats whisked by us. They were all tied together and manned by children that looked to be about 7 years old! They were pulled by a bigger boat with more experienced sailors! In front of them all the was a huge sea lion playing in the lapping water. Even though I was involved in about 3 transactions at the time, I had to stop and simply take it the joy of it.

But this show almost didn't happen! At nine o'clock when I was supposed to be all set up, I was sitting in my van full of carefully prepared artwork with my musician partner Paul sipping hot lattes as rain was pouring down so heavily 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 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 yesterday I just sat there "accepting" and laughing about the situation and I enjoyed my hot coffee with my partner who completely understood the "peril". We both read "Eckhart Tolle" and he amoung 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 hardly control his violin bow. He knows why I do what I do. He does the same thing. We are artists for the love of it.

An hour later the sun came out and soon I was all set up with huge colorful crowds of people going up and down the bay front enjoying all of the artists. All day long I had people look in my eyes with such enthusiasm, "Is this YOUR work?, are you the artist?? ... 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". I'm sitting here writing this with tears in my eyes. So few people know the emotional and physical peril of making a living as an artist. 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 lving the life of an artist, when I come to the ultimate transformation I will be able to say, "it was worth it".

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