Artists should strike a balance between being paid for their artwork and donating to the arts. We want to be paid so that we can continue to buy art supplies and pay our bills, but it’s also important to give back to the art community that inspires and encourages your professional growth. That’s why I support local and international art organizations and museums with my membership dues and donations.
One of those organizations is the Portrait Society of America. For the past two years they have asked me to donate a 6×9″ painting to be included in their very popular conference fundraiser titled “6 x 9: Limited Size – Unlimited Talent: A Mystery Art Sale”. The program features 6×9″ panels painted by previous award recipients, faculty, and other nationally known artists, so I’m honored to be asked to participate along side such well respected peers. Attendees at the conference have the opportunity to purchase the pieces, at a prix fixed price, and the artist’s name is revealed only after the purchase. The piece I painted for them this year is a pair of toe shoes from a neighbor’s collection of prima ballerina slippers she has collected over many years. I really enjoyed painting them, and to top it off I bumped into the buyer as I was walking through the International Exhibition at the convention. I was looking at one painting and in the process of passing a family to see the next piece when a woman announced, “Oh, you’re the artist whose painting I bought.” It was so nice to meet the family and know that my artwork was appreciated.
I also have donated my time to the convention’s portfolio critique sessions for the past two years. Artists bring their portfolios to the convention and stand in line for a free critique (or two if they stand in line several times). I love to teach, and critiquing portfolios is simply teaching in a very small time frame. I applaud all the artists that stand in that line. They do it knowing that a critique is not a pat on the back. They also understand that it isn’t simple criticism. It is instruction on what to keep doing and what to start doing differently. Most of them realize their artwork will not improve if they only seek praise. I was so pleased this year to actually have artists sit down with me and say, “Don’t hold anything back. I’m here to learn.” So I poured as much information as I could into those artists before the monitor came around to deliver the next person in line. These artists have deposited their soul onto canvas or paper and are mature enough to know that peer reviews can help further the mastery of their trade. Their enthusiasm enriched my conference experience more than they know. Some of them even posted nice notes to my Facebook page. Artists are truly a courageous and generous bunch.
Are you just out there creating art? Try sharing yourself and your talent. Give back to the community that is helping you grow in this wonderful profession and see how it is paid back to you in double portions.