The past few weeks I’ve been trying to sell my art the local farmers market. Each time, I pack a tent, table, chair, drawing supplies, prints and originals and drive a few miles to St. Paul’s UCC and set up a little display of my work across from the produce stands. There’s a decent-sized crowd of people thanks to the church setting up various and sundry activities—from a petting zoo to a classic car show to kite day. And I sit and work on a new drawing every week while people stop by and check out what I’m doing.
I have things to sell, but no one is buying.
I have thought, “well, it’s a farmer’s market, people don’t come to a farmer’s market to buy art.” This is probably true. That’s why I’ll be trying a craft fair or two soon, but this also happened at the Let Them Eat Art festival (an event for which I invested in A LOT of prints. After that I got really bummed out. I thought no one liked my work, despite the scores of people who came by and said they did.
At LTEM a friend of mine came by and gave me an early birthday present: a copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book Big Magic, a book about living a creative life. I’m a slow reader so it took me a little while to start reading, but then I couldn’t put it down. And in that book, part of EG’s journey was the dedication to being a writer. . . she promised herself that she would always be a writer, but she never promised herself that she’d be successful—she’d do it because it was what she had to do.
We’re taught that if you build it they will come, when really. . . they might not.
So I’m going to build it anyway. I’m going to sit and draw at the farmer’s market, because that’s what makes me happy. I am going to try like crazy to sell the prints I have from before, but I’m not going to fret about it. This could easily become a sob story about being burned by my own hubris, or a diatribe about how society doesn’t patronize the arts, but it isn’t. It’s my declaration that I’m going to keep making things. Even if no one buys them, or in the case of my writing reads them. I’m going to make because making things makes me happy.
Which leads me, sort of, to my my recent drawing: the meditating yogi.
While at the farmer’s market a kind woman has stopped by several times and talked to me my work and about these pastels she has at home that she doesn’t know what to do with. She’s sweet and I hope I’m as spry when I’m 80. She asked me about commissions. I hesitantly asked what she had in mind. She said her daughter was turning 50 in October and she’s a yoga instructor. She asked about a drawing with a “yoga person” with the name Barbra and 50 on it. I bristled at the name and age, but told her the idea was intriguing. The next week, she arrived as I was setting up. I showed her the stencil and paper and described my idea. I told her it would be finished by the next week and that I’d be working on it all morning. She came back to see my progress and was pleased it seemed.
I made the decision that I’d draw it, and if she liked it great, and if not I had fun. Fortunately, it fit in with my love of meditation and my own dabbling in yoga.
I’m not going to stress about selling my work any more—I don’t make a living with my art and I kind of hope I never do. I want it to always be for love.