Taking it to the next level
My husband and I have been folling a simple living lifestyle for over 17 years.
During the past two years we have downsized our home and we are living in a mobile home on rented land with a river view in a quite neighborhood on the outskirts of our city. We are about a 35 min bike ride from city center in one direction and 35 min ride to farm land in the other. It is very peaceful here, with just enough community within our neighborhood to keep us happy and socially connected.
We have eliminated many superfluous items such as furniture, books, plants, clothing and kitchen items and are in the process of reducing activities that require us to attend board and planning meetings....ending our committment to two groups at the end of the calendar year. All of which aligns well with our simple living/minimalist lifestyle.
My husband now works from home 50% of the time with us sharing one car. This requires that we bike more places and since the car is a lease, we are more intentional about how often we just take off and drive somewhere. To making doing things by bike easier we have invested in traditional and insulated pannier bags. Going car light has been a blessing and something we wish we had considered doing sooner.
The next step for me is making a choice to cut back on my exhibition schedule. For those who don't know me, I am a pen and ink artist and generally exhibit my work 10 months out of the year. Currently I have work in one museum (one state away), one gallerly (one state away) and one local gallery in my city. September will bring a weekend show in the next town over and Oct-Dec my work will be in a group exhibit at one of the local hospitals.
I am finding that preparing my work (matting and framing, photographing, scanning, updating website etc..) meeting with gallery owners, establishing and maintaining relationships with gallery owners and other artists (involves a bit of travel) doing promotional work for news outlets and social media, and entering juried shows, entering competitions etc.. to be taxing, stressful and it takes time away from the pure enjoyment of creating. I find myself at a point where I now think about what show I need work for and producing work for specific shows, rather than just creating for the sake of creating. The joy of the creative process is being lost in the shuffle of the business of doing art.
In talking with other professional artists, the business of doing art is not something any of them enjoy. They too find it stressful and time consuming in a way that makes them keep the next exhibit in the forfront of their minds as they create. So my experience isn't unusual.
That said, the next step I feel I need to take is to remove myself from the active art scene and focus on creating. I will be stepping down from art organization memberships, from working on art commitees, and keeping a full exhibition schedule. I have two exhibits scheduled already for next year. A two person show in April (next town over) and the September weekend show (next town over. Those will most likely be my only physical exhibits for 2020. I may enter a couple of online exhibits and competitions to keep my name and artwork out there, but the business of those is typically handled by the organization hosting the online exhibit/competition and they do all the promotional work for you. Plus there is no need for matting and framing work, just high quality photo files.
Now to my question. Being an active gallery artist has been a part of my identity for so long, I am not sure how to deal with the response my stepping back will get from gallery owners, other artists and the art community in general. Has anyone, for the sake of simplifying their lives, stepped back from what people identified you as? How did those in the field respond? How did you feel? Did you loose your identity or regain it?