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Exhibiting Introduction: The First Leap Of Faith

Taking the leap into exhibiting your first body of work can be either daunting and/or a natural progression from being in the studio. It all depends on you.
Exhibiting can be seen as solely a part of the creative process, in that if you can deal in a positive way with the commercial reality of selling your art, by having a gallery do it for you or by doing it yourself, where you can be proactive with gallery directors and staff or the general public and collectors, then you will be a natural.

In certain ways this needs you to think laterally when approaching galleries as well as when it comes to any form of business negotiations related to selling your work in general.
One mistake many young or relatively new artists have, is to be over emotional with their work once it is completed. I have stopped counting the Continued…

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The importance of meditation and a conscious spiritual life

Developing a regular meditation practice in my life has been imperative to maintaining a strong sense of my own spiritual identity – which in turn influences my identity and clarity as an artist. This has helped me no end in understanding the contradictions of the art world and my place in the broader scheme of things.

When I am confronted by my own judgements, particularly in relation to ‘vast amounts of angst ridden neurosis masquerading as art’, this daily meditation practice helps me to expand my understanding of my world and to be curious, rather than dismissive. In this way I develop compassion for the artist’s endeavour and I am better able to understand and accept my own journey.
Meditation and personal development gives me solace when times are times are hard and peace when the alternative is a constantly chattering mind that inhibits my artistic expression. Somehow my spiritual Continued…

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The positives and negatives of having a benefactor

Over the years I, like most artists, have found various ways to fund the creation of my art. There have been many instances when I have managed to supplement gallery sales with contras, art auctions, gifts and myriad short-term jobs to help make ends meet.

At one stage I had a generous benefactor, who freed me from financial encumbrances. One of my most successful exhibitions to date, which occurred during my early career in a well-known public gallery, was the direct result of the privilege of having a benefactor.
A review by a noted art critic, about this exhibition said:
Occasionally an exhibition reminds us that the visual arts are first and foremost a struggle for liberty of thought and deed, they are not and never can be an industry. Good art can never be reduced to a minor form of luxury goods. Artists can achieve completely unexpected insights into Continued…

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The development of an artist’s identity

I am intrigued by how insistent I have been over the years to maintain my identity as an artist. I am fortunate not that I stumbled across found and recycled objects and saw their artistic potential – but that I had the courage to envision an entirely new art form and risk ridicule, and my reputation as a fine artist, to create this new body of work.

This courage led me into the pioneering realm of environmental art and provided me, at long last, with definitive direction as an artist. It also paved the way for my success. Over thirty years of my active life as an artist, I have managed to create a huge body of work, with thousands upon thousands of works begin created. When I look back on my life’s body of work, I find a clear thread that intellectually ties most of it together.
I’m obviously Continued…

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Artists must explore alternative incomes to support their career

Although I feel at peace in my relationship with my biological father, and his untimely death, it has still affected my ability to live a ‘normal’ life and desire ‘normal’ jobs. It’s not that I haven’t been able to take on run of the mill jobs, it’s just that I have had a constant need to do something more ‘edgy’, things that have more possibility – and greater risk – than merely mowing lawns all my life or serving drinks behind a bar.

For many years I did other jobs to support myself as an artist, such as short busts of house painting or landscape gardening. I was trained to be a teacher, which I undertook for a period of time until it became clear it was not my path.
I did work full time as an art teacher during my early twenties, shortly after I was initiated into what Continued…

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Artists have an extra sensitivity towards life that is vital to their well being as an artist

There is no doubt that artists have an extra sensitivity towards life. In fact, it is a necessary component of the artist’s quality that enables him or her to respond creatively to life’s experiences. What initiates or develops this sensitivity is, of course, an individual thing. In my case, I believe my sensitivity, as an artist was a by-product of my biological father’s suicide when I was a toddler. This tragedy, and its impact on my mother and siblings, has fuelled this ‘extra sensitivity’ to life.

This artist’s sensitivity has been particularly helpful when it comes to any form of creativity I have engaged in over the years. It adds intensity and depth to my work. The fact that I haven’t been able to fully express this depth is the reason the art world has not unequivocally embraced my work to extent of turning it into a blue chip investment. Continued…

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The romance and reality of life as an artist (and as the partner of an artist)

Life as an artist, or as the intimate partner of an artist, might be romantic for many people. In many ways, my partner and I have enjoyed our fair share of romance in our relationship because I am an artist.
At exhibitions, we are often the center of attention. We have been treated extraordinarily well as the result of my artistic renown, flown to exotic destinations, accommodated in superior hotels and rubbed shoulders with the elite in fabulous restaurants.

Ironically, I have gradually come to understand, and acknowledge, that my partner does not like most contemporary art. She would certainly prefer to avoid the preciousness of the inner sanctum of the art world. More often than not, these days she refrains from joining me on my public artistic excursions.
As my partner and I graduated from the romance to the reality of life as an artist, we organised our lives Continued…

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Art Revelations #5: Personal Transformation And Resolution

After thirty active years in the industry, I have discovered that being an artist comes with a certain territory that is anathema to most other occupations and careers. This unique territory is singular for each artist and provides its own opportunity for revelations. Certain key elements have surfaced, with hindsight, as major factors in my life and career. These revelations have been enormously beneficial in shaping my artistic world as I look towards the next thirty years.

These include:
• there is a romance and reality of life as an artist (and as the partner of an artist)
• artists have an extra sensitivity towards life that is vital to their well being as an artist
• artists must explore alternative incomes to support their career
• the development of an artist’s identity
• the positives and negatives of having a benefactor
• the importance of meditation and a conscious Continued…

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Art Revelations #4: Personal Transformation And Resolution

One time an interviewer asked the Australian painter Brett Whiteley; “What is more important for you art or life?” He responded by saying: “That’s simple, life is”. I couldn’t agree more.

A man goes to the spiritual master and says he can’t hear. He was gradually loosing his hearing. The master asked him, “Do you have a grandchild?” And the old man responded, “I didn’t come here about my grandchild, I came here because I can’t hear.” The master said again, “Do you have a grandchild?” and the old man said, “Yes” and the master said, “Buy two ice creams and sit together underneath and old trailer and eat the ice cream.” The old man goes home and finds his grandchild and they find a place to eat their ice creams and they enjoy it so much, talking, listening to each other and making plans for the next adventure. They Continued…

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Art Revelations #3: Personal Transformation And Resolution

To prompt yourself into action you need to have a strong enough intent. You need to make sure that your effort is mutually nourishing and is essentially beneficial to others. You need to know that you’re capable of putting in constant effort and preferably have this effort be inspired over a long period, and then you will see the results of your effort.

A further metaphor helps to explain this concept:

There is a boy with a dream to be a doctor. He became a great student, but failed three exams for universities out of his fear and nervousness at the last moment in the examination room. He and his father were on a train to the last university, the fourth university, where he was going to sit for his fourth exam and he was worried. There was a man sitting in the carriage of the train and they got Continued…

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Art Revelations #2: Personal Transformation And Resolution

I’ve personally found the answer is not always found on the outside. The greater shifts in perception happen within. Suffering is not in the fact; it is in the perception of the fact.

On a deep level, creating wealth for example, is adding value. A state of not being divided internally will automatically attract a state of prosperity, you could call this a state of ‘Oneness’, and for a creative person this state has to be paramount for success.

From time to time it’s important to identify the state you are in and how much of you is in conflict with yourself and how much of you is in a state of completeness within yourself. How is your health? How is your state of prosperity? How are your relationships? Which part of your consciousness are you aligned to – the higher or the lower?

With creativity, you need to have Continued…

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Art Revelations #1: Personal Transformation And Resolution

The importance of transformation and growth cannot be over-estimated. Turning life’s experiences into growth experiences is not only intelligent, it is imperative in today’s world. Most artists have tremendous growth through their work in the studio.
It’s not the intention in this chapter to go into these particular transformative possibilities, however each of us has experiences in our studios that form our own individual transformations. This can happen by making spectacular jumps in perception, through being alert to the accident occurring in your work. It’s important to learn from your experiences in life.

I found my own unique way through both my creativity and by developing an inner awareness. In order to have a form of creativity that is largely free of self-obsessive angst and tragedy, it has been necessary for me to work on my own personal growth. This has been tremendous through resolving issues that are essentially outside Continued…

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Transcending Fear

Fear is with us all and is a natural human condition, which for the most part ensures our survival and gives us an extra vitality in extreme conditions. Once you begin to respond to your own fears, whatever they are, you begin to harness massive amounts of energy, energy that can be used and transformed for creative purposes and also as ways to make your life more abundant. Some of the best art has been made as a result of artists confronting their fears in the studio, where artists are responding in positive ways to either accidents or other incidents and instead of giving in to the fear of failure, or to the fear of the unknown, they take a jump and use the opportunity to transform and go to another level. This can and will happen with your business life as an artist also.

You will naturally have challenges Continued…

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Envisioning The Future

Planning for the future is different from positive affirmations. Having a clear vision or projection of where you want to go with your career and what you want to achieve will help you get there. I like to create the time for myself where I envision various times and stages of my career and my expectations and success levels.

• Where do you want to be with your creativity in three months?
• Where do you want to be with your creativity in six months?
• What do I want to achieve in one year?
• What do I want to achieve in three years?
• What do I want to achieve in five years?

It is great to have a five-year plan. Go into detail…
• How many exhibitions per year do you want to be having?
• How much income per year by then?
• How much do Continued…

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Taking Risks

One person’s idea of taking risks will differ from another, so it is important to know yourself and your own limitations, and in order to know this requires a good deal of honesty. That said; there are basic tenets I go by when forging ahead with career decisions. One way for an artist to take a risk, calculated as it may sound, is to risk looking at his or her career as a responsible business practice. This would require each individual to:

• Properly assess the directions they are moving with their work
• Keep a check on their balance sheet with their income and expenditure
• Regularly check in with their progress on a creative as well as a fiscal level.
Most artists don’t do this and most artists, and I do hate to have to say it, have big failure rates, both in their ability to maintain a Continued…

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Developing Confidence As An Artist #4

It’s always good to remember why you became an artist in the first place, or why you wanted to study art and to remember to have fun in the process of making your art this will help you to stay fresh. Just begin somewhere and see where it goes. Some of the problem originates with how tedious you become with the preparation of the surface upon which you are going to work.

This can lead to you becoming petrified to mark the surface, because freshly stretched canvas properly primed is not inexpensive. The same goes with good quality drawing paper. A good example of stretching your abilities as an artist can be found by experiencing what I call ‘Dynamic’ life drawing classes. In these classes, which I’ve run at different stages over the years, I ask the students to begin to draw for a certain amount of time a still Continued…

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Developing Confidence As An Artist #3

It’s important to go easy on yourself. Give yourself some slack while at the same time be conscious of what is happening to you in these moments. The inner critic can be a real kill-joy. But it is important especially in the early stages as an artist, to allow yourself to fully explore all different types of styles. Let yourself paint like a child or draw like a child. Even let yourself create like an adolescent knowing you are an adult. As Picasso once so famously said: “It took three years to learn to draw like Raphael and the rest of my life to learn to draw like a child”

When I am involved in public art projects for example, there is usually a time during the process when I need to think like a teenager, an adolescent who is for whatever reason hell-bent on vandalising that particular sculpture or Continued…

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Developing Confidence As An Artist #2

The high level of quality that is available in the art world doesn’t happen by itself. It happens because each of those individual artists is committed to their work. They work hard in each of their respective areas and over time develop instinctive and intuitive qualities in their work that make it stand out. As such, you can never find a simple formula for building confidence in your artwork. You can be aware of being too careful in your approach. Are you able to walk into your studio and be bold with statements that you make with your work?

Or is it completely tentative experience from the beginning to the finish? This is definitely going to show in the end quality of your work and if it is coming across as being overly tentative or timid for example, it will be dismissed as such.
In the creative process, I feel Continued…

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Developing Confidence As An Artist #1

Without a certain amount of self-confidence an artist or student won’t have the required ability to put him/herself out there by marketing their art.

If you want to market yourself correctly you need to not only feel confident about what it is that you do by creating good strong work in the first place, but you also need to feel confident about bringing it to the market place. If you have a feeling that there are too many stumbling blocks in your career and creativity, you may need a re-assessment. The following suggestions may help.


Confidence develops the longer that you work. Be aware there are no instant or quick solutions to building confidence as an artist. Mostly there’s a tendency to be overly tentative when creating work in the studio, which can also lead to overworking. This is a mistake and it can get in the way of creativity. Continued…

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Defining Yourself As A Professional Artist

As a mid-career artist I am often called upon to mentor and teach artists and art students. The questions below grew organically out of these sessions. I realized that many people with careers in the arts and those about to embark on a path in the arts asked these fundamental questions – questions that ought to be addressed early in a career and during the different stages of a career. If they had, they would have discovered with different hindsight that they would not only have saved themselves valuable time, they may also have pursued more successful directions.

I am certain that in my own life, had I asked myself definitive questions about both my creativity and myself in the early stages of my career, I would have definitely circumvented a lot of wasted time in (and out) of the studio. This is not only confined to myself. I have Continued…

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