Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Changes


"And I'm not anything that you think I am anyway."
~ Roger Keith "Syd" Barrett ~

"Pipers at the Gate"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on Richeson Premium

Despite the scary potential of facing the continued stigma that far too many still have toward those with mental illness, I’ve come to realize that openly acknowledging my own battle with it is a solid step toward healing, especially since becoming an artist has been an invaluable part of that healing process, along with having found a qualified therapist locally. This has given me a bit of courage to publicly recognize my mental health challenges and if you are struggling yourself, may my 'coming out' as mentally ill let you know that you are not alone. As I’ve progressed along this meandering artistic path as it crisscrosses with my mental health challenges, I’m finding that my own response to my artworks is changing. My paintings and sketches are generally feeling less like marketable commodities and more like a means of simply expressing the emotions evoked by the various scenes I’ve seen in person that made me want to paint them in the first place. This has been an interesting transformation, since even though I've had some sporadic success at selling works despite always having been my own harshest critic, I now find myself back to the stance of retreating from the sales and marketing aspects of being an "artist". In any event, hopefully this pulling back from the stresses of trying to sell my work will provide a source of refuge for me in this mental illness storm.

"I Dreamed of Paradise"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
12" x 9" soft pastel on Art Spectrum Colourfix

Although I’ve been fortunate to have sold some paintings over the past few years and I’m eternally thankful for the collectors who've accepted my paintings into their lives and homes, I’m increasingly finding myself needing to retreat from the space of marketing and sales. However, the works I currently have available for sale in galleries will remain there through the end of this year or until sold, whichever comes first. Though giving up the marketing/selling thing certainly provides me no financial benefit, it is freeing from the perspective of not having to worry about how others view my artwork and whether it "measures up" to the expectations of others. Mental illness makes it difficult enough just to exist and function at all some days, without having to stress about what others think of me or my paintings or worrying about trying to sell. So being able to just paint what I want, when I want, and use that as a source of emotional sanctuary without worrying about what will sell or navigating the marketing tangle is much more beneficial to my mental state. The profits from any occasional works I may happen to sell will still go to charity, and I will continue to give some selected artworks away in exchange for direct charity donations should anyone express an interest in that. But at the present time I need the chance to just enjoy a painting that I think happens to turn out particularly well by hanging that painting in my own home where I can look at it any time I'm feeling low, instead of experiencing pressure to offer everything for sale in order to make myself feel like a legitimate artist or human being. Keeping those more personally meaningful and successful works in my home or office frequently serves as a reminder that my mind isn’t always lost in the weeds.

"Lost in Wonderland"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on Art Spectrum Colourfix

So, while I may still offer a few of my works for sale at reasonable prices (I believe original art is for anyone who truly appreciates it, not just the wealthy) and will also continue to make some of them available for nothing more than a donation to one of my supported charities, I’ve decided to primarily use my artwork as a means of helping me navigate this mental illness at the present time. I’m not going to worry about selling anymore but am focusing predominantly now on finding emotional sanctuary by painting the places and things I love and letting them surround and support me with some sense of personal success. I long for the day that mental disorders will no longer be stigmatized but viewed in the same compassionate light as any other serious physical disease - the brain is, after all, part of the body. Nevertheless, it’s a long slow process struggling to try and find the light from the depths of mental illness, but somehow (sometimes) I’m hopeful…

"Verdant Symphony"
© 2018 Tammy Kaufman
9" x 12" soft pastel on UArt 500

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
~ Douglas Adams ~

4 comments:

  1. Sending you much love and support, as always. <3

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  2. Thank you so much, J - your kindness and friendship truly mean the world to me. Hugs to you. <3

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  3. You are strong and you are brave. May the days ahead hold more light than darkness, and may your paintings continue to be a balm for your soul. The pieces in this blog post are beautiful. I hope you continue to blog about your paintings and share them with us from time to time even if you don't want to offer them up for sale or competitions. The most important part of making art is the enjoyment it brings you.
    Love, Addren

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    1. Thank you, Dear Addren, not only for your kind words but also for being my cherished teacher, mentor and friend. Much love to you. <3

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