Monday, February 25, 2008

An Important Message:

I donate artwork for fundraising several times a year. As the law currently stands, an artist cannot deduct the value of the piece (usually between $2200 to $3500 in my case). I can only deduct my materials ($100 to $200?). So, my time is not given any value by the government. This is not the case with any other person who donates to charity. 100% of their items are deductable. I would donate more often if my work was given fair market value on my tax form.

Below is information about a very important bill for artists:

Support the Artists' Deduction Bill
Kim Hall

The Artist Deduction Bill (S. 548) would give artists the right to deduct the fair market value of their work when donating it to charity, rather than only the costs of materials and supplies, as things currently stand now. According to the American for the Arts,, the U.S. tax system is currently treating collectors, who can donate tangible works and deduct the fair market value, differently from the creators of those works. What does this mean for artists?

“It means that I have stopped donating because it takes me about a month to do a painting, and my paintings start at around $5,000,” says artist Mimi Jensen. “It makes financial sense to me as an artist to write a check to a charity rather than spend a month of my time to paint something and donate it for far less.”

Essentially, as artists stop donating work, nonprofit institutions across the country will suffer. Artists and collectors should be treated equally when donating work, but in order to do that, we need to voice our opinions to our Members of Congress as quickly as possible. While there hasn’t been any movement on the bill yet, lobbying is scheduled for late March, so the time to act is now.

If you haven’t voiced your support for the Artist Deduction Bill to your Member of Congress yet, Americans for the Arts has made it easy. Just visit , and fill out your name and address in the onscreen template. The template includes a letter explaining what the Artist Deduction Bill is and why it is important. You can opt to print out the letter and mail it in yourself, or you can have the letter e-mailed directly to your Members of Congress instantly.

"90% of the game is half mental."

"You've got to be careful if you don't know where you're going
'cause you might not get there."
Yogi Berra

Aren't Yogi Berra-izms the best? I sure think so. I am currently horizontal with my laptop. I caught this stink'n flu bug everyone is getting from visiting our kids and grandkids on the Oregon Coast last week. My brains are a little soupy, but that's never stopped me from talking...or writing. I'm just sayin...I might want to edit this when I am feeling better.

Back on the subject of the fear of failure thing:

So, my recent exhibit is getting the wildest feedback-- from one end of the spectrum to the other. It makes me laugh. I have heard everything from, "I didn't see one thing that bowled me over" to "This is the best exhibit I have ever seen." Crazy. Who am I suppose to listen to?

The truth of the matter is, I did this last exhibit in a hurry. But I was totally caught up in it. I was lost in it. I was passionate the entire time. I was inspired. So what if none of them sell? (Well…okay…they are selling.) But so what if they ALL sell? Sure, I could use the money, but that money will be spent eventually. Then what??

Either way, I still need to paint more pictures. I mean, either way, I still WANT to paint more pictures.

I can’t take praise or criticism too seriously. I can listen and own what I think I need to own---if anything. But in the end, it comes down to this: Was I “present” during the process of making the work? Did I get anything out of the experience of producing the work? Is the work an honest expression of that experience?

I am glad I had a good time painting these last eighteen paintings. It was fun. It was hard work, but it was fun. I would do it all over again.

Wait a minute…I am doing it all over again! (Just as soon as I kick this bug.)

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Critical Thinking

"Criticism is something we can avoid easily by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing”
Those who want to be an artist care too much about what the critics say about their work. Those who are busy making art don’t have time to care. I find it interesting when I hear someone criticize one of my exhibits. Usually, it is the person who claims that they can’t even draw a straight line (uh…ruler…hello!) What really cracks me up is when they dismiss the ENTIRE exhibit…not just one or two pieces. So, everything in the show failed to impress you? Not one thing of value in the whole bunch? Huh. Go figure!

Even my own mother has been known to say, “Who in their right mind would pay $3,000 for these?” (I dunno…maybe the person over there writing the check?) Truth be told, I don’t understand why people write big checks in order to take home something I made. But they do. And I’m glad they do. But that is not my motivation for painting. Not even.

If I painted to make money or to impress or for any other reason than because I really just have to paint or I’ll suffocate to death, then I would be climbing the ladder of success only to find it leaning against the wrong wall. Those who are jealous or uneducated or just plain critical would have so much power over me that I would end up quitting and just go work in a laundry mat (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

I get bored easily so I mess around with ideas. About ten years ago, I painted pictures within pictures. Some people were really bothered by them. (“What on earth??") But they flew off the walls. Recently, I painted shrubs inside of bubbles. They spoke something to me that I felt I needed to say. I’m glad they were well received, but I painted them for me. So, it really didn’t matter. Currently, I am experimenting with adding texture. I’m just playing around with ideas. One artist told me that I am doing it right (whatever that means). I don’t really care. Again…I’m doing it for me. They say something I want to say. I’m glad other people like them. But more importantly, I don’t care if they don’t. So there.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Fear of Failure

Q: What would I do if I didn’t have to do it perfectly?

A: A great deal more than I am now

Fear of failure is a big one. I could talk about it all day. It goes hand and hand with that perfectionism thing. And perfectionism, as I have said before, kills creativity. I don't think perfectionism or fear of failure is something we are born with either. If you've ever watched a child draw, especially a young child, they go at it with a vengeance. And they are so proud to show it off. It is only after the blows of critical eyes that fear creeps in. Subsequently, they want to create something perfect in order to never feel the pain of "failure to please" again. When a child realizes the impossibility of pleasing everyone, they quit art making all together. How unfortunate for us! Just imagine all of the beautiful, provocative, innovative and inspiring art the world is missing out on!

For me, it is more painful to NOT paint than it is to paint. Perhaps that is the key. If I stop painting for any length of time and watch a demonstration of another artist, I have an anxiety attack. Seriously! I can't handle it! My heart starts to race and I feel like I can't breathe!

I think, with any art form, if you are meant to do something, it will bother you greatly that you aren't doing it...especially when you see others doing it--be it painting, sculpting, acting, know. You are supposed to be doing it too. The question is: how badly do you want that anxiety to go away?

Here's the thing: you can go ahead and risk failure by doing what you love and just possibly find success--or you can NOT do it and be absolutely assured of failure. Your choice.

I just painted 14 paintings in about five weeks. I did it by painting 12 to 15 hours a day, seven days a week. I don't like to work that hard. Well, okay, I do. Let's just say that my BODY doesn't like to work that hard. But I had to. I put myself in a precarious position by scheduling a solo exhibit a little over a month after I arrived home from my month in Europe. Stupido! But I wanted to do it and I did do it. And now I have 14 more paintings that I did five weeks ago for the community to it or not.