Irrigating the Fields of Art (Keith Bond)

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FineArtViews Daily Newsletter | Monday, August 22, 2011 | Issue 1008
 • Irrigating the Fields of Art  (Keith Bond)
 • Art in Your Community: Be a doer not a waiter -- support your local art community (Brian Sherwin), Revisited
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Irrigating the Fields of Art
by Keith Bond
Dear ,
This article is by Keith Bond, Regular contributing writer for FineArtViews.  You should submit an article and share your views as a guest author by clicking here.
Here in the Western United States, water is scarce and is not to be taken for granted.  In most cases, annual precipitation is far from adequate for growing crops.  From home lawns and gardens to large fields of corn or sugar beets, irrigation is necessary to grow just about anything.
To get water to farms, a series of aqueducts, canals, pipes and ditches carry the water away from rivers and reservoirs to feed the thirsty ground.  The otherwise dry landscape has become green and lush.  This diversion of water results in a blossoming of the desert – and food for millions of people. 
In areas without irrigation, scant vegetation exists except along rivers and streams or at higher elevations where the snow pack doesn’t melt until mid summer.
Let’s compare your art to the rivers and streams of the West.  Depending upon where you are in your career, you may be a small stream or a raging river.  In either case, there is some degree of success.  Just as there is some sustaining of life from the flowing water.  Something always grows along the banks of the water.  The further you grow in your career, the more success you will find.  Just as larger rivers sustain more life than smaller streams.
But, the success you will find is limited to a relatively small proximity – whatever grows next to the river.
Imagine your art business with a network of reservoirs, canals and ditches.  How much fertile soil is there to be watered and cultivated?  How much more success could you find?
But how do you dig those ditches?  What kind of crops can you grow?
A few examples:  teach workshops; mentor; consult; curate shows; sell prints, books, or cards of your work; sell instructional books or DVDs; write; do web design; illustrate; lecture; license your art; etc.  Maybe the irrigated fields include diversifying the venues for selling your work.
You need not do all these things, but it is wise to have more than one source of income.  Diversify.  Use your strengths to find ways that you can provide a service or products to fill a need.  What can you offer that your fans want?
There will be times when your river seems to be flooding and you will be creating and selling ‘til your heart’s content.  But there will be other times when droughts come and your river will be reduced to a trickle or may dry up completely for a season.  If you have a network of irrigation canals tied into a reservoir, you can still find success and income even if your artwork isn’t selling as well.
What crops have you irrigated beyond the banks of the river?
Best Wishes,
Keith Bond
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Art in Your Community: Be a doer not a waiter -- support your local art community (Brian Sherwin), Revisited
Here are the first five comments regarding Saturday's article:
yes, my fellow artists you may have to actually get off your butt and do something. Can't count how many times I have offered shows and opportunities to talented people only to have them flake off and not follow through. Then they are usually the ones complaining the loudest about how unfair it is that no one acknowledges their talent. Fact: No one is going to do it for you. now one is going to care if you don't. you make your own luck and your own opportunities.
Michael Slattery
Brian, you are exactly right on with this. I live in the town of Pearland, Texas, who is just now getting to appreciate the arts. I am an actor in our local children's theater group and also a oil painter. It is difficult to find people with the drive and determination to make the arts more easily accessible to the community. Unfortunately the doers sometimes get burnt out from being a groups go to person all of the time. I am encouraged that more artists are gathering with our Pearland Arts League and there seems to be some support now for the arts in out sleepy little town. The city is supportive by letting us hold an art show each month in one of their facilities. It is fun to be in on the ground floor as I have seen so much happen here for the arts, and the future looks bright. It is so important to find the other artists and have events around town that showcase their talents. I hope soon that we can organize some Plein Air painting sessions and generate some more interest. If you are an artist or enthusiast, don't stand on the sidelines, get in the game, do some of the grunt work. You will be well rewarded, if not monetarily, then by the smiles and encouragement you receive from the audience.
Brian Sherwin
Thanks to the both of you for sharing your experiences. Sometimes you have to make things happen... hell, think of the famous artists who at one point sold work on the streets or put together alternative exhibit spaces with art friends. Even the likes of Picasso had a relatively humble start in that respect.
Laurie Finkelstein
I believe in getting involved and I am currently participating in two great community art projects - one with ARTree Community Arts Center - bringing art (visual and performing) to children in the community, and through our local Artist's Association. Check out the Everchanging Wall Mural at and the other project is a mural on the garden shed of our Community Garden of Santa Clarita jointly created be ARTree and Santa Clarita Artist's Association - currently in progress. Community art doesn't just happen - it takes dedicated artists willing to build relationships with local governments and businesses. You have to get out there and make it happen.
Thank you, Brian! This article is the kick in the pants I needed! It's time to get started on several ideas that have been bouncing around in the back of my head since the beginning of the year.
My area is quite rural and poverty-stricken, and quite a few folks don't have cars to drive to the nearest museum(60 miles away). As you can imagine, there are lots of empty buildings in my little town, several of which could be turned into gallery space for local artists. I just hadn't gotten around to doing the research bad! I'll get right on it!
Again, thanks!
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