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Archive for November 9th, 2010

Collectors

I pulled up this early study today, a smallish piece on paper from 1994 that was one of my first efforts in the technique that I developed for myself from which all my subsequent work derived in some way.  I can still remember the excitement of discovery that was in every piece at that point, how each brushload of paint seemed filled with the possibility of  showing me something I hadn’t seen before.  It was all I needed then– me and the paint and a place to lay it down.  My own eyes were enough.

There was a comment yesterday that inquired as to my use of the word collector in describing the attendees of my shows and buyers of my work.  I’ve been thinking about the importance of  these people for some time and this comment brought back the debate I have internally in describing them.  Customers and clients seem too cold and businesslike as words for how I view them.  As does buyers.

I’ve always felt funny using the word fans to describe  my collectors.  I don’t exactly know why but there’s something a little too egotistical, too self-aggrandizing,  in  saying my fans

Followers is close to being okay but there is an element of the cultish in it that makes me nervous.  Besides, there are plenty of collectors who have bought several apintings of mine without following the progress of the work over the years, people who happen to simply like the work and come back again to add to their collection.

So, I’m left with the word collector.  I like the sound of it and have earmarked as an important word to myself ever since I realized that there were people who might someday collect my work, which was a short time after I began working on pieces like the small study at the top of the page.  The word has become more important to me over the years.   There is the obvious reason, in that collectors provide the income that sustains me.  But collectors have provided me with more than mere money.

There have been times, over the years, when that initial excitement as I described above had faded and the process itself was not motivation enough to make me want to spend my days alone in my studio.  Though I think I am well suited to isolation, there are times when it is daunting.  But it has been during these times when the remoteness has been overbearing that the thought of my collectors, of people who take an active interest in my work, who give it thought and time in which to flourish, have pulled me through.  Given my work a purpose.  Knowing that there were collectors out there willing to view the work I made in the solitude of my studio made the isolation fade away, as though there were hundreds of eyes looking over my shoulder as I worked.  It’s hard to describe the gratitude I feel for this presence that they give me in the studio, not to mention the motivation they provide.  I find myself always wanting to push for something more, something new to pass along to these collectors, if only as a small repayment for what they have provided me.  I feel that they have placed a trust of some sort in my work and it’s imperative that I not betray that trust by giving less than my full effort.

So, if  there’s a better word, please tell me.  But it will be hard to push out the meaning and importance of the word as I perceive it for those who I refer to as my collectors.

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