Thursday, October 7, 2010

Don't Let Your Craft Rule You

     I mentioned yesterday that I was invited to participate in the Buffalo Bill Museum Art Show.  While previewing the show, I ran across an artist I met several years before at the Phippen Museum Show named Bruce Graham.  
"A Cowboy's Family"
© Bruce Graham
Bruce and I took up right where we left off, which involved our mutual love of bow hunting and recurve or stick bows.  Off and on, during the auction, we found our conversation veering back to all things archery.
     We discussed bowyers and bows, broadheads and hunting in Texas and Wyoming.  It struck me later that we never did discuss art or even remotely broach an artistic subject, except for some new media talk between my wife, Pam, and Bruce’s wife, Annette, (who has her own interesting story).
     No one enjoys talking shop more than me, but in retrospect, I realized how much I enjoyed the time with an art friend…. not talking art!
"Holdin' The Line"
© Mark Kohler
     Being an artist, by its’ very nature, is a demanding road.  Hours upon hours are logged learning, perfecting and maintaining our artistic skills.  And you know that I’m a stickler for outworking the competition. 
     I remember when I started painting, I would work until 1 or 2 in the morning, striving to grasp what I could almost touch; trying again and again to make a noticeable improvement.
     But there must be a time to decompress and let the artistic train slow down.  Once you jump the “full-time” train, the momentum becomes dangerously fast and jumping off becomes more difficult.
     I’ve learned to inject my day with small and enjoyable breaks.  I make it a point to work my dogs, shoot a few arrows, or take off an afternoon to bird hunt.  These small respites can renew your creative outlook and make the art process more enjoyable.  Like a power nap, I’ve found that breaking up my time on the art table actually allows me to paint longer.  The only time I don’t push it is when my eyes say “enough”.
     To be a professional artist requires dedication, time and hard work.  There is no way to shortcut that, and we do this because we love it.  Most artists I know can’t not do it!  They would do it for no money, because it’s in them, fiber and soul. 
Bruce roping at a clinic

     But you’re in charge of your time and your life.  Find that happy medium.  There are horses that need riding and dogs that need training and arrows begging to be flung.  Discover what it is for you, take an artistic break, and enjoy the down time.  That painting might look a bit fresher when you return. 

I'm working with my retriever, Emmy. 

She loves the break as much as I do!

Paintings © Bruce Graham and Mark Kohler.  Content © Mark Kohler Studio.


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