Before I begin a new book, I'd like to discuss an article I just read in the most recent issue of Art Calendar: "Side Trips and Detours: Maintaining a Private Creative Life" by Matthew Daub. He begins with:
Nothing confuses art dealers more than variety. When an artist reveals more than one body of work at a time, many dealers scratch their heads and question whether the artist really knows what he or she is doing. Graduate school acceptance committees usually react the same way, as do most exhibition jurors. Collectors are often confused and put off when an artist they have had an interest in suddenly changes direction midstream. While certain established artists may get a free pass when it comes to exhibiting eclectic bodies of work, for most of us, it's the kiss of death. This is a very real dilemma facing artists in the marketplace. If consistency is favored, does that put pressure on us to continue making the same work in the same way throughout our entire careers?
This is something I've been thinking about for years. I always paint in a series (thematically) and change the theme every few years. For instance, my Wine series lasted one year and was followed by the All Cracked Up series which lasted five years. Now, I'm working on the Laws of Nature series. Those are just my series in watercolor. Simultaneously, I created other series in oil and in acrylics. My painting style is always the same, but the themes change.
When I approach a gallery, I highlight only one series. However, on my website I have several series posted. Looks like I'm guilty of doing exactly what Daub warns us against. As I wrote earlier, I have thought about this for a long time and it still nags me. Perhaps I should make a change.
What does Daub recommend? Having two sets of work: public and private. The public works are those that you want to hang your reputation on - and they are consistent. The private works are everything else we create. They may or may not see the light of day. I've heard of artists who use a pseudonym for these other works of art and openly sell them under that disguise. Not a bad idea, but tricky.
I'm still pondering all this and would like to know what you think.
What's your opinion?