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which one is your favorite
Someone came into my open studio last week, worked the walls with care, and then turned and asked me "which one is YOUR favorite?"

I blurted out something and thought, wow! that sounded pretty good. I should write that down.

What I said was some version of this.

I tend to value my work based on what I paid to create the piece-- what it cost me, personally, to bring forward that content and make it manifest. And I'm deeply suspicious of this. I don't think that my personal cost has anything to do with the value of the work for the viewer. Just because I suffered doesn't mean the piece is better. It just cost me more and so I value it accordingly. And I also devalue the work that comes to me easily and I am pretty sure that is wrong.

Then I walked my visitor over to the most "expensive" piece in my studio, and said "this one." ***

Later on I asked my partner S. what he thought of this. He said that while short story writers tend to have clear favorites from their own oeuvre, novelists usually say their favorite book is the latest one. The price they paid to write it is still fresh.

It is misleading to use the language of commerce to describe creative effort. Money language is handy, most readers will know it, but it suggests that I have this bank account of dollarish life energy that I can spend however I want and I just happen to choose to paint. Maybe this is true on some level but it is not how life has seemed to me as I've lived it! I don't feel that I get to spend my "money" any way I want. My funds seem to be earmarked for a particular purpose. I can refuse to "spend" but the energy isn't available to go spend on something else.

Also, my experience tells me that however "expensive" it is to paint a difficult piece, the "price" of not painting is higher. Nothing costs me more than maintaining a creative block. (I've got at least a couple of blocks that I'm aware of. They are like bookbags half-filled with sand! I'm trying to put them down.)

***None of this, btw, has anything to do with how I price my work for sale. I use pricing criteria involving very boring things like size, materials, process, and whether or not a given piece is part of a series I'm still trying to exhibit.


4 comments or Leave a comment
artboyz From: artboyz Date: November 7th, 2006 04:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
Outstanding! Thanks for sharing that.
angiereedgarner From: angiereedgarner Date: November 7th, 2006 05:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thanks, and you are so welcome!
From: wrinklegrin Date: November 7th, 2006 11:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
That's an interesting point of view Angie. On the other hand, my favorite pieces are usually the ones that 'cost' me the least. They are the ones that are concieved in a flash of inspiration and completed in a sitting or two because it is so clear to me what I need to express. They are my favorites because I can't quite understand how they came to be, even though my hands made them.

angiereedgarner From: angiereedgarner Date: November 8th, 2006 12:39 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks for commenting. I love it when I get pieces like that too. Fortunately not all my work is difficult to create.
4 comments or Leave a comment