Friday, January 11, 2013

I'd rather be procrasti-snuggling

Look away!  I'm so ashamed.
I considered making a list of resolutions as my first blog topic of 2013, but I've procrastinated too long.  Plus I would forget about them and make myself feel bad when I blow them all off later.  One resolution would unfortunately be, once again, to control my Facebook game playing.  I stayed away for quite awhile with impressive and uncharacteristic restraint.  But over break I allowed myself some wine, Cheez-its and Bejeweled. And by some I mean a lot.  Honestly, that combination is my own patented brand of crack.  If my husband Joe didn't announce it was time for bed, I would burn through an alarming amount of Cheez-its.

Which of course leads us to diet and exercise and self control and all those other annoying resolution-type spankings that I will spare myself.

My son Max has enthusiastically inherited my love of procrastination.  For the most part, he does his homework right after school like I've Nazi-drilled into his blond head in high-stepping upstairs fashion.  He always comes in my room to say hello before he gets started and we lay on my bed and talk about his day.  That boy is the best snuggler ever, and he knows it.  Snuggling is my kryptonite.  Plus, that kid can stretch out a story.  Eventually I call him on his stalling tactics.  He calls it procrasti-snuggling. 

Speaking of stalling, it's time to apply to art shows.  Mostly, my job as a pencil portrait artist is a lovely trifecta of comfy pants, working on the computer and drawing someone's special something while watching trash TV.  It is a delicious life and I'm grateful for it.  Because most of my days are very much the same comfortable routine, when I have to do something different and slightly more challenging, I am outraged.  I stomp around and dramatically announce how much I do NOT want to do whatever it is while Joe tries to ignore me.  Such as:

  1. Prepare for a show and count inventory of prints, mats and frames.  I wouldn't have to do this if I were more organized.  But I'm not.
  2. Pack up all my crap for a show and go set it up somewhere while sweating/freezing/worrying whether it will be worth said time/sweat/shivers.
  3. Pay my sales taxes or do anything money related.
  4. Make adjustments to a finished portrait when my client gives me helpful feedback like "Why is my dad so fat in this drawing?  I mean, I know he's fat, but could you make him less fat?  On second thought, here's a different photo of him."  Grrrr.
  5. Apply to art shows.

When I first got canned from my corporate job, and decided to give my drawing hobby a full-time go, I started out doing little craft shows near my home in the far north Chicago suburbs.  Little by little I improved my display and applied to fancier shows.  I've dipped my toe into fine art fairs for the last few years.  I still feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing. 

Some of my fellow fine art exhibitors have displays that looks like freaking galleries.  Carpets on the floor, beautiful polished wooden display racks, walls like a museum.  I'm rocking some white mesh walls that cost me $750 five or more years ago.  They are getting dirty and dingy.  I used to have my portraits in plastic, dinged up frames.  Now I use frames with real glass in them, even if some of them are still rather dinged up.  If I want to run with the fine art crowd, I really need to step up my game.

Fine art shows require photos of your work and a photo of your set up so a jury of artists can decide whether you're up to snuff.  I've drawn a lot of stuff so I have to figure out which portraits to submit.  Most of my portraits are of other people's stuff so do I submit portraits of adorable kids or of my Chicago scenes that are more marketable?  What are these jury people going to like better?  I DON'T KNOW

I keep forgetting to take photos of my booth when I'm actually working, so all my booth photos have been taken in my driveway or yard on consistently overcast days, accompanied by my very best bitching and whining while setting it all up.  Fortunately I have some beginner's Photoshop skills, so I can play around with the photo and try to improve it.  Here's this year's driveway photo:

If only I could Photoshop the scuffs off the walls in my house.

I am worried about this photo.  I have no fancy carpeting.  The frames are different types/sizes.  Does that matter???   Oh worra worra.

Now I need to review the spreadsheet of art shows that I look at every year.  Good shows are getting more and more expensive... up to $600, plus an application fee, just to show up.  If it pours rain or nobody shows up or a twister comes and mangles all my stuff, too bad for me, it's still $600+.  I used to sign up for shows willy-nilly and as the booth fees came due, Joe would have a mild conniption.

Whenever Joe would question the art show fees racking up on my business credit card (a new one at 0% every 18 months or so), I would get all defensive and freaked out, proclaiming my need for some sort of marketing.  How are people going to hire me to draw their cats and/or chubby family members if they can't find me anywhere?

The key to managing Joe's stress level is preparation and communication.  We sit down together now and review my choices and he sometimes suggests a more aggressive schedule than I'd choose on my own.  He's helped me at some of the busier shows and he knows that they're more expensive for a reason.  But damn, it's hard to know which shows are the right ones to choose.

That time is now.  Like right now while I'm procrasti-blogging.  Most of the fine art shows I've done have been Amdur Productions shows and the deadline is midnight TONIGHT.  Way to stall!  Max would be proud. Joe is working from home today, but he has meetings nonstop.  We'll figure it out, we always do.  I'll panic about the money and he will be level-headed and encouraging and help me choose some portrait images.  I'll worry that I won't be accepted... I'll cringe about the money.  I'll feel panicked about my booth photo. I'll announce that I need a corporate job again with a regular paycheck.

Becoming a professional full time artist has been a step at a time.  Applying to shows, paying thousands of dollars in booth fees, schlepping my Durango full of art stuff out into the elements... it's all the stuff I hate doing because I'm lazy. But, the unpleasant work is what makes the stories happen. All the sweet stories behind the portraits that make it all worthwhile.  Portraits of families, precious young faces, weathered beloved ones, bright eyes peeking out of fur.  Homes full of memories, moments in time when it's all going by so fast.

People are so full of love and they want to show it in amazing ways and I get to be a part of it.  That's worth putting on pants with an actual zipper and getting some work done.

But maybe a little procrasti-snuggling with Max first.

Wendy Zumpano


  1. About five minutes after I posted this blog entry, my dad called to ask me how he could help. I love my dad!!!

  2. I'm worrying that you are not effectively worrying.

    1. I am VERY effective in my worrying, thank you very much. I am QUITE convinced that I'm brewing up some cancer and/or ulcers or possibly psoriasis that has started on one of my feet. Very itchy.

  3. Whenever a show application asks me if I have any special requests or want to be by anyone in particular I never have anything to say. Until now. If I am ever lucky enough to get into a show you're doing (God forbid it's CLS) I am gonna BEG them to let me have a space next to yours. You would be fun to spend show chatter time with!

    1. Loved connecting with you today! Are you in the Chicago area? I never venture out of Illinois... all my images I sell at art shows are Chicago based.

  4. Hilarious and sweet at the same time. Loved reading it.


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