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Specializing is a Good Thing

Permanent Linkby RichardDevine on Mon Mar 03, 2014 9:55 am

My interests have always been varied. I’ve always hated to pigeon-hole myself, to restrict myself to one thing or one area. It always seems that I’m missing out on something else. I love to garden. I’ve been involved in horticulture most of my adult life and I’m still fascinated by plants – their myriad forms, colors, textures, shapes. I also like to build period furniture. I’ve built corner cabinets, tables, drysinks and cradles. I still love to get out in the shop and build something. I even spent a few years doing sculptures.
The same holds true with my art. I love paint landscapes, wildlife, architectural structures and botanical subjects. Even my medium of choice is hard to pinpoint. I’ve done oils, acrylics, colored pencils and watercolor. When I’m using one medium I am imagining myself doing the painting in another. I could be doing better in another medium. And, if I change to the other, I think I should’ve stayed with the first. I look over the works of other artists I admire, whether it be watercolors or colored pencils and think “I’d like to paint like that in that medium. I need to switch to that medium. That artist does that painting so well. He or she sure does have a command of that medium.”
I’d also like my paintings to be recognized as special, to stand out, to sell more. The fact is that there are tens of thousands of artists who paint well but don’t get recognized. The ones that do are noted for a certain medium or subject area. They concentrate in one area or subject or one medium and spend thousands of hours practicing until they become the best at it. It’s been said that in order to be the best at something you need to have a talent for doing that something and you need to spend ten thousand hours practicing it. There are other factors that come into play to achieve recognition once you’ve mastered your art, of course, such as reaching the right audience and filling the right niche but you must meet those first two requirements. It’s no different for anything we do. If you have a gift to do a certain thing and you put all your energies into that one thing, you will get to be an expert. If you spend all those countless hours dividing your time among several areas, you won’t achieve the same level of expertise (unless you’re specially gifted, which I’m not).
So, there it is. To be able to achieve recognition and have a demand for your work, you must have a talent, you must spend thousands of hours practicing that talent, you must fill a niche, and reach your intended audience. It’s no different for all the species that have evolved on this earth (save selling). Each species has been in existence for many millions of years, perfecting what it does best, and each fills a special niche. If it can do that it will be successful. If it can’t, it will be outcompeted and become extinct.
In order for us to be successful artists, (that is have recognition and sell) we must perfect what we do and fill a niche, one that is only filled by a relatively few. If we become generalists, we must compete with countless other artists. To achieve the recognition we must set ourselves apart. Specialize.
It hasn’t been easy for me to do that. Specialize. I feel I’m missing out on something if I do. But, at the same time, I’m frustrated by not becoming really good at one thing. I’ve spent a good part of my life involved in horticulture, botany, and garden design. I love gardens, the plants that fill them and the homes associated with them. That’s why I’ve chosen to specialize in Home and Garden Portraits, and Garden and Botanical Subjects. That’s not to say that I won’t do other subjects once in a while, but I will concentrate in Home and Horticulture subjects.
So, now that I decided that, I’ve got to get to work producing more Home and Horticulture paintings!

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