What happens when the artist moves on, and the collector is dismayed?

In the course of developing my “voice” as a painter, I went through several “periods,” if that can really be applied to an emerging artist. Evidently several of them were pretty good, and they developed their own followings. But I no longer wish to paint those things, nor, in some cases, could I. They were areas and subjects I explored on my way to discovering what I really had to say, and how to say it in the best way I can. Now, I find that I have some somewhat disgruntled collectors. They liked the “Blue Planet Series,” my nod to environmental issues and things like outer space! (Many of those paintings could have been science fiction covers and they run the gamut: one has sold out in print form, yet I still own the original; another was fawned over for several months, hung in my foyer for several years and now resides ignominiously rolled up in a tube.) Then there were the wildlife paintings. I started doing them because my husband and I were doing a lot of deep-sea fishing on our boat and others, and he wanted a “fish painting.” Well, one led to another and then the wading birds showed up, and then I got asked to participate in a very prestigious wildlife art show – for three years. But I found that I really couldn’t approach the critters with the same interest after awhile. I am not, as most wildlife artists are, a photorealistic painter. My critters were always a little offbeat, and in the end, they were created with series of squares like all my other paintings were.

Which brings me to where I am now: after the requisite 10,000 hours Malcolm Gladwell postulates, I DID find my voice. It resides in large scale geometric cityscapes and architectural abstracts, all created with thousands of colorful squares and lines. I love these things, and so do a LOT of people who have started collecting them. I can’t run out of subject material, even though I only paint places I’ve actually been to, because I’ve traveled and lived all over the country, and the world (except for Russia, China, Japan and Australia). So I’ve got a lot of material to work with and I love doing it. I’m working on a request list as I speak.
So, how, then, to respond to collectors who still come around, hoping to see those magical planets and mystical birds? I can’t dismiss that work, because I liked it too at the time, and they own some of it. But I also can’t go there any more. For anyone who has ever looked at an artist and said, “can’t you just paint another one just like it?” – no, not really; at least it’s a lot harder than you might imagine.
So, here I am, happily painting away, wondering how to be a sensitive respondent to those who may not like the new work as well, and wish for other times.
Any ideas?

About Carol Joy Shannon

A former sailor of the seven seas, living in my beloved Lowcountry, between the blackwater swamps and the saltmarshes, surrounded by pre-revolutionary history.....thinking about current events....painting dinosaurs and other whimsical animals for children, with the occasional abstract or new cityscape for my delightful collectors. The best thing about being a seasoned old salt is sitting down not running around, so...
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