Still Life Photography by Eryl Shields

By Seeking and Blundering We Learn*

Whilst replying to a comment on last Friday’s post I realised I had made my practice sound difficult, or, at least, rather tiresome. Which it isn’t at all. Yes, I’m broke financially, but in every other respect I’m as rich as it gets. I do things I love every single day, even the difficult things like marketing and shop management are getting easier as I learn. And I love learning and solving problems. My life is a kind of philosophical experiment on how to live well. Not lavishly, but delightfully, and I am making small but significant gains. Gains I hope others will be able to benefit from too, not because I’m altruistic, but because I want to live in a world in which people aren’t miserable and afraid. I think recent political bombs show that miserable afraid people are dangerous to all of us, not just those who step in their path(s). So here are three recent good things about being this particular freelance artist:

Good Thing #1

Because of the stuff I’ve done to encourage other writers (Brave New Words which my much missed° spoken word collaborator and I set up, for example, and the poetry group I run) Wigtown Book Festival now pays me a small stipend to support the literary community in the region. This mostly involves sharing the work of writers, and supporting the events of literature/arts organisations, though today I was able to put a writer in touch with a charity that needs one. Hopefully they’ll come to a mutually agreeable arrangement.

Good Thing #2

Early last week a literary magazine asked me for some stories to make up the balance between poetry and fiction in their next edition. They asked me, I can’t tell you how good that feels! And when I replied that I’d look through my files and see what I have they asked me for black and white art work too! This because one of the editors had seem some of my images on-line, which, I’d say, shows the value of just putting your work out there. I sent twelve thumbnails for them to choose from and they want them all, three or four for this edition and the rest for subsequent ones. Not only that they’ve now asked for a full colour image for a future cover. (I’m so tempted to litter this post with exclamation marks!!!).

Good Thing the Third

Meanwhile, on Monday I heard I’d been short-listed for a Jerwood Arts Foundation Artist’s Bursary for a project I’m working on. They only have ten to give, and had 731 applicants, so I feel terribly vindicated: I’m not wasting my time, I am doing something worthwhile, my work isn’t self indulgent rubbish.

We tend to judge success by money. But there are other ways, and this week, regardless I’ve run out of shampoo, I feel very successful indeed.


°Sindigo who died last September of breast cancer, aged 33.

10 thoughts on “By Seeking and Blundering We Learn*

    1. Thank you, Steph, it shows, I think, how it pays to just keep at it, regardless. As Warhol said, ‘Keep on making art and let others decide if it’s any good,’ (or words to that effect).


  1. I have some money. Not much but enough to get by with an occasional luxury. A theater ticket. The mortgage payment. etc. However, I find my work insufferably dull. It makes me sad. I consider you much, much wealthier than I am or can ever hope to be.


    1. I have come to believe that finding one’s own work dull or in some way lacking is part of the condition of being an artist. I always know when a story or image is finished (don’t ask me how!), but I only know it was worth the effort when someone else tells me, and I don’t think that’s unusual.


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