I was doing my shift at the horse rescue today and, while struggling with a roll of packing tape, I said to another volunteer that I'd done the same thing yesterday, as I had been packing up a painting that was on its way to Arkansas. Her response was, "Oh? You sold a painting?" I knew enough not to be offended by her question since I'd fielded similar questions plenty of times before. It wasn't a comment on the quality of my work ("Wow ~ you actually sold something!?") but an innocent comment from someone who doesn't know any other professional artists. Everyone and his dog knows someone who paints as a hobby. Or plays piano for fun. Or quilts. Or or or. Those of us who do it and sell our work, however, are not part of mainstream experience. Many people have never known someone whose job is to make art.
So it wasn't about me, but about mainstream perception. I guess it's my job to try and change that, but it turns out I can be just as lousy as the uninitiated in giving myself respect. For example, I gave away a painting (pictured) on the weekend. It's what I have of value and I needed to say a gigantic thank you to the recipient. But I realize that many people, people who don't know that art can be a Real Job, would never equate a painting valued at $500 with what it requires them to earn $500. (Fortunately, in this case, the recipient is an art lover.)
The moral of the story? I have to quit giving away my art.