By Katie Rubin
I sat down recently with up and coming painter, Adam Wever-Glen, to find out more about the real life of a working visual artist. Having spent the majority of my adult life as a working actress and writer, I have some familiarity with the instability of the artistic life; its ups and downs, its cross-your-fingers-and-hope-for-the-best-ness. I wanted to know if Adam’s world, the world of the canvas, was similar to that of the stage.
I asked Adam what drives him to keep painting, day after day. “It changes,” he said. “Mostly, though, I’ve just always wanted to be really good at it. I love painting. I love the craft of it- and I have always wanted to be a master painter. I just want to keep painting and just get better and better at it. You know?”
I do know. It’s often said, in the world of the arts (and personal growth), the more you know, the more you know you don’t know. Experience gained often creates an awareness of experience required. Adam knows what I mean “I just want people to see my work and say ‘Wow- that guy really knows how to paint.” You could call that pride, if you like, but the arts are a business of creating something from nothing, using only the engine of your heart’s desire combined with your will to create. So, people liking or being impressed by what you do matters. If they don’t, they don’t buy, and you don’t eat.
I asked Adam how he handles outside criticism and other people’s opinions about his work, and like many of us, he is conflicted. “A mentor of mine,” Adam continues “gave me some great advice recently. She said ‘in movies, the more specific you are, the better. In art, it’s just the opposite. The more general you are, the more your work will sell.’ I thought that was great advice. At the same time, though, I went through a period where I was really worried about what other people thought about my work. Like, was it cool or whatever. Then I realized, when I stopped caring about whether my work was cool or not, and just started painting what I’d like to have hung up in my house, you know, just trusting that if I like it, that’s enough, that’s when things started to go a lot better for me. More people started buying my stuff.”
“So,” I ask, “You’re discovering ways to stay true to your vision while also being able to earn a living with your work?” “Yeah,” Adam says. “I guess so.”
When I ask Adam how he approaches the business of painting, he says “You know, I’d love to make a bunch of money, and all that other stuff, but the core of it Is I really like doing it. I always have. I also really like getting better at something, you know? It feels good, getting better at different techniques. That’s why I’m excited to be going back to school.”
Adam has been accepted to the Studio Art Grad Program at UC Davis and is heading there this Fall. “I just feel really lucky right now. Between the paintings I sell and the part-time real estate work I do (Sometimes Adam helps stage houses for Real Estate Agents), I’m able to support my son and I. And I’m really hoping that the Davis program just helps me get better at my work.”
“Painting is also just fun,” he continues. “It’s like exploring, it’s like being a little kid, and I want to figure out how to keep that feeling alive.”
And that’s when it became abundantly clear: the world of the canvas, and the world of the stage are quite similar after all: we’d all love the creature comforts that come with being wealthy, but at the end of the day, we love doing what we do, and “want to figure out how to keep that feeling alive.”
To see more of Adam’s work and possibly supports its survival, visit: www.adamweverglen.com