News from Stark Raven Studios: Dan and Saga's blog about blacksmithing, art, and daily life and  work on their tiny Wisconsin Northwoods homestead.

The Road Less Traveled is the Rainbow's End

One of my favorite poems is the Road Less Traveled by Robert Frost. To me, it has always struck a chord for the virtues of individuality and not compromising ones self for the sake of what I have come to know as the herd mentality. 


This post may sound off with a ton of cliches about individuality, but so many of them ring true for Dan and I. We "March to the Beat of a Different Drummer." I like to joke that mine is playing jazz.

Our lifestyle and our means of making a living is all about finding ways to live our way, as sustain-ably as possible, without having to compromise or conform to the current norms. Neither of us have ever been the "9 - 5" type and we don't seem to do well in that type of environment. As with most artisans, the restriction and structure of a "9 - 5" world is like a prison and it tends to squelch the creative spirit that burns within us.

Throughout both of our careers as artists, Dan and I have found a way to do things in a manner that satisfies our need to create. As an example, I have always had a flair for illustrating and portraiture. I like myths, legends and fantasies...things that were moving to me. I had many a "critic" ask me why I didn't choose to paint things like ducks or landscapes. Even more cringe-worthy are the critics that ask "why don't you paint something that sells?" That question, in particular has always irked me the most. Fortunately, Dan and I have both found niches where we market our work and it does indeed sell. 

We have both found areas of our work that is in more demand than others. We also find  that year to year, there is often a slight shift in what sell best.

Every once in a while, we get a pleasant surprise. For me, this is when one of my original paintings sells or when we get an order for something truly unique in the forge. For a visual artist, the originals market is a particularly difficult one.  I have learned, over many years, that what I consider a masterwork, may not have visual appeal to everyone, and may take years for just the right customer to come along. I have learned to be patient and trust my instincts on what I think is an exceptional piece and trust that, that piece finds its proper home, 

The end of 2013 saw the sale of one of my favorite pieces. Rapture is the kind of piece where I let creativity take the reigns and painted her as a reflection of the primal side that lives within everyone. My customer saw her at Z-Place Gallery and Framing in Ironwood, Michigan and referred to her as his girlfriend on the many visits he paid to see her before finally purchasing her just after Christmas.

I've had the fortune to have, on average, one of these "master pieces" sell a year, at which time I like to offer limited edition prints. Selling a favorite painting at the end of a successful year was for us that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. I plan on sharing that in a special price for prints of Rapture as a thank you to dedicated fans of our work.