Artist: Kathryn Woodside Ralli; New York, New York, USA
QUESTION: What were your biggest challenges?
Kathryn : I had no idea who to approach, how to approach them, how to sell my art. I know that’s more than two, but I think you get the idea. I really didn’t have any clear direction.
QUESTION: What other challenge did you face?
Kathryn : I even felt challenged with consistently doing any work. I just really felt blocked and I was really frustrated because when I took classes I did great, first one there and last one to leave but when it came to working at home, I wasn’t able to make it work.
QUESTION: How’s it going now?
Kathryn : Oh, it’s going so much better. I have my good days and not so good, but I’m able to set a schedule and when I really get determined, I’m up there, I do my work and I enjoy it. I love being in my studio, there’s just lots of positives.
QUESTION: Are you saving time?
Kathryn : For those of us who are starting from scratch, this program really does go a long way toward keeping us from making a lot of timely and expensive mistakes. It saves us a lot.
QUESTION: What else?
Kathryn : I had to let go of perfectionism and that’s a process but that helped, and also the focus and getting better about the focus and breaking things down into pieces, so that it didn’t (here’s that word) feel overwhelming.
QUESTION: What has changed?
Kathryn : Now I can look at things in terms of the small parts and I can make that list every day, mark them off as I do them, and I got somewhere. At the end of the day it’s a really nice feeling and it feels really great to make that list at the end of the day. I go to bed knowing I’ve got my plan for tomorrow and then I can go right into the next day knowing what my plan is. Those are the days that I feel the best.
QUESTION: What else has changed?
Kathryn : Probably trying to make something look perfect when it didn’t need to. Sometimes you just have to move on. In fact, now when my husband says; “where are you headed?” I say; ” I’m going upstairs to experiment.” That’s what I tell him. I decided, don’t worry about it. Just put some paint on there and see what happens. Don’t freeze up. Don’t try to make it perfect. Don’t stand there and stare at it. Just stab something on there and move on.
QUESTION: What caused your perfectionism?
Kathryn : I think it’s in childhood for me and it’s from criticism and it extended through much of my life. Yeah, it was from criticism and you just try so hard instead of really being your authentic self.
QUESTION: Why is perfectionism a problem?
Kathryn : There’s no freedom in it. There’s no creativeness in it. You say ‘perfectionism kills creativity’, but the very act of trying to protect yourself through that does that too.
QUESTION: How did perfectionism hurt you?
Kathryn : Perfectionism for me, it wasn’t just about art. I didn’t start art until I was older, but it got killed. Any direction I might’ve had then was killed very early on.
QUESTION: What has helped heal you?
Kathryn : I actually do the falun dafa exercises and meditation and am reading the book and I’ve been doing that since 2003.
QUESTION: What is Falun Dafa?
Kathryn : The exercises are a form of chi gong and my understanding is that it’s the highest form, so there’s four standing exercises and a meditation and it teaches truthfulness, compassion and tolerance. It’s persecuted in China, so you’ve probably seen peaceful protests in San Francisco.
Ann Rea: Yeah, I see them outside of the Chinese Embassy on Geary Boulevard, pretty much every time I go by the embassy.
Kathryn : Oh yeah. I imagine.
QUESTION: How did Falun Dafa help you?
Kathryn : My health was extremely fragile at the time that I encountered it and I didn’t know that it could have an impact on that, but in the first week it totally started turning everything around for me. I had been a person who was very diligent and careful with my instructions from the doctor or whatever, and I still couldn’t get over whatever the challenge was.
QUESTION: What was wrong?
Kathryn : I seemed to have some infections, internal stuff going on. I had chronic fatigue from it and it was not good. There was a period of time where I was basically in bed with no energy. It was really hard on the family. When I started doing the exercises, it just immediately started totally turning the whole situation around. I had so many food sensitivities and I was chemically sensitive too, if somebody just sat an empty ashtray but it wasn’t washed down, I was running the other way because it would affect me so strongly. It just turned all of that around. I don’t think about any of that anymore.
QUESTION: How did you change?
Kathryn : It shifts things. The beauty, the true beauty of that for me was instead of having to be so self focused, I could spend all that time helping others and doing things for others. I tell you, it’s way more fun and more meaningful and a lot more enjoyable. I am so, so grateful for ever.
QUESTION: What have you learned about selling art?
Kathryn : This is about selling emotion, not selling art. I never would have gotten there, I don’t think, on my own or maybe I would have but it wouldn’t have been right away. I think that’s such an incredible piece of useful information to know that you can skip talking about the art and how you did it. Talk about the meaningful part of who you are and why you did this and those kinds of things. Talk about the emotion.
QUESTION: Why don’t we learn this in art school?
Ann Rea: We have a number of tenured art professors in the program and they’ve told me that because they’re in an academic environment, they’re expected to have a sort of logic to the value. So they go to their left brain and analyze and criticize the art and they suck all the emotion out of it and they’re the ones who are teaching our young artists how to make art.
QUESTION: What’s changed?
Kathryn : I was around people that were doing the best they could, but it’s a far cry from this. I really appreciated what they did do for me, but this is so worthwhile and I learned so much and I’m just tremendously grateful because I didn’t have the confidence before. I didn’t have the direction. I didn’t have the steps to go from A to B to C, none of the steps to selling and just all of these things. How do you do this and how do you take care of yourself? How do you mentally work through all these things and keep yourself in balance? You’ve given us far more than I anticipated. Really it’s very, very helpful.
QUESTION: What do you wish you could have told yourself 10 years ago?
Kathryn : There’s a much better direct way that’s meaningful to the people you’re meant to connect with and then it also becomes far more meaningful to you and provides benefit then for not only that person, but for everyone who sees it. It makes a big difference and it’s very, very worth the times, the money and the effort.
QUESTION: What would you say to someone who is considering applying to enroll?
Kathryn : I would honestly say to someone who was undecided that it’s worth the investment because it will give you the tools to accomplish something greater than you probably realize that you can even do. Now you’re looking at providing a value, that goes beyond your art, and you will really understand that by taking the course. It becomes meaningful, like I said, not only to the other person, but also to yourself, and you learn so much about your inner self in a way that frees you to provide better value and more meaning to your art.
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- Ann Rea, Artist Mentor