I am an Art Farmer

Guest blogger Brenda McMahon shares her experience and insights on the realities of being an artist and a businessperson.


Rural landscape photo by Brenda McMahon


I often consider myself an art farmer. I travel the country planting seeds. And I water them with conversation, fertilize them with information and sprinkle them with love and possibility through sharing myself and my process.

Sometimes the harvest is immediate, but other times it is a slow build, taking a few months or years or even half a decade before my seeds bloom and reap rewards.

Each seed has great potential. But like a farmer, I never know which one will take and I cannot predict that one conversation will yield more than another. In that spirit, I treat each person who expresses interest in my work like the other and I trust my bounty will reveal itself.


Detail shot, ceramic mural by artist Brenda McMahon


As artists, we create in a vacuum. We are in the zone of passion, delight, problem-solving and infinite ideas. We are uninhibited in the creative process.  When we are in that process, we vibrate at higher levels; we express from deep within. Only later do we let the mental thoughts come and direct us. After all that work, we pack our bags, load our vehicles and till the field of prospective art buyers.

Like farming, it is a fickle business. Though we think the past predicts the future, there isn’t an artist out there who hasn’t been surprised by the lack of continuity. Art buying has a climate change of its own and it is often unpredictable. As art farmers, we sit, wait, hope and adjust our expectations, needs, and approach. We go back to the studio, dive back into the zone, produce some more and then plant new seeds for future harvest. Once again, trusting and hoping that it will be a good year!


"Wild Gaea" ceramic art by Brenda McMahon


Farmers have families and responsibilities, and so do artists. We have mortgages and car payments, grocery bills, tuition and plans for our future. Honestly, we are just like everybody else, but really, we are most like farmers.

We work long hours and passionately create something that did not previously exist. We joyfully wake at all hours of the day and work long into the night to present our work and get ready for our events. Artists trust that an unpredictable climate will yield a viable harvest. We ride the climate change of society all the while believing we are necessary nourishment.

After all, it is our job, we believe, to feed the human appetite for expression through color, texture, tone and dimension, through all forms of craft as we envision it. Artists understand and believe that people not only need food for sustenance, but they need art to thrive. Art opens hearts and expands worlds; it can impact a life and change a nation.


Ceramic Art booth - Brenda McMahon


As I sit at an art show I rest in the knowledge that I am an art farmer. Each person I connect with, each conversation I have represents raindrops drizzling the field in front of me. I sit not in judgment, but in wonder as I watch. I trust that this harvest will reveal itself in the perfect way at the perfect time. Mind you, that unfolding is not always what I want or what I think I deserve – but it is always perfectly suited to give me exactly what I need.


Guest blogger Brenda McMahon is a ceramic artist, whose award-winning saggar fired vessels and dimensional wall art tiles have captured the hearts of collectors for over two decades. Her unique take on the saggar fire process along with her elegant burnished forms, has added to the desirability of her work. Brenda’s custom-designed wall sculptures are in scores of residential and commercial settings nationwide. She works and teaches in her St. Petersburg, Florida studio. 



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  1. Beautifully written! You reached into my mind and put to paper (blog) my thoughts on the life of a visual artist.

  2. Truly lovely analogy. This hits a home run in my world. Thank you for sharing. It’s perfect.

  3. Thanks Lisa, that means a lot to me! I’m glad it resonates.

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