Joseph Paquet painting in China in 2012

During the Plein Air Convention & Expo, Joe Paquet will talk about ways we can develop and manage our art careers that are both authentic and personal.

“The Business of Living,” by Joe Paquet, oil, 18 x 24 in.

Thirty years ago, when Minnesota artist Joe Paquet was beginning his career, he wondered why so many older artists were bitter about their unfulfilled ambitions. Now that he is roughly the same age as the artists he observed, he has a different perspective on the struggles and rewards of being a professional artist. Paquet will talk about making better choices that can lead to a more positive experience when he addresses the Plein Air Convention & Expo (

“At its core, our art is a reflection of who we are — our strengths and weaknesses, our fears and joys, and the choices we have to make,” Paquet says. “What I have come to realize both through my own struggles and those of my students and friends is that authenticity and personal vision require us to make good choices and constantly monitor both the image we have of ourselves and that we project to others. That kind of deep, honest evaluation can bring us to a place of fulfillment and continual growth.”

“Morning on the Mississippi, St. Paul,” by Joe Paquet, oil, 28 x 40 in.

Knowing Who We Are

“I believe life, when lived well, is a tightening spiral in which the intervals between cause and effect grow shorter when we are clear about our intentions and actions,” Paquet says. “Every time we make a choice that serves our highest self, we become closer to being the person we are supposed to be. However, every time we face a blank canvas or a crossroads in our lives, there are obstacles to bringing something new to the world, each of which can shut down the channels to organic growth and being open to new possibilities. When our ego is delicately tensioned with humility, there is the potential for unlimited development.”

Fear / Courage

“Who among us has not dealt with fear?” Paquet asks. “Art is indeed a mirror of our innermost selves, and as such we have the possibility of great exposure. The more we reveal ourselves, the greater the personal risk. It takes extraordinary courage to allow ourselves to be wholly unremarkable in our honesty.”

Risk / Reward

“The reality of the art world is that people can become successful and rich by playing it safe, traveling the well-worn path of pre-approved forms of expression, whether emulating those of the past or being derivative of those of the present,” Paquet says. “Just think about the kinds of images that sold by the tens of thousands when limited-edition reproductions of decorative paintings were the rage. The more predictable and derivative the image, the more copies were sold.

“At the opposite end of the market were the unique works of art that reflected the personal, unique vision of the artist. Those artists who followed their own voices faced a lonely and difficult task. The market may have changed and limited-edition prints may have disappeared, but the challenges are the same today as they were 20 years ago.”


“Self-trust and certainty are not the same thing,” Paquet explains. “People I’ve known who were always certain became effectively limited in their growth potential. Deep down, they were governed by fear. They were not prepared to trust their individuality and sense of worth to make the best choice for now, with the readiness to adjust as they re-examined their path forward.”

“Brooklyn With Barrel,” by Joe Paquet, oil, 28 x 40 in.

Success / Failure

Paquet explains, “Success comes in many forms and is wholly dependent upon what we most value. Americans have historically measured success in financial terms, and while there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, it has lately implied that businesses and individuals should achieve that kind of success as quickly as possible. Never mind long-term investment in one’s business, relationships, or artwork.

“Delacroix said, ‘The student should develop well and naturally, like fruit on the vine.’ I have watched dozens of students try to circumvent that kind of organic growth by focusing on sensationalism or media saturation. In my estimation, marketing ‘uncooked’ work only lessens one’s chances of making a profound first impression.”

It’s Work

“Somewhere along the line, some of us have lost the idea that growth is necessarily uncomfortable,” Paquet concludes. “Authenticity often requires us to make difficult choices and face a great deal of lonely work. However, that doesn’t preclude the possibility of enjoying the journey while enduring the more difficult aspects of the process. The key is to love that journey and to believe completely that is your best possible life.”

Joe Paquet is a Signature Member of the Plein Air Painters of America, the California Art Club, and the Salmagundi Club of New York. For more information, visit


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