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 Letter to a Young Woman Artist

Part 1

Read Think and Grow Rich (by Napoleon Hill, 1963).
Believe in yourself.
Read How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist
(by Caroll Michels, Holt, 1992).
Show up at openings of galleries you want to be in.
 Don't get sidetracked or distracted by anything in your life. Keep your focus.
Draw on anything you can all the time you can.
You need 3 things: shows, reviews and sales.
Be desperate.
Dress in a serious, professional manner.
Make lots of friends and keep their addresses.
Think what can I do to make a living at this?
Give talks, give advice and your knowledge.
 Share with other people - Don't gossip. I have overcome my shyness by focusing more on my desire to be a successful artist.
Look for people who are changing art history. Check out artists you admire. Learn from them or their example.
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Part 2

 I loved the Feminist Art Program at CalArts. I went there after two years majoring in Art and minoring in Women's Studies at Sonoma State. Mimi Schapiro was very important to me. She taught us a lot by her clear words and the example of her life. She was generous and supportive.
    At the time I was very shy - hardly talked at all. I was very naive. I thought one just got into galleries by doing the best work. I had no idea about networking or how to make a living at art.
    After five years of blowing glass in New York City, I switched back to painting. The money in glass is amazing but painting is where my heart is.
    I get flack for being a woman painter a lot. One reason l'm clear about women's issues is that I have two young daughters who paint. Our society treats woman as second class. Many times half my battle is to be clear about my goals and to ignore people that don't understand my value. That is more important than the physical (whether l'm included in this show or that.) If I have my head together eventually my work will be appreciated in the long run. I have hope.
     Even though my grandmother and mother are artists, this society encourages women to be doormats. I am not a doormat.

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    The biggest frontier we face is our brain. If we can overcome the attitudes and limitations trained into us, woman artists will be just as successful as men.

    It has been very liberating to me to do this series of paintings of Great Women of the Past. So many of them were well known artists. Its enabled me to view myself as the natural continuation of a long line of women artists.

    We must support and encourage each other. We must share our history for the sake of women and men both.

Cynthia Genn Toffey