Sunday, June 12, 2011

Life Lessons: Humbled

5x7 inches, acrylic and collage on mat board
In mythology Raven is often seen as either a Creator figure, or a Trickster

Sometimes the universe sends you a message.  Get over yourself.  

I work pretty steadily on my art, but try to balance the time and psychic energy I spend on it with time and energy spent on my family and friends, my health, and upkeep of our house.  OK, so the housework has suffered.  And I occasionally think that just because I participate in a show, occasionally am recognized for my work, I will get my ego fed every time.  It ain't so.

Much of the winter I worked away at painting  a series of miniatures based on vintage family photos, and I liked the results.  After I was invited to put them in a Door County gallery I decided to drive 200 miles north to attend the opening of the show (and visit relatives).  First I couldn't find my little paintings, then I realized that the gallery owner had placed them in the entryway facing in, so the only time they can be seen is when customers are headed out the door.  In addition on the day of the reception she stood in the entry greetings people and having friendly conversations with people she already knew.  That wasn't me.  I introduced myself, but had the distinct impression that an impression hadn't been made.

This spring I decided I wanted to improve me skills in direct observation, and also wanted to lose some of my fear of people coming up to me to talk when I work outside in public.  So, I bought a second hand French easel for working outside.  Practiced with it.  Upgraded my collection of acrylic paints and brushes, and went to work at painting en plein air.  I cleared my obligations for the week of the plein air event in Beloit, paid the entry fee, and drove there and back about eight times.  The weather was challenging windy and hot, but I persevered and came up with two paintings done is a simple and bright style that I thought was eye-catching, had them framed, and entered them in the show.  I was told the show's sponsors wanted to meet the artists, to come early.  I did.  I never figured out who the sponsors were, so I didn't introduce myself to any of them.  When I saw the obviously professional quality of many of the other paintings I knew my goose was cooked.  It was.  Well done.  When the judges got up to explain their choices I didn't disagree that mine were not among the best.  They weren't.  But I couldn't see why some other paintings, some drop-dead gorgeous, were ignored.  So, not only my artistic skill, but my judgement was called into real question.  I did enjoy a glass of wine and some tasty appetizers, and I did sit and chat with some other artist friends. Looking for the silver lining here.

To be clear, I paint because it challenges me.  I paint because I enjoy painting.  I paint because it keeps my mind and heart engaged in the pursuit of interesting and beautiful things.  I paint because it is fun. But sometimes I just feel like a retired lady who paints as a hobby, and that isn't so fun. In my heart my art is more than a hobby. I don't have to win a prize every time, or sell every painting.  But I'd sort of like to be able to pay for my materials, and sort of like to be valued as a creative person.

It's a nice day.  Maybe I'll grab a paint brush and work on staining the deck.


Lisa said...

Keep at it, Sherry. I think you have what it takes. Sometimes the style of paintings doesn't quite fit the show. I loved both paintings you entered. You are working to develop your talent. You'll get there.

Ann's Art said...

Great post Sherry, I know exactly what you mean, I've been there too. You are so right when you say that you enjoy painting and that's the key : enjoy. Happy painting:)

RH Carpenter said...

Sherry, your post touched my heart! We've all been there - and will be there again: paintings hung in the darkest corner or in the entry where no one sees them; people not taking you seriously (or worse yet, expecting some grand comments to come from your mouth about your painting style and reasons for painting). I paint because I can't NOT paint - it's something I've found and nourished and it grows - but sometimes a few weeds need to be pruned out the garden (like jealousy if you get in a show a colleague doesn't get in; or you win a prize; or someone at a show stands in front of your painting and tells their friend how much better the painting would have been IF I'd used more greens or whatever! ha ha). Keep growing! I think your work is outstanding.

JoAnn said...

Have you tried selling through ETSY yet?