Monday, August 10, 2015

My Debut Solo Show: who knew?... How I got here.

I'm celebrating my Debut Solo Exhibition of my work this summer.  Forthy -two pieces: this has taken just a little planning to get here...and I want to share with you how I did it.   

This could take a while to bring you up to I'm going to break this down into a few posts. 
The first is... ya dah!...
 The Beginning:

You may remember, if you've read any of my blog posts or have seen my website, how I got started painting in watercolour.  So, this short story (uh, not so short as it turns out) will begin after the initial years of learning and practice.  Not that the practice ever ceases; everyday, I do my best to perform my craft like a job, in order for me to get there from here.

It all started several years ago, about 2008, if I had to guess; that was the time when I had begun to take myself seriously as an Artist. When I say seriously, I mean that I had decided to work toward the goal. A dream, and why not? I was recovering from ill health and watercolour became my elixir.  So, I used it as an opportunity to help change my circumstance.

My first lesson: Listen to my instructor!  Leslie Redhead MEd, NWWS, AFCA, CSPWC; an excellent Artist and Instructor; and my mentor, by the way... she taught me...If I paint or draw something each day I would reach my goal.  It was not going to come without work.  That 'ol 10,000 hour rule that Malcolm Gladwell writes about in Outliers is sooo true.  

I would and still do, take photos, organize them, crop and create compositions from which to work; I set up vignettes, light them, photograph them before printing them and finally painting the image.  That wasn't much or was it?  

Oh, but then comes the process of archiving the piece for provenance.  That seems to me like a whole job on its own.  There is so much... the marketing, social media, all of it.  In the beginning we do everything ourselves, and it can become overwhelming and exhausting.  So with everything there is to do...each day I pick something and get on with the task of reaching my goal of becoming a professional Artist.   

My friend Belinda Parke tells me all the time "You need an assistant."  Soon enough,  I will have an assistant. Trust me.  It will happen.  "E-ven-tu-al-ly!" At least that's what I keep telling myself.

One more note on the things I do each day. Looking at the big picture: this usually results in being overwhelmed and thinking "What was I thinking?" So, I try not to fall into the old trap of self-criticism, that is to say, if I fall short, I have a mantra, "it is just a smaller goal toward the bigger goal", and when I fall short as I sometimes do...I try not to sweat it.  " When it is so overwhelming and fear sets mantra has become "Faith is stronger than fear!". and then I simply try again the next day.  So, my take home message is..."dunt-ta-da-daaa... drum roll please"... be good to yourself, and consume bite size pieces only. 

Wow, did I digress...but it needed to be said.

Meanwhile, back onto the journey...

It didn't take long before I signed up to become a member of two local art clubs: the FCA, on the recommendation of my instructor Leslie, and SPAC on the recommendation of my framer at the time.  Within a few months, I found myself involved with each of the Boards of these groups.  This enabled me to make new friends, network, learn, and enter shows in a supportive atmosphere among people I knew.  Networking with other Artists is important right from the beginning. 
Community Arts Counsil of Saanich Peninsula

Art organizations generally meet at least monthly for about 10 months of the year.  I try to stay current, but again, I cannot do it all, all the time.  So, I pick and choose where a meeting may fit into the busy schedule I have created to get the job done.

Working my way through the maze of adjudicated exhibitions is another step toward becoming a professional artist.  This process can be very rewarding, and you can learn a great deal about yourself in this process as well.  However, the fear of rejection has often held me back, putting myself and my work out there for others to judge? Never would I have guessed that I could. 

I've learned how to accept rejection gracefully and not take it personally.  I have heard so many stories from some great artists that tell of sending their image off to be juried in one show, only to have it rejected; then send it off to another and win 1st place. There is a lot to the process; and at the end of the day, it is subjective.  Even if done correctly, it can still be technical, time consuming, frustrating, and scary,  so what you can, ask for help when needed, and repeat my mantra..."Faith is stronger than fear!"  It will happen.

A Wet Christmas, Oak Bay 22x28
Having my work judged and accepted into some of the finest shows in Canada and the US by renowned Artists/Jurors makes me feel lighter than air.  I really feel surreal and I float along with the knowledge that I'm doing some things right; it really lifts me and carries me along to the next challenge.  Disappointments have occurred and will continue along the way, but many successful Artists tell me, and I now believe it, "don't worry about the rejections, there will always be someone who doesn't like your work, but do not give up."

And again, I digress..and again it had to be said...yes all that just to get to the studio...jeesh.

Back in my studio: These days, I take a few minutes, at the end of my painting time each day  to set up what I will work on for the next time.  This way, when I do arrive in the studio, I am motivated to do what I set out for myself, rather than thinking about what I could do and worrying and procrastinating about what I may do. 

Because I deal with chronic pain and occasionally depression. I awake each morning, and assess my situation.  After coffee, stretches and walking the dog, I will sometimes spend time in my home, doing as much of the domestic chores inside and out as I am able to do.  You know what I mean, doing all the things that are necessary to maintain one's sanity.  After some nourishment and a rest I head downstairs to my studio space, post my hours on the door for that day, and close the door so there are no distractions  and I paint, paint, and paint.

Keep your brush wet.   

PS Sorry for being so verbose today; hopefully you get the message.
Next post: Creating a Body of Work

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