I just completed my stretch of 5 art shows in 6 weeks. What a roller coaster! I had challenged myself to say yes to everything that came my way two months ago, and that resulted in me agreeing to take part in all these group shows. It was a challenge! I questioned what I was doing… Would I have enough art?; Would I sell?; Would I burn out from doing too much?; Would my emotions withstand any negative comments? All of these things I didn’t know the answers too, but I wasn’t about to let that stop me. So, without much further thought, I just committed and got on with them.
Reflecting back, I want to share some of the process and moments with you.
I loved all of it, well… most of it!
It was a lot of work; painting, prepping, marketing and exhibiting but it was fun and I hope more people out there can say they love their job as much as I love mine. I love working for myself, I love creating, I love to hear the feedback, and I love meeting and networking with like-minded people. People that live the same struggles, frustrations, and excitement that goes along with what we do. Trust me; it’s not all about putting the paint brush to canvas! Although that would be pretty awesome if it was, and the art just sold itself, and I could hide away just painting whatever came to mind that day. With endless cups of coffee at hand, my paint brush wet as I hear the morning birds waking up. (I haven’t thought on this idea too much though, as I`m sure you can tell! :p)
The shows almost became meditative and routine, and I’m a little lost as to what to do now that I don’t have them to focus on. Mostly in my life I like chaos and no schedule, but I guess at some level I also need a little bit of ‘something’ within some sort of time-frame. Something to work towards.
But! Let me reflect and share some things with you… with the calm waters come some rough tides! It wasn’t all smooth sailing! Haha.
The start of every show comes with anticipation, hope, and nervousness. The evening before, you start getting everything ready, from inventory lists, to labeling and finding the paintings you’re entering. And, I truly mean finding. I’m not sure how I do it, but I usually lose one piece for every show, and I look high and low until I find it among the original pile. But for those few moments you start to panic and worry. I mean, where and how on earth can I lose a 16’x16’ painting so easily!?
The morning of the show usually approaches the second I’ve closed my eyes to just go to sleep, or at least it feels like it. Upon getting into bed, I’m going over everything; Did I remember everything? I need to grab ‘that’ in the morning. Did I set my alarm? I don’t want to miss it! I check it, again, for the 7th time. Come on, it’s not just me that does this before an important day…is it? I mean, normally I get up when my body wakes up… or when the foster puppy we have right now decides it’s time to pee, which can vary from 2am to 6am.
Dooms day has arrived… I mean, show day arrives and I make my way there. Whether I have an allocated position in the show, or it’s a free-for-all of where you hang your art, there’s always a certain amount of stress while setting up. Probably because I’m
on a time frame; I think I’ve mentioned that I don’t usually have much of a schedule with such deadlines and confinement. Well, I’m not used to such tight ones anyway!
Once I’m set up, there’s usually a group meeting to figure out the order of the day and the nerves start to relax. The meeting quite often consists of a little pick me up and positive energy building to start the day. It’s in this moment I can usually take a breath and realise, I’m not on my own and I’m not the only one feeling nervous, anxious and excited for the day. This bunch of artists, here with the same hopes for the day, same worries and the same nerves; we can do it together. I think for most of us it isn’t easy to sell what we do, so it’s nice to have to support from others. My confidence is building with each show that I do and with every positive feedback I get. It’s helping me realise that this is the right path for me, and I CAN do this. The Calyx Distinctive Arts Show I was just in said it the best. “It’s not always easy to sell our own work, but it can be a little easier to sell each other’s”. That really resonated with me, that all the other amazing artists here, had my back and I there’s. Pretty cool community to be a part of, yes?
No matter the results of the show, positive or negative, sales or no sales, they drain me. The kind of drained when there’s no more water in the tap, or the kind of drained when you barely have the energy to move to a different sitting position on the couch, or when you have no strength to reach for that glass of wine… oh wait, that NEVER happens! hehe I love exhibiting, but they do exhaust me emotionally (I have a sensitive soul) and usually by the end of the day I have a few tears in my eyes to release it all. (My poor husband! Lol)
At each show an artist puts themselves out there for judgement and criticism. Some people are kind and others not so much, all opinions are valid. (Well almost) Art is objective and what one person likes isn’t necessarily the same as their neighbour. Which is good really, otherwise we’d all be painting the same things in the same style, and where is the individualism in that? Us artists pride ourselves in being different you know! (Well I do anyway. Don’t call me ‘normal’…. I’ll be most offended! Lol)
So with one show left to do in June (as of right now anyway!), I would like to thank everyone in the shows that I was recently a part of.
I am thankful for all the work and energy that goes into organising and marketing each of these shows, and thank you to them for allowing me to be a part of it!
A quick FYI: the next time your artist friend asks you to go to their art show. I would bet quite highly that they’re not asking you to go to spend money, but to go and support. Having people attend creates an energy and a vibe to a show, and you can only do that if you attend. This is what contributes to an artist feeling successful at the end of a show. Thank you to all those friends and family that came to any of mine. I’m feeling pretty successful right now.