I have had a new mantra this year. SHARE.
When I first started "sharing", I thought of my girls, and the common problem of hogging a beloved item. But I WANT to share my artwork. I want others to like and share my artwork too! I desire for people to see my work and yet it still has felt hard to share. It felt hard because I was not just sharing with my friends and fans. I was sharing with judges for contests, grants and curators- people I have never met. There was a part of me that yelled "those people don't define me." Then there was the part of me that said that "these are the only people who matter." NEITHER of these beliefs are true. Both my friends, fans and critics matter! They matter in different ways.
I started sharing locally, looking at opportunities nearby. Then I widened my search a bit to statewide, and regional. I also looked near where my parents live, reasoning that I have help and support there as well. I have looked at places where I wouldn't necessarily need to travel but could send my work anyway. (Shipping still frightens me a bit, but I am getting braver.)
I have been keeping track of my shares. I have submitted to or emailed 22 different places and I am not done for the year! Opportunities vary from exhibit proposals to open calls and a couple grants. I have gotten ONE yes! That yes came in JULY and it is November. Some were dead ends, but others are just a LONG wait. I have seven real possibilities right now. So why am I sharing this with you?! Because this is the NEW me. The three clear no's and the other unfruitful requests have hit me differently this year. They have not wiped me out with disappointment or discouragement, like a no would in the past. I used to get a NO and it was as if a REJECTION CLOUD would hang over me.
So let's talk about this one YES, because I have held onto this yes! This yes was for a wine label. The yes meant I have a piece that has been purchased for a public collection. It will be my first reproduction EVER and the thought of my artwork being on people's dinner tables next year is AMAZING. I am encouraged! I am excited to unveil that piece, called "Canoe Trails." It was inspired by an epic canoe trip that is another story for another day.
A recent online coaching course caused me to consider whether I have been successfully "completing" my process by sharing my work. I love the feeling of finishing a canvas or panel. Those final steps of finishing the edges drag out at times but my desire to hang my piece usually motivates me. But the act of finding a place for my work to be seen has seemed next to impossible. Not because I have tried and failed, but because I couldn't even get myself to start trying consistently. I've been too afraid of what "they" would say. Too afraid that it would be "a waste." In the middle of my fears, I realized that EVEN IF I AM NOT CHOSEN, it is NOT A WASTE. Do you know why? Because I shared! The people who said no still saw my work. As the artist I don't always get to know what the viewer was thinking, I just get the no or the yes.
In the past, I haven't put my work out there enough to create my own system. But now I have what I need to share it .....good pictures of current work, titles, dimensions, an up to date resume, an artist statement, and even thoughts contained in word documents detailing some plans for growing professionally. I am truly thankful for those who have given me the feedback to help me weed through my ideas. I admit I still struggle to send off packets sometimes and I have had to pay WAY too much for expedited shipping, but the real sense of accomplishment comes when "it is out of my hands."
This thought keeps coming back to rest on my mind: What if I dream small and succeed? And that success is really failure compared to all the big dreams that I thought were too crazy to try?