Stepping back

In the last week I have submitted work to one open exhibition and one competition and have found it to be a very useful exercise and intend to submit to as many exhibitions and competitions as practical and affordable this year. Of course they all cost money – submitting work to The Towner East Sussex Open costs just £15 for up to 5 works, the RWS Contemporary Watercolour Competition costs £14 per picture, others can cost a lot more by the time you have taken into consideration the application fee and the travel costs to deliver, post or courier your work. On a practical note, all require submitted work to be recent (usually no more that 3 years old) and some require the work to be available a for long period, rendering it unusable for exhibitions, so I need to build up a sufficient quantity of work A good excuse to get busy, of course.

The most useful parts of the submission process so far have been composing my Artist’s Statement and putting together a proper Artist’s CV. I tend to keep an incredible amount of unnecessary old paperwork which proved invaluable in trying to fathom what I’ve been doing over the past 12 years. I know I had my first ‘proper’ exhibition in 2000 but between then and now has just been a bit of a blur of Open Studios and various group exhibitions in between the day jobs.

I managed to piece together a good history of my exhibitions from all the catalogues, entry forms and letters in my files (I may hoard, but I do it with a semblance of organisation) and was amazed at how busy I have been. The problem then was to pare down the CV to be just one page in length, so I had to remove the venue addresses, precise exhibition dates and organisers and end up with a month by month list of towns in which I had shown work  – see the bottom of my ABOUT page – but unfortunately I had to leave out my one almost-claim-to-fame. Probably the most exciting moment of my artistic career so far was when thieves were foiled from an art theft from the Guildhall in London and, amongst the stack of pictures they had removed from the walls was one of my works. I had three works in the Bank of England Art Society’s Annual Art Show, thanks to my father working for the Bank, and was rather flattered that one of these had been considered good enough to steal. But I cannot remember when the exhibition was, I was probably about 18 at the time, and I can find no record of it.

So to the Artist’s Statement. I procrastinated. I wrote notes, I composed lists. I read other artists’ statements. I went for long walks and stared at my works for hours in silence waiting for inspiration to strike. This is harder than painting – trying to explain why you paint what you paint and how. Without sounding like a pretentious nob. The first step was to actually analyse my own works and work out for myself why I painted them, to remember what was going through my mind, what influenced me, why I made the choices I made. I had actually been a lot deeper than I had given myself credit for and found myself really working on the themes and coming up with some really exciting ideas as I put together a proposal for work to be realised for an exhibition. this was a complete by-product of the process and  took me quite by surprise.

The statement I wrote was specific to the works I was submitting so I need to adjust it for general use – I’ll post it on here soon. I’ll set a deadline of this Friday. That’s another excellent thing about the submission process, working to a deadline. Without one, I just amble along.

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