Optimistic me

Wow – what a month February’s been.. so far. From disheartening disappointment at not being picked for either the Towner’s East Sussex Open or the Royal Watercolour Society contemporary watercolour competition, to the encouraging invitation to be resident artist at Gallery North for 6 months, an invitation by the SAA to film a clip for my web page, plus a number of bookings for my new classes, very appreciative audiences at my demonstrations and an enquiry to purchase a print of one of my works. Things are looking up.

Arlington - Rural Industrial

Arlington – Rural Industrial (one of the the pieces I submitted to East Sussex Open)

I’ve been a bit under the weather recently so haven’t felt like being very creative and have felt irrationally negative about my artistic prospects. I must admit that on one hand I prefer the impersonal rejection of submissions when you know that, if you haven’t heard by a certain date or if your name is not on the list, then you haven’t been successful – it gives you the excuse, to yourself, that perhaps your application simply went missing or was accidentally skipped- and it’s infinitely preferable to that highly personal individually addressed rejection letter telling you that, in no uncertain terms, you or your work did not meet the grade. On the other hand, a bit of feedback would be helpful – to be actually told that your submission failed because your photographs weren’t sufficiently good quality for your work to be judged, or that your artist’s statement sucked, or that you made some other kind of cock-up in the submission process, would be positive feedback and something that could be corrected next time. To be told your work is not good enough or is unsuitable, although it would cut to the quick and inspire temporary creative impotence, could eventually either be turned into a positive by inspiring a new phase in your artwork, or could be merely dismissed as an (incorrect) opinion.

I will submit more work to competitions and exhibitions – as I have said before, it is a focus and encourages me to keep working and trying new things, look critically at my own work and avoid the temptation to work purely on ‘commercial’ pieces.

Talking of commercial, when invited to be resident artist at Gallery North I considered long and hard. This is not really a commercial gallery, it is a venue to showcase work so I would not be expecting to make lots of sales while exhibiting there. If I am showing all my new work there, I can’t really go to other local galleries and ask them to show the same work. So do I hold back a series of new works, or exhibit under a pseudonym or maybe have two strands of work – one ‘artistic’ one ‘commercial’. A lot of the work I have done and the styles I use have been borne from commercial decisions – make the work of a size that is cheaper to frame, use materials that cost less so I can keep the sale price of work generally affordable, paint popular subjects – I think I’ll blog about commercialism in its own right at some point, it’s a big subject.

Gallery North, Hailsham

Gallery North, Hailsham

But, my final decision was to use this opportunity to promote myself and the gallery – it’s a great venue and a huge asset to the town of Hailsham but few people know where it is when you mention it. I shall do work specifically for the gallery, run my classes there, have prints and cards and promotional literature with my work and do a monthly free demonstration to advertise my skills as a tutor. I’ve already completed some new work (see below) and have other new pieces that have not yet been shown. The resident artists need to keep refreshing their work, a great word, so it’s the push I need to keep working on new pieces and, after all the artistic positivity of these last few days, I’m feeling pretty darned creative right now. I have a black gesso disaster to clean up (NEVER lay a jar of gesso on its side to lever off the lid), a lesson plan to write, some photos of work to upload for a competition and at least five new works in my head ready to get down on paper, canvas or glass. Life is good.

2 responses to “Optimistic me

  1. Strong sentiments and a great opportunity at Gallery North. I’m happy to shout about your demos there when more details are available!
    I’m sorry I’m double-booked for the preview this Saturday, but will definitely be along next weekend for the new exhibition

  2. When you love what you do, it shines through in what you do…and your art includes colours that aren’t even in the rainbow! I can’t look at a painting and strip it down, analyse each and every aspect of style, composition and everything…but if a work of art makes sense to me, and I get it, then that is good enough for me.
    And your art makes perfect sense to me.

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