Monthly Archives: March 2014

First Solo Exhibit…and my nerves are leaking words

Vernissage | Saltwater Birch Studio

When you’re at the beginning of a hopefully lifelong career, everything can go wrong, but if it does, at least you don’t have much to lose.

I had an opening reception for my (first) solo show earlier this week, and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous.

Vernissage | Saltwater Birch Studio

Partly because, as with most creative pursuits, there’s an inherent subjectivity of what is good or bad art, which always makes it feel like a bit of a gamble when you put your newest work out there. There’s no objective way of knowing if your paintings are actually good when it’s partially a matter of taste.

I know they say that as long as you like what you make, and are proud of it, let the rest of the chips fall where they may. But there’s definitely a large part of you that wonders (and worries) whether others will see what you see.

Vernissage | Saltwater Birch Studio

When you invite others to greet you and see your new works for the first time, there’s no place to hide, whether from criticism or praise or ambivalence, and that’s quite scary.

I guess it may always feel that way – this friction, hoping that what you think is your best work, is also going to be received well by the public, but knowing those are two separate things and that they’re not always going to align.  

vernissagesolo3.jpg

Though for all that (ir)rational fear, my first solo show went pretty well – really positive comments, and a great turn-out. It was inspiring to hear and see people’s reactions firsthand, to witness their enthusiasm, listen to their thoughtful questions and try to respond in an equally eloquent way (though mostly failing at that last one…hard to sound eloquent when your nerves are leaking words, so you’re not even sure what’s coming out of your mouth anymore. Did I mention I was nervous?). Though people have been coming up to me this past week, mentioning that they had a good time, so all in all, I’d say it was a success.

vernissagesolo4.jpg

Though, at the opening, I did have one of those moments, when you take a peek outside yourself, and realize this is it – this is where you’re supposed to be. It’s a happiness of a different breed – not the fleeting mania, but the pervasive sense of calm and contentment. I may have to put this realization onto a placard, and hold it up in the face of doubt.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

I’ve been busy these last few weeks preparing for my first solo exhibit. It’s nerve-wracking, but exciting. The show opens in a week, and luckily, procrastination has also been on an extended vacation!

The painting series is on display until May 1st at Galerie ARTcadienne.

The thing with art exhibits that you don’t really see, is that it takes at least 1-1.5 years from the time you begin painting to when you actually have an opening. In between, there’s the whole business of submitting proposals to galleries (who decide their programming one year in advance), waiting for a response (while keeping hopes high), and finishing painting the rest of the series (this particular one has 29 paintings). It’s a long process, but to see it come to fruition is definitely rewarding!

On a different note, I stumbled across this helpful advice to emerging artists from Canadian-born, London-based Andrew Salgado (who is also quite an incredible painter). Here’s a snippet that made me chuckle, and also rung true:

Learn from your mistakes and learn quickly. Don’t let negativity, pessimism, and failure get you down. It doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

What (advice) i should have ignored: never use white, never use black. Who the fuck doesn’t use white or black? I’m not a watercolor painter.

The Never Use Black rule, we meet again! I’m not sure where it came from, but I’ve heard it so many times it’s become white noise. Admittedly, only after I tried to follow that rule for a few weeks – which did not go well. Let’s just say that all the portraits I painted during that time ended up in the repaint pile. And I’ve said my goodbyes to rules involving which colors to use/not use.

A marathon, not a sprint. I’ve long suspected the biggest difference between those artists who succeed and those who don’t, is sheer persistence. To make it through those first five years, definitely takes some blinding faith (not the god kind, more like faith that everything will work out in the end…well, hopefully before ‘the end’).