Sunday, January 27, 2013

Art and Fear

"The difficulties artmakers face are not remote and heroic, but universal and familiar."
- David Bayles & Ted Orland, Art & Fear

Take the plunge!

Tomorrow I turn in my pelican piece for our local art center's February show. This will be the first time I've shown my work in our new community. Paul and I have been mentioning the show to everyone we know and suddenly I'm getting cold feet. Ugh, here we go again. Enter Fear.

When people ask me what I do I say I am an artist or a painter. And that is indeed what I do. But sometimes I'm not sure my work is of the caliber that people imagine should go along with the title. I have this nightmarish thought that all these people that Paul and I know will come to the show and be let down by my work. They'll say "Oh very nice" to my face in that same tone of voice an adult uses with a small child, and then they'll whisper "She said she was an artist" to each other, shaking their heads sadly at my delusion as they walk away from my piece. 

On my strong days, I can accept that not everyone will like what I do. I can accept that I should make art first and foremost because I am driven to do it. And I also can see how very far I've come with my work over the decades, and I am proud of that. I just have yet to master putting my work on public display and not caring what people think.

I certainly know that these feelings and conflicts are not unique to me. Anyone whose work is seen or heard by the public deals with this in one form or another. I suppose that I shouldn't let it bother me that I have doubts. (Perhaps, in some strange way, these doubts should be proof to me that I am an artist!) I share them here in the hopes that someone else reading this will feel reassured that they are not alone in this process either.

And come Friday, I will stand next to my work and try to greet all the visitors with confidence. Who knows, I may be too busy worrying about my crooked teeth or whether my outfit makes me look fat to care about their reactions to my painting (but that could be a whole separate post...).

Do you have any favorite quotes dealing with art and fear? Do you have any stories about art and fear from your life? Please share them with us in the comments. I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A New Year's Thought

The pelican piece is getting framed this week and heads to the art center for a Watercolor Society show. The opening is next Friday for the monthly downtown Art Walk.

Typically I'm not one to participate in any special New Year's traditions; no resolutions or formal year in reviews. I'm lucky if I manage to get all of my holiday cards out to family and friends on time (major fail on that front this year.) so why add to the crazy December to-do list? But the other day I was minding my own business and a stray thought wandered into my brain; I completed 4 paintings last year. Four paintings that I feel are good enough to be framed and displayed. This thought stopped me in my tracks for a moment. I don't think I've completed that many "good enough" paintings in one year since I was a kid when every painting was a masterpiece. My average in the last decade has probably been about 1.5 paintings every 2 years. I couldn't help thinking to myself "Wow!".  I feel like that's some sort of personal milestone. It put a little spring in my step.

Sketches of pelicans from the Tracy Aviary.

Despite my resolution not to participate in resolutions, I have to admit to feeling challenged to beat my new painting record this year...

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

The Owl and the Pussycat

Saw-whet #1

I have a birding friend who has the best luck finding owls. It seems like every time I go out birding with her, we see an owl. She claims I'm good luck for her, but I think she is the one with the gift.

We got together around Christmas for an afternoon of birding in between our respective family obligations. Within 15 minutes of heading into the woods, she spotted a saw-whet owl in a cedar, and a second one not even a 5 minute walk further down the trail. Talk about luck!

Saw-whet #2

The weekend after we got together, my friend led a team in her local Christmas Bird Count. I asked her if she spotted any more saw-whet owls and unfortunately she did not. But she did find 13 screech owls! Like I said, I think she has a gift.


Gallery Cat #1

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know I love cats. I particularly love cats in businesses, such as used book stores and galleries. A lot of people bring their dogs to work, but cats are not as common. This exchange between a pedestrian and a gallery cat caught my eye recently and I wanted to share it with you.

Gallery Cat #2

And here's another gallery cat, just watching the world go by.

I'll return to some art posts soon. I have to get my butt in gear and finish the watercolor of the white pelican for a show in February and I'm working on an abstract piece!