My goal for this year has been to enter more juried shows, and I was just accepted into my first one! It’s not a big show, merely a local organization, but it’s a start. Antelope Canyon will be on exhibit in the Artists of Yardley 5th Annual Juried Show from April 1 to April 24.
It was only about five years ago that I began to think purposefully about being an artist. At that point I had been taking classes for about three years. I had taught art to children and teens for eight years (formally, that is, not counting all my years as a volunteer) until the school where I worked closed. I loved teaching. My first thought was to find another teaching job, but I couldn’t because I lacked a degree in art education. That meant that I needed to go back to college. Before I could even apply I needed a portfolio, so I started taking classes and workshops at Fleisher Art Memorial.
Now, up until this time I didn’t think I could be an artist. I loved to draw — although I would call it doodling, because I wasn’t an artist and drawing was for artists — or do anything creative, but I knew that my work wasn’t of professional caliber. I thought this meant that I didn’t have that special spark that separated artists from mere mortals. My only goal in taking classes was to build up a portfolio that would be good enough to get admitted to an art school, although heaven only knew how I would keep up with my my classmates who were “real artists” after that.
In my classes at Fleisher, however, something changed. At first I hung back, marveling at the work other students produced while hoping that no one would discover what a fraud I was. But class after class, my work started to improve. Eventually I was no longer embarrassed to share what was on my easel whenever the class did a critique. People even started asking me, in the same semi-hushed tones I used to use, “How do you DO that?” I began to grow in confidence and to see drawing and painting as skills that could be learned, rather than special gifts one was either born with or could never possess.
That was the biggest step in my professional development, the change in my own perception of what it means to be an artist. After that I began to take more concrete steps toward taking my place as an artist: joining an organization of artists (Artists of Bristol on the Delaware), exhibiting locally in open shows, offering adult classes, renting space in the Centre for the Arts, making my first sale, applying to juried shows, and now being accepted into my first juried show.
Just for the record, I entered three pieces into the show. The one they accepted was not the one I personally consider to be the best of the three. That’s how it goes sometimes. These are the two that were rejected: