Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Awash in Color; Electric with Energy

'Greeters instruct artists on the procedures"
My blog title perfectly describes “change-out” time at the Art Council of Southwest Florida Cooperative Art Gallery at Coconut Point. On the first Monday of each month, new paintings are brought in and paintings which have not sold are changed out. There is always excitement in the air and congeniality as artists chit chat, get caught up on the new art scene and the latest gossip.

ACSWF is a juried gallery, and each piece must be judged by a reviewing board who determines which paintings will stay and which must go. The criteria are strict and demanding.
Some artists “play it safe” with predictable scenes and styles. Others take risks to see how far they can push the envelope sometimes ending up on the losing side. The disheartened take their heavy burdens home and hope that next month will be different.

"Registration -- in with the old, out with the new"
I am one of those risk takers. I like to experiment. Sometimes I get lucky, and sometimes I’m disappointed. I stretch myself and challenge myself as much as possible. I like to try different techniques and enliven my palette. There is a certain light or glow I seek that emanates from my paintings. Until I have achieved that look and feel, I am not satisfied.

Every artist that submits artwork in any form is hopeful that theirs will qualify. The gallery is filled with amazing pieces awaiting the thumbs up from the judges. It is a learning process. The judging is a combination of objective analysis, based on the skill and knowledge of the judges, and their subjective opinions of style and taste.

I have sold several pieces online that were rejected by a judge at one point or another in my career. Beauty truly is in “the eye of the beholder.”

Critics are everywhere from the “man on the street” to your favorite aunt Mildred. Everyone has an opinion and they’re all too eager to share it with you. “Why did you do this?” someone once asked me. When I said, “I felt like it.” They didn’t know what to say?

Those little stabs hurt just the same. After all, each painting, each creation is your new baby. You’ve conceived it, nurtured it, and given it life. Who are they to question your motives or your creative license? Still we must be willing to learn from those who have more experience than us. It is a slow and painful process.

How does an artist or any professional deal with "the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune?” We must develop thick skin. We must turn our hurts and sensitivities into tools for learning. This is part of the proverbial “learning curve.” We brush off our hurts and try again. Each time we do this, we become a little tougher, a little less sensitive. We weather the storms of life and we forge on. Not because we have to, but because to stop would be to die. Not literally, of course, but spiritually. If we allow others to deter us from doing what we love, we die a little each day.

Believing in yourself and your ability to learn is the biggest hurdle you will overcome. The Cartoonist for Shoe said it so well: “We have met the enemy and he/she is us.”

Our enemy is not the critics, the judges, or our family and friends, it is us. When we give into fear and disappointment, we are the losers. When we face our enemy and the challenges that come to us, we become strong, weathered, and fierce.