I'm feeling a euphoric mix of anxiousness and blissful content this week, leading up to the event on Saturday. For the first time I'm putting a collection of cohesive, themed, 'curated' pieces up for display, all at once. I'm inviting friends, family, collectors, and strangers to come and view the work, and to tell me how they really feel.
The short story:
I've poured my soul & heart & paint into these 20+ new pieces of art. I'm not asking you to come to buy something, I'm just asking you to come. To see it. To reflect, dialogue, & share this important night with me. Just be there if you can? Saturday, Avoca at 1311 Magnolia in Fort Worth, from 7-10p (come and go!)
I started painting (on a regular basis) almost 8 years ago. At that point I needed to create, to express myself, to make things that were decorative, or pretty, or functional. I wanted to make paintings, and so I did. Without formal art training, I had little confidence in my abilities in the grand 'art' scheme of things, but I trusted my innate love of color and form, and practiced my brushstrokes until my hand became stronger, my vision expanded, and my skill increased. And gradually, it did. When I didn't have a wall to fill at my home, a mural to paint for others, or a custom piece ordered by a client, I began making miniature art. To say I was doing this consistently would be an understatement; my husband would probably say it was more of an obsession (and, like usual, he would probably be right). Over the course of 3 years, as an at-home, on-a-budget, Mother of 2 toddler/pre-school aged kids, I used these mini drawings and paintings as a creative release, a challenge of my skills, and a mental escape from the redundancy of everyday domesticity. I found, online, artists all over the world who encouraged my work, traded their art with me through the mail, and, embraced me in their community. I found 'my people', and I came into my own artistic style.
With all that experience & practice of making 2,000 plus mini works of art (most were ATCs, the same-size of a playing card), I was ready to return to larger work again. My son (who had previously been so full of energy and life that I couldn't turn my back on him all day) was now 4, and in school part-time, & with that 'breathing room' and my new art studio, I decided to once again, put my work out there publicly. Spring of last year, I created lots of decorative art on canvas, and jumped into the art fair scene. I focused on all-handmade-only indie bazaars, art-in-the-park events, and submitting work for local gallery events. And it was successful; I loved it, I met others who appreciated my art, and I met many who connected with a piece and purchased it. For the past 20 months I have participated in 50+ events in the Metroplex. Whether donating to a charity silent auction, setting up my 10x10 tent to sell art, painting live as a featured artist, or creating a public mural, it has been busy. The art I have created has ranged from all sizes and subjects; some pieces have taken 2 years to find their owner, and some art has sold before the painting has even been completed. There have been ups: creating custom pieces as commissioned gifts, hearing 'you are my favorite artist' or 'my child is taking art classes now because she is inspired by you', or knowing that in 3 states, art teachers have formed lessons around my work! There have been downs: horrific weather at an outdoor event, getting rejected by a gallery or art festival, or people simply walking by my work with no comment, no emotion, no reaction, no affect. All of these experiences are invaluable, teach me something about myself, and (continue to) shape my work today.
Most of what I've created thus far is what I consider 'decorative' art. I've sought to create work that is lovely, or interesting, or would look nice in someone's home. I try to have variety in theme, size, and colors, to reach more people, to attract them, to have them connect with a piece and to encourage them to purchase. It should also be durable and easy to transport, cause it has to travel with me. I've also created smaller pieces that make great gifts. I've created art for a business.
This event is different.
Most of you know, as of 3 weeks ago I became a full-time artist. My part-time job suddenly became unavailable, and I had to make a decision: struggle to find a full-time job? Look for a part-time position working for someone/something that I don't really believe in? Or take the leap and create art full time? And so I did the latter. And it has been really rewarding; I have been able to challenge myself with my work, to create pieces with 3-d elements, to work on wood and with materials I wouldn't be able to fit into my normal art fair display. I was free.
For this event, 'changes of heart', I've used materials and combinations of materials that I've never used before. I've used these new pieces to reflect on the fluctuations of my emotions with my journey being bi-polar, with the rejection faced from being snubbed by others and losing my job, with the frustrations of daily life, and the immense joys of that same life.
I've put it all out there, and I would love you to come and see, to reflect with me, to share with me, to challenge me where I don't measure up. This is not where I'm asking you to pat me on the back. This is not where I want you to see my cute little art projects, like your kid's open house at school. This is who I am, what I believe, how I feel and who I am created to be, rolled into 20+ pieces of art hanging on the wall. It's a milestone for me, and this is the only time this collection of works will hang together. While some are up already as a preview, others will be added on Saturday to complete the exhibition, and pieces that sell that evening (or have sold already) will be removed at the end of the evening, so it's really a one-shot deal.
Life is busy, schedules are complicated, things get in the way, I get that. If you can't come, just expressing your support by 'wishing you could be there' is encouraging. But if you can come to Fort Worth, even for 30 minutes just to see what I am doing, it would (and will) mean much to me.
For me it's about coming into my own; following my passion, seeking my true calling, and, for really the first time, taking myself seriously. I'm trying to believe in myself even more than some of you believe in me --- which is hard. I'm trusting that as I am faithful, good things will come of it. And I hope you are there with me.