At exactly 3:46 pm on Sunday, January 30th, I loaded the last of my 14 paintings into the 4 Runner, ready to deliver to The Old School House Arts Centre in Qualicum Beach first thing Monday morning. This was the culmination of almost an entire year of being fully absorbed with preparation for my first show, and I suddenly felt like a bird that had been released from its cage. Free at last from the worry of not being able to deliver on my promises made when I submitted my proposal for this show (I did deliver). Free of concerns that under the pressure of having to produce I may have had to compromise on the quality of my work (actually, I think the quality of my work improved through the process). And now free to pursue other projects I'd been mulling about in my head.
The show is called "Journeys" and features paintings from my travels, so the variety of subject matter available to me was almost infinite. Nothing boring or tedious for me, but still, I've been looking forward to a break from that theme to try out a new idea I've been interested in experimenting with. Stay tuned. I won't say much about it until I try out the first painting.
My original submission was made with considerable trepidation. Rejection in this business is as common as mosquitoes in a Manitoba summer, and if rejected, would I be discouraged from sticking my neck out again for a long time? Excitement came with the news of acceptance, and later a sense of desperation crept in as time passed and my progress was not meeting my expectations. Once I had the 13th painting finished and the final one underway, I regained my confidence that I would get it all done in time. But in the last two weeks before my deadline I started to feel like a fraud. Who the hell did I think I was passing myself off as an "artist"? Surely the selection jury at the gallery is going to think they made a huge mistake once they see my actual paintings in real life, not just on a computer screen. Why would I want to embarrass myself publicly with this egotistical need to show off my amateur efforts? I realized these feelings were probably not uncommon pre-show jitters to which I had no exclusive claim, but they lingered until I saw the reaction of the Hanging Committee volunteers as I unwrapped each piece. Whew, they didn't exchange glances of disappointment amongst themselves, wondering how they could be expected to hang a nice show with this material.
Those volunteers did an amazing job of hanging the exhibit, and with the superb lighting in the gallery I thought my work looked better than it had in my studio. I was delighted, and at the opening reception two days later I was so touched by the flowers that had been sent by supporters, and the terrific comments made about the exhibition by the attendees. With music from the grand piano drifting through the gallery, and wine loosening tongues, it was an elegant and comfortable affair, and my only regret was that I was not able to speak with everyone that showed an interest in my work because I was too busy talking with someone else interested in the paintings. I enjoyed it thoroughly.
I have read of artists feeling depressed after their work for a show is finished, and not being able to think of anything to paint next, but I can't say I fall into that camp. "So much to paint, so little time" remains my mantra, and I already have my canvas ready for the first piece in the next series. However, I have to admit that two days after the opening reception I felt an overwhelming urge to cry, not from sadness, but probably as a release of all the emotion that went into this whole experience. I fought the tears back because I had been invited to dinner that night, but maybe next time I'll just let the tears flow and enjoy that part of it as well. Must be my well-hidden sensitive side.
The show runs through to February 18th in case you are in the area.