Enter the Art Show Already

If you are at the beginning of trying to promote yourself as an artist as I have been for over 20 years now, this is my advice to you: Learn from my mistakes. Enter the art show already. Whatever it is. Do not let fear of how your efforts will appear to others hold you back. You will fail 100% of the things you do not try. I read that on “The Art of Blogging” and it still stays with me.

So many excuses. So many times starting and stopping. So much “That’s enough for today” but not getting back to it the next day. So much sitting in this chair wasting time while at the same time telling myself that I do not have the time.

black line drawing of feet in socks, an hourglass, digital clock numbers and a tissue box.
sketchbook page on a day that I was concerned about time

I currently have a painting in an art show. Like Henri Matisse’s first art show, I paid a small fee to participate. I imagine that my art is currently on the same level that his was in the beginning. A published review of his art at that time went like this: “If you want a good laugh, go see Henri Matisse’s paintings.”

While I acknowledge that these feelings of inadequacy are real, do not feel sorry for me. I do not bring this up to get pity. I do not want comments that tell me not to feel this way. I do feel this way and that is OK. I believe that to deny that feeling is to let it fester like an ignored foot blister after a long hike. It needs to be noticed and treated so it can heal. I simply want to acknowledge the feelings, tend to them, and move on. Continue to create. Continue to hike.

hiking boot, blue jean hem, leaves, snow
Continue to paint, continue to hike, but do not ignore the blisters. Tend them so they can heal.

I went to the opening of the art show and thoroughly enjoyed seeing the wide range of art styles. I appreciated that the juror talked in detail about his process for selecting the winners and honorable mentions. He had specific categories and assigned points to each piece in each category. I agreed with his conclusions. All the winners were deserving of their awards and I now have specific goals I can work on to improve my work.

“Wow” factor

Skill Level

Mastery of the Material

Elements and Principles of Design

Level of Difficulty

Anything extra that adds to or subtracts from the visual experience

This list is based on memory. He might have combined some of those ideas. I think this is a great list for assessing any work of art. It has to grab your attention and hold it long enough for you to notice how the material is used and how the elements are organized. Skill is important, but not the only thing. Viewers appreciate when a difficult thing is attempted and done well. Sometimes a simple picture skillfully executed is even better. The last category included things like the quality of the framing, the title, and if it conveyed an idea or concept. I would have separated those things out into separate categories because I am all about conveying an idea or concept, but too many categories can become another problem. Combining categories is smart when trying to look at lots of works of art and make decisions.

I hope if you are in the area you will check this out.

This show is up until April 14. I encourage you to go see it. There are many excellent walks in the area as well. Make a day of it. If you are not going to be in East Central Minnesota before April 14, too bad for you, but I am sure that there are displays of art by emerging artists near you that are just as worthwhile for you to go see. Please tell me about them in the comments!

deer running across a snowy path in the woods
This deer was the leader of the group. It was nervous about me but really wanted to get to the other side of the path. Don’t be afraid. Go do that thing you want to do!

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