I’ve been dreaming of being an artist for what seems like my entire life. If you had asked me when I was 12 what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have undoubtedly answered that I wanted to be an artist. There was never any question.
Somewhere along the way, I lost touch with that dream and took a big detour into engineering. Now I’m digging myself out of that hole, and feeling like I’m on the right track once again, but it’s been tough. I’ve been painting seriously for three years now, and while my work has improved immeasurably, there haven’t been any tangible milestones to imply that I might be on my way to the realization of that childhood dream.
To a point though, I’m the one who determines my success or failure at this venture, and my lack of progress so far is a direct result of my actions (or inaction, to be more accurate).
“The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.” — Robyn Davidson
So, I’ve decided it’s time to act, and this past weekend was my weekend to start.
I got a kick in the pants on Friday when a gallery in the mountains found my work through a painting organization I belong to, and contacted me about the possibility of showing my work. I have a meeting set up in a few weeks to show them my paintings in person – hopefully they like them as much in real life as they did on the web!
Thanks to Nate gloating about my acceptance into the OPA show, I also ended up showing my website to a gallery owner downtown who I highly respect and trust. My work isn’t to the point that he would think of representing me (he carries a lot of very established, well-known landscape painters), but I value his opinion very much and he seemed pleasantly surprised by the quality of my work.
So the good thing is that I learned that having gallery owners view my work isn’t the big, scary thing I had thought it might be. The world didn’t end. I didn’t face immediate rejection. And best of all, some doors might have opened that were previously locked closed due to my fear of failure.
With the boost of self-confidence that came from the gallery contact, I spent the weekend assembling my marketing materials and portfolio for a few other opportunities. I sent off a package to apply for a weeklong painting residency in Southern Colorado, offered as a contest by a prominent magazine. Then I took what to me seemed to be a big leap and sent off another package to a prominent arts publication, asking them to consider featuring my work in one of their yearly emerging artist features.
Every inch of my being fought me as I put together the materials for both submissions – my brain was trying desperately to convince me that I wasn’t worthy, that it was a waste of time, that they would laugh at my submission or throw it in the trash. But I decided that I’ve spent too many years listening to those voices, and that it was time to make a move. I figure it’s better to try than to never give myself the opportunity, right?
So, here I go, fingers crossed that some of these opportunities work out. Even if they don’t, I’ve taken my first steps. And those first steps will take me farther than staying in place ever will.
“The way to develop self-confidence is to do the thing you fear and get a record of successful experiences behind you. Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” — William Jennings Bryant