Thursday, May 11, 2006

Not Worthy

I just found out a few weeks ago that I’ll have the opportunity to join 15 other artists in August at the Forbes family ranch in Southern Colorado for a week and a half of painting on what happens to be the largest conservation easement in Colorado.

I’m jazzed about this for countless reasons. For starters, I’ll get to spend nine CONSECUTIVE days painting, which is pretty much unheard of for me. Second, I’ll be painting on a ranch that I would never get to visit otherwise, which happens to consist of 250 square miles of the Colorado scenery I’m addicted to painting. And I’ll get to spend some quality time with a group of talented artists outside of the typical workshop setting. The residency is also going to provide some good publicity in American Artist magazine, and a show at the Forbes Galleries in New York. What more could I ask for?

To be completely honest, when I sent in my application a couple of months ago I thought there was no way I would be accepted. So, now that I’ve found out I get to go, I’m feeling a bit of trepidation. You know - like am I really qualified to be a part of this group?

I was doing fine until I got the list of participants and spent an afternoon googling them (what would I do without the internet?). Among the group of fifteen are a few folks from the Art Students League in NY, a guy who is an art history professor, another guy who teaches at a well-known atelier, a handful of very successful established artists from the West, and a couple of younger people who have university art degrees and have studied in fancy places like Italy

Then there’s me. I’m a chemical engineer. I design air pollution control systems 40 hours a week and paint when I can fit it in. I’ve only been painting landscapes since 2002. I don’t have ANY formal art education. I’ve taken four workshops with landscape artists whose work I respect, which count for a total of only ELEVEN days of instruction. On top of that I’ve taken a couple of figure drawing/painting classes through the continuing ed department at an art school in town. My mantra as I enter the art world is, “Fake it ‘til you make it.” Faking it is what I do, since I don’t really have any fancy credentials.

I feel woefully unprepared to hang out with this group of people for nine days. What will I have to say? I’m just sure that I know nothing about art compared to everyone else there. Eeek!!!

BUT! Because I’m a little bit freaked out, I know that this will be a valuable experience. That’s how it always works. The things that are easy usually don’t teach you anything, right? I just hope I can contribute something to this group of accomplished people. Maybe I’ll have a different perspective. Who knows? I guess I’ll find out!!


  1. what an absolutely amazing opportunity!! I'm sure you're very deserving of it!

    (I know that spot from your painting in the post... I love seeing places I can recognize in your paintings!)

  2. Wow, this sounds really exciting! Don't worry, you will learn much from the others and they will learn from you as well. Devotion, energy, stamina, vision, these are things you must have to be able to keep painting while working full time as well.

    It took me awhile but I finally realized that all the other things I did in the past all fit together and help my work be what it is now. Your design of air pollution control systems must help your painting, though for the life of me I can't imagine how! :-) But you will know, at some point anyway.

  3. What a great experience for you. Ten days with all those talented people in a beautiful location.
    Sounds pretty nice - you certainly deserve to be there.

  4. Here's the really cool thing about not having a thick resume and gaining this opportunity--your painting got you the job.

    I agree we learn most from the things that really freak us out. Huge congratulations.

  5. Look, you know as well as I do that some people can spend years and years painting or writing or doing music and still totally suck at it even though they fancy themselves artists. Some people just have the spark that it takes to be good -- were that not true, we would all be movie stars, or artists making money, or best-selling writers. It's not about fancy degrees or number of years of experience; it's about talent and potential. I think you'll find that those other attendees will have as much to learn from you as you will from them.