I've had a lot of surprises this past year.
I didn't expect to love painting so much that I took a second year off school to pursue it further.
I didn't expect to meet such an amazing and supportive online community through blogging.
I didn't expect to find myself creating abstract paintings, or getting into calligraphy, or actually enjoying a spin class (!).
And I definitely didn't expect my first art show to be. . . kind of blah.
Ok, there were a couple of warning signs: the mid-week one-night-only night club event wasn't exactly my scene, the event organizer wasn't familiar with the area, and there were a couple of reviews of the event online that I studiously ignored.
So I started out cautious. But somehow, in the frenzy of painting and varnishing (those fumes!) and wiring canvases like a mad woman, I developed some pretty high expectations.
I was going to sell a painting, no two, no, I might actually sell out the show! I'd better bring all the prints I had lying around, because those would probably go too. I'd meet some of my future long-term collectors. I'd meet some amazing fellow artists, form lifelong bonds, and maybe set up some awesome collaborations.
Long story short: I talked to a ton of nice people (mostly youngish men who actually go to nightclubs but may or may not be interested in art), gave a really awkward video interview to an eleven year old (yes, really), met a couple of friendly artists, handed out a bunch of business cards, and didn't sell anything.
To be completely honest, it was pretty disappointing. Afterwards, I felt like I was fleeing reality as we headed off for Utah, and I definitely took advantage of the wilderness's poor cell reception to avoid responding to excited calls from friends and family asking how it went.
I just needed a bit of time to process. (Ok, and cry a bit. That's important too, right??)
Fortunately, I ran into a bit of good luck about a week later: I went to a talk by an actual, real-life, full-time artist, Josh Coffy.
Among other things, he spoke about his on-going journey as an artist and specifically referenced an early group show. At a nightclub. Where he hung out and talked to other artists and didn't sell anything.
I wanted to jump up and shout, "Me too! I just did that, literally just this last week!"
I resisted the urge, but it was so completely reassuring to hear that even a meh experience like that could be a part of my journey to become a successful artist. And it was a good reminder that we always see people once they've made it, but that everyone has crappy experiences, rough patches, and uncertainty at the beginning. Something to keep in mind.
That's not to say there weren't also some amazing parts! It was such a joy to see my friends come out and support me, and S really pulled out all the stops (and all the paid time off!) to make sure I was set up and feeling good about the event.
Thank you so much everyone who came out to support me, and everyone who couldn't make it but sent me lovely messages! You guys are the best!
I know this post might sound like a bit of a downer, but I really don't mean it to be. I think often people are willing to share their trials and struggles only much, much farther down the road (when they have some reassuring successes to hold up as well), but I wanted to be honest about where I currently am. It may not all be pretty sunshines and rainbows, but it's real, and it's my beginning, and at the moment I'm ok with that.
And then much, much farther down the road, we can all look back at this documentation and chuckle. :)