Friday, August 1, 2014

Artists, Grow a Thick Skin



August 1, 2014

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Mt. Ida, Watercolor, Ellicott City, MD

This summer has been full of plein air painting in contests for me.

I apply for plein air competitions across the country – some of which I am invited to and some which I am not.  It’s both costly and time consuming – I must mark time off of my calendar while I wait to hear from these organizations.  I cannot schedule classes or workshops during these times and, time is money to a working artist.

I also compete regularly in national watermedia competitions.  The paintings that I select to compete are held off the market for months and sometimes years while I’m waiting to hear whether the pieces are selected.  The fees are outrageous and the shipping and handling costs for paintings which get into these contests are getting higher all the time.  One can always hope for an award to cover costs...which happens sometimes.

If you’re an artist and you want to work as a professional, one of the first requirements is a very thick skin. One must also have a sense of adventure, along with patience, tenacity and tremendous desire to succeed, but a thick skin keeps one sane.  Talent is, of course, an unstated prerequisite here.  And always remember:  there are many, many talented artists in this world of ours. 

Judging is a subjective process and if your painting is a good one, believe in it and believe in yourself.  While one judge may not select me to compete in a plein air contest, the next one may select me and present me with an award.  If I don’t try, how will I know whether I’m ready for competition?  And, if I don’t try and permit myself a few failures, how will I improve?  The professional must place herself right in the midst of competition and into the market in order to grow and succeed.  Placing oneself in the middle of the “heat” is the only way to learn.

But, grow a thick skin and don’t seek applause from your fellow artists.   Validation must come from within.  You must know passionately that you are doing what you're created to do.

Captain's Hat, Watercolor, Cashiers, NC

                                          



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