So, this past weekend I participated in the Chester County Studio Tour at Susan O’Hanlon Pottery’s studio. I had so much fun! I was a guest artist at Sue’s and was joined by two other amazing artists, Rinal Parikh & Chrissy Ritter, both amazing painters and amazing women! It was really a great experience working with these fabulous women artists & to be part of such a supportive and affirming group!
Last July was the first time I had done a show in about 13 years. My focus has been on running the gallery I am part owner of and I really didn’t have the time or energy to do this type of show. Shows like this are really hard for me, both physically & emotionally. I know I’ll get used to the physicality of shows again; it’s just retraining the muscles to do that work. Of course it helps when I can get my dear hubby to help out!
But the emotional hardship of these shows is a different thing. It’s so hard to put your work out there, to expose yourself. These things we create as artists are like pieces of our heart and soul. To share them with the world is so much like wearing your heart on your sleeve. Most of the time, people are so friendly, so kind and are truly interested in what you are sharing with the world. But, it’s so scary! What if someone doesn’t like what I do?! What if they think it’s awful or ugly or stupid? Or worse, yet, just uninteresting.
It’s like every person who comes into my tent is like a blind date and all those insecurities come rushing to the surface. What if they don’t like me? Am I good enough? I hope I don’t sound stupid. Will they see in my work what I want them to see?
So a lot of getting ready for an art show is much like putting on a coat of armor to protect your heart. I was ready Saturday morning, protected by my armor, ready to face the criticism and critique.
But, I didn’t need it. I got to meet so many people and everyone was so nice! So many people wanted to hear about my work and what it means to me and my inspiration to create it. I don’t expect my work to be for everyone. That’s not how art works. But, even for the people that my art didn’t speak to them, they recognized my craftsmanship and skill. The truth is though, I had dozens of amazing conversations with art lovers & artists alike about what my work means to me and the story behind what I make… why I love to make the art I make. It was a wonderful, fulfilling experience beyond anything I hoped for. And, I sold some art too!
I am so grateful to all of the people who came out to the tour. You have made such an impact on me. I have been energized! I came out of the tour exhausted to my core, but I got up the next morning ready to create more and to show more and connect more. I learned that it’s really about finding the right audience, finding the people who appreciate me and the uniqueness of what I do. I’ve heard other artists say those words & I feel like I really understand in my core now what they mean. It’s like a rebirth, an awakening, an affirmation of the direction of my work. I am humbled.