On Wednesday, I decided I'd been big and brave enough by myself and met up with Nicola, my art mentor for some gentle hand holding and reassurance. I'm glad I did. She reminded me of how far I've come, complimented me on the quality of the work, its presentation and my preparation. Perhaps more importantly, we talked about my scheme of work next week and for the next month. It was crucial for me not to get to this weekend and fall flat after the event. It seems I worry and stress unnecessarily. The self-inflicted pressure is counter-productive. May's objective is to lighten up a bit. To take more breaks. To breathe more deeply.
That probably tells you my state of mind Thursday morning. Poor Dave, I volunteered him to babysit me as I waited for the gallery to open. Happily, I was not first in the queue, I was third. What I am particularly proud of, was the fact I did not gush, I did not do my wet spaniel impression all over everyone involved. I calmly handed over my two pieces of work (the framer had ignored Dave's instructions and I wasn't happy showing the sunflowers in the end) and then Dave and I went on our way so I could complete my preparation for the evening. I needed good nails and two eyebrows stat!
I think I probably over-thought the whole thing as I planned everything down to my outfit. Inspired by Georgia O'Keeffe's iconic style, I made an executive decision and bought a man's suit. I don't have the income to be a fashion plate and I'm not interested enough to do it on a budget. Neither am I retro, vintage or hipster in any form. Classic fashion is beyond me, though I can do it if pressed. I'm too old and cranky to be sexy-chic and I didn't want to present myself as an artist as a sexual being. Don't get me wrong, I am a sexual being, but I don't want it to be part and parcel of my marketing. I'm not interested in flirting for the camera or anyone else for my art. Hence, the suit. I'd read this article about a woman wearing men's suits for a month and it appealed. A suit would be stylish, classic and comfortable. I talked to Dave about it and boy did we have fun, we went to Moss Bros and got the suit. I did have to get the trousers and the vest adjusted though; with the best will in the world, I'm still a curvy woman trying to fit into clothes that were meant for frames more straight than mine. I found women's double-cuffed shirts online. My neck size is 11.5 inches, men's shirts tend to start at 14 inches and any smaller are for boy's clothes which I'd have never buttoned up. Dave was my valet and did my tie for me.
Once dressed, I felt amazing. Power dressing at it's best. I sat and walked differently. And darlings, pockets. Men's tailoring has pockets in so many convenient places, it was just a question of where I put things.
Letting social media know I was on my way
Thirteen A is a small gallery. It's more the size of someone's front room than an exhibition space. We were definitely sardines. There were bottles of beer and ice in a large plastic tub in the middle of the room. I had an absolute blast.
The Private View was mainly attended by artists and their friends all crammed into this small space. We spilled outside onto the pavement as well, when it got too packed inside. I got to talk to so many incredibly interesting people. The show was an open submission and yet it worked. The diversity of styles and media meant it should have clashed, it shouldn't have made sense. And yet, it did. The synergy was astonishing. There were oil paintings, lino prints, acrylic paintings, drawings, 3-D pen sculptures and of course my work.
The whole point of the experience for me was to put my intention out into the world. I did what I set out to do. Earlier in the week, I watched an amazing talk by Paul Klein on YouTube, on How to be A Successful Artist. Amongst other things he talked about not the Art World, but Art Villages. He said the challenge artists face is to find their art village, the place where they can call home i.e. the internet, the gallery space, etsy, it's not so much about geography per se, or the base market, but an amalgamation of the two. There's also an expectation that an artist will move around for a while before they find their art village. Thursday night for me was my first exploration into the art village in Norwich.
I very much doubt I will sell my work this weekend, and that's fine. I was pleased to be there. I was after the experience, and I feel I presented myself well. I intend to create an art career that will continue into my dotage. This was the first step.
Yesterday, I went on a day's course on pastels. I had an absolute blast; it turns out I love soft pastels and it's mutual. Please bear in mind I was basically colouring in the tutor's tracing of the reference photograph next to me. But this is what I did. Yeah, I'm beginning to think I've got a good shot at this.