Well, I learned an important lesson on Wednesday: Sometimes when you leap blindly into unknown territory, you can land somewhere not only unexpected but wonderful.
As I have said, I've started painting again after a six year absence from the craft. Multiple hand surgeries and long term complications made painting just too difficult to do and enjoy. I have been doing a lot of painting in my journals but nothing on canvas. Just about three weeks ago, I decided, rather tentatively, to try again, ostensibly to deal with a flare-up of panic disorder triggered by current medical issues. The rhythm of brushstrokes, the smell of the paint, the experimentation with color mixing...I have missed it so much. It is an intoxicating craft and it works beautifully to keep me calm and grounded. It is still very painful (and sometimes still impossible) to do but hopefully, ongoing physical therapy will help make the process easier as I get stronger and healthier.
I had completed three canvases exploring Chinese folk art images in three weeks and was suddenly wondering what I was going to do with all these finished products. I only have so much wall space and I really only care to stare at my work for so long. So, in a burst of wild abandon, I wrapped the canvases in brown paper, gathered my courage, and set out to obliterate my comfort zone.
Every month, on the second Friday evening of the month, my home town hosts something called Arts Alive! Local businesses all over the city stay open late on that evening, provide live music and food in some cases, and host the work of local artists on the walls of their stores. A map of participating businesses, the artists, and the type of work featured is published in advance. It is a lively affair; people wander in and out of shops, looking at the art, enjoying the atmosphere, and buying art, of course, as the whim strikes. I've wanted to get in on this event for some time now but I really had no clue as to how artists paired up with each business. That part - the behind the scenes stuff - was a complete mystery to me as I had yet to enter the very healthy artist community here. I teach my classes and make my art but I keep it very much behind closed doors.
But something whispered to me on Wednesday that it was time so I bundled up my canvases and marched uninvited into a participating business that has, in my opinion, a fabulous atmosphere and layout for displaying art. It is a warm and sleek high-end furniture store with an emphasis on beautiful wood, splendid carpets, and unique pieces. The art is hung at eye level, the business only takes a 10 percent commission (that goes towards the employee snack fund), and there is plenty of room for lots of people to linger and gawk at art without feeling crowded. I waited patiently for the owner, introduced myself and asked if she would look at my work. (Remember...I'm wandering in completely from left field). She loved it and before I could really understand what I had just accomplished, I was booked for a solo showing in February 2008 and a smaller showing as well this October! Believe me...I tried really hard not to skip out the door. I'm still a bit in shock but my mind is rushing with ideas and I am so excited. This is the step I needed to take and how funny that I took it before I really knew what I was doing...