Sunday, August 16, 2015

Tender Post-Show Musings

I painted furiously for about two and a half months, ultimately completing 37 acrylic and mixed media pieces for my 2015 show titled Sparks of Madness. I began my journey with this project when a monster unexpectedly appeared on canvas last fall. Up until that point, the creatures who live inside my imagination have only come out to play in my private sketchbooks but suddenly, one poked his head out and said "It's time you let us out into the world so others can love us too." I doubted the wisdom of this idea throughout the entirety of my show preparation; my creations are like family, deeply personal, and I wasn't sure how they would be received. I didn't want to experience the bite of rejection or worse, the cold shoulder of indifference. It turns out I was so completely, wonderfully wrong.

The show went up on the wall Sunday, August 2 and the reception was this past Friday evening. The event began at 6pm. Many of the venues include wine pourings for charity and live music. I have no say in what musicians play during the month I am showing (although I will try to change that in the future.) This time, it was a quintet of very stern-looking ladies (and one gentlemen) in period costumes playing authentic Renaissance tunes on many strange but beautiful instruments - recorders, krumhorns, and viols - all gleaming dark wood and polished brass. It was pretty music, unique and lilting. It was easy to imagine a gathering of lords and ladies, in stiff velvet and crinoline, dancing practiced routines at a polite distance. As you might imagine, this high brow music was jarringly juxtaposed against my "punk rock" art on the walls, a collection of decidedly less than high brow creatures with snaggle-toothed grins, pointed horns, and bulging eyes. Throughout the evening, several people commented on this disconnect between music and art; next year, I will try to convince my host that perhaps more upbeat accompaniment would make a better pairing with my whimsical, energetic style.

In the end, however, I think I can say that the stars of the night were my babies on canvas, my shy sparks of madness who made their debut while their creator nervously watched from a couch some distance away. I like to sit where I can plainly see faces but not hear commentary; when someone wants to talk to me, the store owner sends them my direction. Otherwise, I want people to feel free to react however they are compelled, not taming their response to appease the artist hovering nearby.

And the response was exactly what I hoped for: smiles, laughter, close examination, excited conversation. People leaned in to read a title and then realized each piece had a unique, silly name. Many proceeded to read all of the tags, looking from the label to the creature, connecting with the characters I had put on display. One woman stopped and thanked me for the "joyfulness," a wide smile and twinkle in her eyes. One couple walked in and audibly gasped "Wow!" A little thrill ran up my spine. This...this is why I make art to send out into the fray.

It was, of course, also thrilling to see the little red "SOLD" dots scattered throughout my show. By the end of the night, I had sold half my pieces; that makes 19 in just twelve days. The smiles the cake, the sales the icing. I know that several pieces are destined for children's rooms. I hope those kids make my creatures their own, inventing new names and wild adventures for the sweet monsters who will guard their bedrooms. Many other pieces are going off to live in living rooms that celebrate art and color and smiles. 

A couple people asked "Will there be more?" Yes. There are so many more where these came from. I've learned my lesson. Trust your gut. Follow the urging of your heart even when your brain tries to reason you away from the leap. These truisms aren't always true but this night, they were. From the moment that first monster appeared almost a year ago, something quiet stirred inside me and I am so glad that I finally listened to that whisper (and the encouraging shouts of friends, known and unknown, near and far.) To you and them, a thank you.



12 comments:

Connie Rose said...

Congrats on all those sales ~ that's absolutely fantastic!! x

Heidi Orndorff said...

I am so thrilled and happy for you! I don't know you but I very much enjoy your art! I wish I could have gone to your show.

Diane Perin Hock said...

Congratulations on it all-- completing all of that work, seeing it all hung, having a fun and well-attended show, being able to see people's responses to your art, and selling so many!! Good for you!!

Snap said...

YeeHaw!!!!!!!

carol said...

That is so exciting!

Dorlene Durham said...

awesome! congratulations!

Leone said...

Congratulations, I am so happy for you and so pleased that you followed your gut and painted from your heart. What a wonderful affirmation.

Emie58 said...

So happy for you!!!! It's a wonderful feeling to feel validated.

Özge Başağaç said...

I am so glad that your monsters were well received. This was only the beginning and i am sure it will encourage you to go wilder :) Big big congratulations...Hope to see more of your work here, too.I really respect your dedication and imagination.

Holly Ratta said...

Michelle,
I'm thrilled for you, I found your blog somehow and although I've never commented, I can't wat to read it, I love your honesty and I love
your style. I've just recently begun to practice art. I'm a former perfectionist.... Thanks for the great blog content and tutorials. I'm so happy that your show went well and I'm happy to see what you come with next.

Stacey Vadaj said...

good for you! i'm glad following your heart came through. now where are those minuets.... lol.

Jennifer Shelby said...

Yay! I knew it! So happy for you!

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