What is Success?
I remember early on in my venture to become a professional artist I believed that once I had an exhibit, especially one in a reputable gallery, that my leap to a full-time career as an artist would be established. Then, I had my first exhibit in a large, beautiful gallery, complete with a visit from Calgary's Mayor, Bernard Callebaut chocolates, champagne, a jazz quartet performance, and an interview on A-Channel. And when the exhibit was over I didn't have one sale. I was surprised. So, on the advice of professionals in the business I kept exhibiting, a lot, and began investing financially as advised by numerous professionals. I definitely wouldn't advise anyone to do this unless you have the extra funds as you do not necessarily reap what you sow.
Then I believed that success arrived once you were recognized by the media. Well, I've been on television, radio, newspapers and magazines, and my life hasn't changed a whole lot. Though I do have to admit I've had the great privilege of meeting many amazing people through these opportunities.
I believed that I had to be a teacher, to have my Bachelor of Fine Arts, to take part in art sales, you know...whatever someone else was doing. And I was exhausted.
And then I began being involved in the arts only how and when I felt compelled...I found that I enjoyed showing work in public spaces not necessarily only galleries; that I loved sharing the work of other artists; that it gave me joy to share my knowledge with others. Hearing regular and positive feed back was balm for my soul. And, the bonus was that I began selling work, to everyday people, not just art collectors. It made me so happy to know that my work was living in people's homes. I sold a lot. And then I didn't.
But I kept at it because I love to paint. And I also began to focus on what was really filling me with joy...exhibiting is great, but openings are always a challenge even though I really enjoy meeting people, I feel drained for weeks afterwards. I prefer to exhibit where I don't necessarily have to show up at an opening, though I am aware of how nice it is for people to meet the artist so I do occasionally exhibit with a formal opening.
I found that I enjoyed writing so much so that I took a few more writing classes and began to submit my work for publication. Though I realize that I don't want to write full-time. I still need to paint.
I love being involved in my community. So far that has included many volunteer hours with art projects and even paid hours completing public art. It really is great to interact with others when I work and to involve them in projects so they get a chance to feel connected to their community through art.
This is a biggie, and I never realized how important it would become...I love working as an Art Program Coordinator for our public library. I love connecting with people, coordinating exhibits for other artists, organizing art classes for kids, writing about art for our local newspapers, and every other odd-art-related job that comes up. Plus it's a definite bonus to be paid for this work.
I love to learn. Since art school I have continued to study and work in a variety of media and am currently enrolled in a Bachelor of Fine Arts program...just for fun.
Being able to contribute to several causes that I feel strongly about is very near and dear to my heart. I am always amazed when my contributions exceed expectations for fundraising. I love to be able to give, I love that the organizations are so grateful for my contribution, and I love that the recipient of my work gets so much pleasure from what I have had the pleasure of creating. It touches me deeply whenever a patron of my work connects with me and shares how my work enhances their lives. Such a great honour.
In all of this, I have found where my success lies. I believe it is achieved through finding out what is important to you and in working hard at it. Just like those 'overnight successes', musicians or actors or authors who have worked for years before they were 'found' and then continue to work at their craft.
I found that there is a natural ebb and flow to this creative life...that I had to try things in order to find where I belonged. Yes, it's not always easy, and yes, there are times to change the path a little
or a lot, but boy is it worth it.
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