Whew, what a summer it’s been. I was fortunate enough to vacation on Lake Michigan with dear friends, then on Cape Cod with family. Of course, I had my easel and paints with me, because the light and the scenery in both locations, though different, are too beautiful and compelling to resist. I managed to squeeze a couple of workshops in, too, to help further my ability to express that ever-elusive vision and expressive yearning I hold within. I love how I can combine my work with all other enjoyable aspects of my life.
I painted en plein air in these locations; I painted in my studio when I got home. (You’ll see a lot of new seascapes and waterscapes in my gallery as a result.) To go to a new place enables one to see and feel and imagine with new eyes and new perspective, and it’s wonderful to get a new surge of energy while I’m on location, then deepen that experience in my studio afterwards. Because of that, my painting changed this summer. I can’t quite articulate yet what happened, but I know something did. It’s always good to grow. Even through the painful part of the process, growth is good.
In early August, I participated in the Bar Harbor Arts Festival in Bar Harbor, ME (I was juried in), and I took many of my new paintings with me. It’s always a bit nerve-wracking, those arts fairs and festivals. First, it’s a LOT of work. Not only does it require painting almost 24/7 to make sure there’s enough work to display and sell, but the physical labor of setting up a test run of the booth tent and subsequent tear-down, never mind safely packing all the art and necessary supplies, is downright exhausting. (You do it once to get there, and then you do it all over again when you come back.) That doesn’t even include loading the vehicle as well as all the preparation that goes into signage, marketing, booking a motel to stay in, and the like. And, of course, there’s the stress of wondering if all the expense will be worth it. Art fairs are not cheap. The good ones cost hundreds of dollars for booth space rental alone (food, lodging, and travel are extra). Since this was my first experience at the Bar Harbor festival, I was nervous. I’m not afraid of risk-taking (there’s little room to allow fear to take over when one is an artist), but still … what if I shelled out almost $1000 when all was said and done, and no one bought a painting?
I’m happy to say someone DID buy a painting … in fact, more than one person did, and it was a delight to talk with my new collectors and hear their responses to my work. A lovely attorney from Kansas responded so strongly to one painting that it actually brought tears to my eyes. I never expected that kind of reward, and when she asked if she could hug me after the purchase was completed, how could I say anything but yes? Another man came back to the booth three times to look at a brand-new painting, and finally said he had to have it for his home. Even people who didn’t buy had many things to say, and I fully enjoyed our conversations. I learned from them, which I love.
One of the things I learned was that the visitors who were most serious about art in general responded most strongly to my newer, expressionistic, almost abstract work. That was incredibly gratifying. (Now, mind, you, even if they’d been lukewarm about it, I’d still have to paint the way I’m painting, because it goes that deep and is that strong inside me, but hearing validation is always satisfying and gives one an extra boost of energy.) I think an artist can’t be steered wrong if she follows that strong compass of vision inside. Even if the validation might not be there for a while, she still must follow the vision. It’s the only way, really.
It was a good summer. A very busy summer, but a fulfilling one nonetheless. I am grateful to my collectors and to all those who support me along the way–whether it be family and dear friends who say, “Keep going,” or those I don’t yet know who stop by or send me lovely emails to let me know how my art stirs them emotionally. It makes a difference, it really does. Thank you all.