Friday, 10 October 2008

I Like a Challenge!

Having had a good few days to consider what exactly happened with my unsuccessful attempt at getting accepted as an Artist Member of the Paisley Art Institute (PAI), and now that my chin has lifted back up to about chin level (with the help of multi-coloured braces), I have come to some conclusions {with more than a little help from my friends around the globe} which will help me understand where I went wrong and what I’m going to do about it:
1. Although my confidence was high, and I thought Mother Universe was sending me a positive message by plonking the call for new Artist Members on my doormat, I unthinkingly jumped into that application far too quickly. I had a choice - whether to do nothing and let it slide (as usual), or get my act together and have a go. I should have recognised I really wasn’t ready for this year. Ho-hum!
2. In retrospect I know I should have already been submitting paintings over the last few years into the PAI’s annual exhibition until I started getting some accepted [I have had drawings accepted before but never a painting] then after a few years applied for Artist Membership. I got it arse for elbow!
3. Instead of submitting a range of drawings and paintings I should have kept a much narrower focus that showed consistency. A flower watercolour, a charcoal portrait drawing, and a figure painting in oils was obviously too diverse. Now this takes me back to my second solo exhibition I held in 2002 where I had got together 37 diverse pieces, all properly framed. I remember the gallery owner saying how great he thought it was but it did look like a mixed exhibition! Ha! - will I never learn?
4. While I might think my work is the bee’s knees, in the cold light of day I can see that my painting technique needs to improve. I can only do that by working harder (slap about the head!).
5. My choice of framing was poor. I thought I could get away with cobbling a few different frames together and I can see now that was a big mistake. Whether I like it or not, the PAI is looking for better presentation with quality framing. I know this, so why didn’t I do it? - Idiocy, that’s why! (I hope you guys out there are also learning from this!)
6. I do not know anyone in the Paisley Art Institute, and they don’t know me because even as a Lay Member I have missed their AGM for the last couple of years. What do I expect? So if I want to do this I need to make more of an effort and try to get to know them better by continuing as a Lay Member and being seen.
7. I suspect not having a Fine Art degree is a hindrance but there’s nothing I can, or will, do about that.

Now whether I ultimately try again next year or not, there is no doubt in my mind that sitting here today I have two options:
1. Accept defeat and give up on it.
2. Consider it as a challenge and work for a year towards re-application.

The first option may appear to be the easiest - I just try to put it out of my mind and carry on the way I have been going, jumping about from one project to another. Unfortunately on this road lies perdition: I fail to make proper or sustained progress.

I know instinctively that Option 1 is not an option for me, or at least shouldn’t be. It will always be there at the back of my mind, gnawing away, as a constant sense of failure.
The second option is, on the face of it, much harder and with no guarantee of a positive outcome, but if I choose Option 2 what is the worst that can happen? I make better use of this coming year and create and develop a better quality of work which, properly framed, makes me stand a chance IF I CHOOSE to apply again. In other words - there is no harm in it, and most definitely a lot of good.
So there - I have talked myself into it and relish the challenge. Option 2 it is. Tally-ho!

But how do I illustrate this post? (because I know you have all dropped off ...yawn...reading this...yawn again…epistle..wishing there was something interesting to look at 'cause reading more than two words is awfu', awfu' hard). So, I’m going to finish off with my penultimate subconscious musing:

Neocolour II on paper, 40x30cm: "Curl"; I am very keen to pursue some sort of abstract painting but I recognise the love and enjoyment I get from figurative work, so the task I set myself is somehow to combine them. Not much to ask, so I've got a lot of thinking to do, and a lot of work ahead of me. I hope you won't be bored with the journey I have now set off on! Join me in my Great Big Adventure!


my croft said...

I may be over-reacting to the word “failure,” and I do understand feeling disappointed, but I think it would be well to think of the experience as a rehearsal and as a way of testing whether this is something you really want. Sometimes things sound just so frothy and glamorous in theory but the fact of them falls wide of the glow. So you’ve learned, it seems, that you really do want this – and want it seriously enough to work toward it. These are good things to know, and to know more concretely than you did before.

btw, I sent you an email with a couple of pics. did you get it?

daviddrawsandpaints said...

That's about it, Melanie - thanks. I think it's a positive way forward for me and we'll see where it takes me. I think it's good to have direction.

And, no I'm sorry to say I haven't recieved your email. If you sent it via Outlook Express then I am having a problem with that (must do something about it) so if you could please send it to:
that should do the trick!

Kari Gibson said...

It all sounds like an excellent plan! It probably takes all aritst members a bit of time to get accepted, these things usually do.

Meantime, enjoy doing what you do best, making art.

vivien said...

Kari is right - on speaking to members a lot of them had applied several times, not even just twice!

A really good attitude and plan here :>)

go for it!

The frames are indeed an important element - simple and classy enhancing the work.

People who had a ragbag of odd frames, when they applied, caused comments like 'how would they present their work for our exhibtions?' at selections. (peoples frames not yours! enough of the knocks for now! it's a relief that your chin is back in its proper position :>) )

I think it was good to share the downs as well as the ups, they are important learning curves, and this post should be really helpful to those considering applying for memberships or gallery representation.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Plans, plans, ma heid's fu' o' plans.
It was oor Rabbie who said:
"The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men gang aft agley,
An lea'e us nought but grief an' pain, For promis'd joy"
[From: To a Mouse]

I have set my neb forward, now all I need to do is sustain it and hope it doesn't come to grief!

Thank you both, Kari and Vivien, for your input. I had no idea when I posted this experience it would generate such interest and positive advice. I'm glad I did.

Andrea Kobayashi 小林アンドレア said...

Wow David, you have indeed been applying clear-minded, objective Scottish thought to your experience. Many artists would take the whole thing personally and go into some weird *mood* and blame the universe, or the planets or something...

You make many good points and I think the main point is exposure: entering often, entering the annual exhibition, getting to know the folk etc, etc. It it *rare* in any situtation like this that folk get the ribbon first go, or even second go. Persistence, patience and planning pay off.

Presentation is also important and you have made an honest assessment of your efforts here. I had a similar problem years ago with slides. I couldn't afford an SLR camera to make good slides myself, so I did overtime at work to pay a photographer and it was worth it. Now with digital media slides are like dinosaurs - thank goodness!

Now after all this blah, blah, blah we have the "4 Ps" of art: Persistence, Planning, Patience, Presentation!!!!

mawakeley said...

i do think you are way too hard on yourself, but you are tossing ideas around out loud (and in a most entertaining way too) which is great. you absolutely have to decide to do if you really want to be a part of a specific group and play by their rules.
i totally disagree with having a fine arts degree as a necessity. there are plenty of artists doing just fine without them. i'm sure there are galleries and artist establishments that are more open-minded about that in your corner of the world. some galleries don't require framing at all--how nice !
either way, i'm enjoying riding along with you on your journey which i know will take us to a happy destination. if we aren't having fun along the way what's the point of going there?

Brian McGurgan said...

Excellent plan, David, and a very helpful and entertaining insight into your thought process on all of this. For those of us like myself that will one day be looking to get our work out there to be exhibited, judged, and maybe even sold, this is all inspiring stuff. I'm looking forward very much to seeing your plan come together in the coming months. "Ganbatte kudasai!" as they say often in Japanese (I beat your friend Andrea to it!), meaning something akin to "do your best" and "keep up the hard work" (although maybe you already knew that).

daviddrawsandpaints said...

That's the architect in me speaking, Andrea! The 4P's was definitely me when I was working full time for other people, but since I've been working for myself it seems I forgot some of it and got lazy!
I need to re-establish some of that dogged persistence, planning, patience, and quality presentation again.

Marianna, dahling: Whilst I am declaring my intentions here I know it will be a long and winding road strewn with pitfalls at every turn (I have been blown off course before you know, and will be again, for sure) but I am determined to be in a position next year when I can make the choice, not have it imposed upon me.

And, Brian: I knew it, but not in so few words! My Japanese linguist (Andrea) hadn't quite got round to teaching me that phrase.
I'm glad you are getting something from this experience which will stand you in good stead. For my part I am partly embarrassed by the revalation that I am such a numptie, and partly invigorated by the overwhelmingly positive response from all of my cyber friends.

To you all: "Live long and prosper!" :o)

my croft said...

qu'est-ce que ca "numptie"? it sounds rather affectionate

daviddrawsandpaints said...

C'est un expression familiére pour décrire:
un imbécile;
un demeuré;
un arriéré;
un faible d'esprit;
un cretin; un idiot;
un 'tit'!
C'est moi :o)

Yellow said...

David, reading your whole thought process about this is great, and I strongly agree with your latter statm,enet about getting to choose at the end of the coming year whether or not you decide to re-apply at that time. I don't think not having a degree in art is a valid point though, but that's my oly quibble, as I think you hit the nail on the head in all other areas.

daviddrawsandpaints said...

Thanks Stephanie.
I agree - I don't think it should be an issue but it is just a strong suspicion I have that it does matter to them.

Mark said...

It won't actually have success, I consider this way.
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