The images of today’s slide show are from my very first solo exhibition in La Conner, WA (July 2005). Please excuse the image quality…
Just when I was wondering what I could focus on for my next blog post I received an email from a former student:
“…I am reaching out to you for some creative inspiration. My friend and I have decided to take on a show of our own… we’re booked at a local public gallery for November 2013. A BIG challenge for us, but we felt like if we didn’t stop talking about wanting to DO something that it would just become TALK… and goodness knows we LOVE to talk. Now it’s time to do the WALK. Yikes!
I know we can do this… but for some reason I’m very scared.
I have been making notes in my sketch book, and I think I just have to DO things on a daily basis. How do you motivate yourself to do this everyday? Every other day? With all that you have going on in your life, how do you make time? Please give me some advice on how you do this? How long did you prepare for your last show?…”
So many questions, and at this time I am very glad I don’t have to restrict myself to a small column in my former newsletter. I manage this blog and therefore have the space to elaborate and share my experiences freely.
Pondering answers to the many questions my student posed I will proceed at random. Starting with “How long did you prepare for your last show?” I am a little hesitant to set my last exhibition as a standard for anyone just newly embarking on the exhibition path.
Let’s go back in history, a good habit to get into when setting goals and working toward them in a realistic manner: My art training began in 1997 when I enrolled in the first London City & Guilds course, organized and facilitated by the Coupeville Arts Center on Whidbey Island, WA. From August 1997 through September 2000 I embraced everything design and contemporary embroidery. Translating various paper designs into textile art was the primary focus. In September 2000 I graduated with my certificate after mounting my first exhibition. There were about 10 students who each had a 10’ x 10’ booth featuring work created over the three years of classroom and homework assignments. We were so proud and happy to answer any questions from the public and fellow students. I repeated this in April 2004 with the Patchwork & Quilting Certificate and again in September 2004 with the Art, Design and Embroidery Diploma. Each time the space was a little larger than the last time and I was able to “spread out” sketchbooks and actual assessment pieces, complete with their documentation.
Apart from the courses I was enrolled in I followed a call for entry for an exhibition at the Whyte Museum in Banff in November 2003. It specified that only established artists needed to enter. In my cover letter I pointed out that I am an emerging artist and would like to be considered. After all, how does one move from emerging to established when calls for entry set such high standards? I was accepted with both pieces and have never looked back. The lesson I learned was not to get too intimidated!
Various group exhibition experiences from March 2003 to the present are and have been a great way to stay current and keep one’s name in the public eye. However, I treasure the challenge of creating, securing and mounting a solo exhibition and/or collaborating with a fellow artist.
I consider myself an organized and focused individual – others may label me as “lacking spontaneity”. I gather inspiration from my environment, whether man-made or natural. Since living in a rural community I have connected deeper with nature but architectural features and man-made structures still get me excited. To capture line and form, texture and color I carry my camera – just in case…
By now I am sure you are wondering how I secure a a solo or two person exhibition. Generally I proceed with a specific idea or area of research for a new body of work. Selecting a theme and creating a working title is important to help me stay on track. I start a list in my sketchbook, add words of inspiration, images, sketches, doodles and anything that may pertain to my subject matter.
My next task is to “audition” fabrics. I search through my stash, choose, reject and determine what might and might not suit this body of work. Often I dye or paint some more fabric. You most likely agree with me that it never hurts to have more fabric than is needed in the end. I also consult my extensive personal sample books created during my City & Guilds training. During this stage I put down any idea, design or “dream” that enters my mind as my sketchbook is never far away! I am not a person who works on several art pieces at the same time unless absolutely necessary. The exceptions are diptych and triptych compositions.
to be continued…
This theme is comprehensive and the post is getting long. I have decided to divide this topic into several installments. Come back Thursday to read how I select work for exhibition and make decisions along the way! Other posts will cover time management as well as how to approach and work with a gallery.