Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Coming full circle:
From rejection to acceptance into the local visual arts showcase.

Showcase Sculpture: "Winter/Imbolc"

When my son started pre-school, I started painting again. I hadn’t painted since a horrible humiliating experience in a college watercolor class. Don’t misunderstand me, the prof was right. I had a lot to learn and I knew it. I didn’t let his intimidation force me out of the class of art majors. I stuck it out to the end. I could tell he respected me for it. But the experience took its toll on my soul and after the class, I quit painting.

After my daughter was born, I vowed to teach myself to draw, something I knew I needed to learn. So when my little baby went to sleep, I took out my pencils and drawing pad. I made a little progress, I think. But as a full-time mom of a daughter and then a son, I didn’t have a lot of energy left over for my own creativity.

When my son entered pre-school, I had two hours, two days a week to do art. I set up a studio in the corner of my bedroom. My studio was a drafting table, stool, watercolors, my old brushes and a few sheets of good paper. Out of the reach of little hands, I was able to enjoy the pleasure of alizarin crimson washed skies and Payne’s grey mountains. In a few months, I had a piece that I thought came out well. I had gone to the local art show, so when I saw the call for art, I hung my watercolor on my dining room wall, took pictures and submitted it.

It was rejected. I felt embarrassed and disappointed and humbled like I was by that long ago college professor. But this time, I didn’t stop making art. Instead, I started taking classes. First, it was beading classes where I created mini-landscapes couching tiny seed beads into mountains. I took pieced imagery creating a two-sided quilt with an abstract painting on one side and a machine embroidered portrait of Katherine Hepburn on the other. Drawing and painting classes came next leading to a love of pastels and the beginning of a fascination with faces. My first sculpture class required me to make a clay bust. It was not love at first sight.

At home, I was still painting with pastels and paint on my small drafting table in the corner of the den. But I was trying to get my fabric painting to have more of a sculptural form. I tried different glues, fiber and battings when that didn’t work, I bought some screening at the local hardware store. When I couldn’t get the fabric to stick, I gave up on the fabric and started painting the screen.

Ah…aha! It worked. It did exactly what I wanted it to do. But, it was a little weird, I mean how many people do you know who make art out of window screening. But it let me do all the things I liked, fiber, paint, faces and sculpting.

I didn’t know it then, but I do now. I’m a sculptor. Once I started sculpting screening, clay and metal, my paintings improved. My drawings became more skilled. After all those years of feeling like a failure in art class, I found out I was able to draw and paint. I just needed to do it in 3 dimensions instead of 2.

This year, butterflies fluttering in my stomach, I filled out the entry for the same local art competition I had entered my watercolor in almost 17 years ago. Only this time, I entered my Season’s sculptures. A few days before Christmas, I got a present from the past, my Season’s sculpture entitled, “Winter/Imbolc” was accepted into the 27th Annual Visual Arts Showcase.

On Saturday, I went to the opening. It was packed with people. Artists, art lovers young and old wound around an amazing array of photography, watercolors, oil paintings, fiber art, and sculpture. Coming around to the end of the room on a white pedestal, was my sculpture “Winter/Imbolc”.

Sometimes it is worth the wait. It felt like I’d come full circle and it felt good.


Janet Grace Riehl said...

Susan, this is an important lesson for us all: the need to reframe rejection and move forward, no matter what.

Janet Riehl

Susan GT said...

Yes. Yes. Yes!!
It can be so very hard to do. But when faced with giving up, I just loved doing art too much to give it up, entirely. I regrouped, and kept going.

Robyn said...

I relate to this post so well. Thankfully we keep on making art even when faced by rejection and somewhere down the line we come into our own.

Susan GT said...

The more I move on, the more I find out that I'm not all alone in my 'rejection' as I thought before. It shines a new light on all of this for me, showing me that even rejection is, perhaps, part of the process. Not a fun part, but maybe a necessary piece to the puzzle that becomes our art.