Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Do credentials matter?
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Juried shows, awards, initials - do they really matter? I believe they do, but not for the reasons one might think.
About 15 years ago, when I had been painting for 5 years and was beginning to gather some steam, I started applying for signature status in some art organizations and entering juried shows. This was really good practice for wrapping my head around rejection (lots of practice). An interesting beast to wrestle with. It sends one to a few crazy places, one of the most interesting being, "Perhaps I should just pack it in." Fortunately the passion to paint soon dispels that nonsense, but after a while I got tired of licking my wounds and decided these things really didn't matter anyway. Who needs them? I'm selling lots of art, life is good, why bother? For the next 10 years, I didn't. And here's what happened. Sales were great, but my art stopped growing. Oh, it grew inevitably from practice - slow, steady, incremental improvement. But it didn't GROW. I became bored with this 'job' of painting.
About 5 years ago, due to some major shifts in what I wanted for my career, I began pursuing these things again. Here's what happened. My art GREW! In huge leaps and bounds, and continues to. The pursuit of these things is good for your resume, good for collectors to know about, good for your sense of peer validation, but here's why it really matters. It keeps raising your bar higher and higher, it makes you strive with every painting to not just paint, but to be the best painter that you can be. It creates within you a standard of excellence that you think about every time you step up to your easel.
Do I still get rejections? You bet. Do they bother me? For about 2 seconds, and then I get on with my quest to explore all the complexities of this journey to paint well, and that's a job that will never fail to captivate me.