You know? before I carry on with some of the trials and tribulations of My Big Adventure getting started with this being-an-artist thing, I want to set the stage with some very nice memories of the early days. It was summer, lovely mornings, lovely evenings. When I would wake up mornings and scan my brain for the day's plan from that sleepy, half conscious place: "what do I have to do today, where do I go?" I would fill up with happiness as the awareness that I had nothing to do, nowhere to go but into my studio to work. An early morning smile came to my face without fail, and I felt unbelievably fortunate. It is an incredible blessing to get to fulfill one's dream, a blessing beyond words. Every day I got to stay home to work felt like Christmas. Really. At that early stage I had only to struggle with my own insecurity and self doubt, I felt guilty for having such a studio in what used to be my garage; "who am I to have such a thing? there are so many, many people who are better than me who aren't so fortunate... " and "just who do you think you are, little missy? where did you get such pretensions?" So on and so forth, in the language most of us recognize as self doubt while we crawl beyond what we habitually believe about ourselves.
I decided that the only way out of those doubts is to act "as if" and simply do the work. In a way, doing is being, and I just got down to business with the doing. I worked happily every day. I was preparing for a couple of retail shows, applying to others. I got some validation from customers buying my work at shows (every single sale to a customer made me thrill inside). If I can figure out how to scan, I'll post some photos of my early work.
Working in my studio was a dream. I'd have the big garage door open, and neighbors would stop to visit while I worked, sitting at the umbrella table just outside. I'd often serve them a little wine and I'd be at the torch, or the counter, or the sink. Chatting while I worked.
My first big show was the Bellevue Arts Festival, a very good show that is often difficult to get into. I have no idea how I managed, didn't know then how competitive the jury process is, but I was accepted. I had NO idea how much work the preparation process was, and came home from a 2 week course at Pilchuck with one week to prepare. The realization hit hard, and a friend called one day to ask how I was doing. I think I whimpered and she simply said "we're on our way." They came, my aunt & uncle came, neighbors came, my brother came. People were in the yard, trying to figure out how to build the shelves and set up the tent, others were peeling resist at the kitchen sink, others were at the garden table wiring lamps, my aunt and mom were hand-writing business cards at the table. The support was unimaginable--and my naivitee was unimaginable! I get teary today remembering it all. The crew all took me to Bellevue to set up my display, and I was exhausted before the show even started. Really, I need to figure out the scanning thing so I can post some photos, a good task for today. I survived Bellevue, learned a TON about what is necessary to do a show, and even sold some work. During that time I presented mostly my flamworked "lamps" and goblets, but I had a few sandblasted items (goblets and such) on the lower shelves. They attracted a lot of attention, sold out, and that became a hint for me as to what "works" in the marketplace. I began my steep learning curve.
Things I learned from that first big show: do NOT plan to do anything other than prep. for a month before the show. I have wonderful friends and family, who happily came through for me--and wore themselves out. Set up tent and shelves BEFORE the show (we had been missing some critical parts). And to leave myself a good week after the show to sleep and recover. Another very important thing I learned was that I could do it. I sold just enough, got enough positive feedback to encourage me to keep going.
This is fun to write, it demands that I dig into memories that have faded into the distance, obscured by so much more. I'm so grateful to have survived, and you know what? I still wake up happy when I realize there is nothing I have to do today but work. Isn't that something?