Today I took the time to update my website, adding new images, exhibit info, awards, and details about upcoming workshops and shows. Taking stock of the year so far, I was amazed to find that I've been on an unprecedented (for me) winning streak: I was juried into 5 of the 8 national/regional shows I submitted images to, and 2 of those paintings received cash awards. As of this writing, I just mailed off my painting "Chaco Canyon Conversation" to the National Watercolor Society's 95th International Exhibit in San Pedro, CA, along with 3 supporting paintings that (pending juror consensus) will bestow on me the distinction of Signature membership in this esteemed organization. Attaining signature membership in NWS has been a 12-year goal of mine, and I'm excited to learn of the results of the jurors' decision in late September. (Scroll to the end of this post to see a visual step by step process of how I built this painting from start to finish).
What does all of this mean? I can't speak for others, but I can only say that it's affirmed that I'm on the right track, and I'm where I want to be with regard to my art. It's not about the small cash prizes (although they do buy a few tubes of paint), but it is about garnering the recognition and respect of my artist peers--something money can't buy.
Incidentally, I didn't get to the "big kid's table" all by myself. Oh, sure--I put in the painting hours, took workshops that pushed and furthered my skills, participated in critique sessions to help me learn to analyze paintings strengths and weaknesses, went to gallery shows for inspiration and to support other artists, volunteered my time in various art organizations, and taught watercolor, acrylic and marbling classes. All of those things are essential to honing/improving one's skills as an artist. But if I'm being honest, I have to give credit to my many mentors, artists, and teachers who paved the way for me and helped me when I stumbled (because I most certainly veer off course a time or two). You know that question that people often ask: "how long did it take you to paint that?" Only now do I understand that the correct (and honest) reply is "my entire life".