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Dare I show my Work?

I missed my scheduled date for this newsletter. I will try to do better. My website is still undergoing changes but my next newsletter should take you to my new Blog area.

I want to talk about the potentially scary thought of sharing or showing your work. When are we ready to take that plunge? Well, there is no time like the present!

It is one thing to create for ourselves or as gifts for others. We may even show it to our family or friends. We may share it with our Group or Guild. To imagine actually getting up the courage to submit a piece to a show or exhibit can be a potentially daunting task! 

If you have ever attended a fiber art exhibit, you know that no piece is the same. Each work represents a particular person’s artistic voice. That is what makes these venues such fun to view.

There are lots of different opportunities to show your work to a larger audience. Guilds have shows that you can enter. There are Calls for Entry for shows that may be local, regional or international. My recommendation is to start local and grow from there as your confidence grows.

Many exhibits have a theme. Most have some set of criteria for entry such as being a member of a guild or group or by paying an entry fee. Some shows are juried, with someone making decisions about entry acceptance. 

Each type of exhibit, with all of its different aspects and criteria, can be a great learning experience.

Have you ever entered one of your own works into a show?

If so, can you remember how you felt the first time? Just how difficult was it to submit your work to public scrutiny? I would love to hear your comments about your experiences. Any words of wisdom that you would like to share?

If you have never entered a piece, what are some of the reasons you have not? I would love to hear about those from you. Perhaps I can help bolster your confidence so you will move forward!

Exhibits force us to look at our art differently. It is normal for us to compare our work to others. Perhaps it makes you feel good about what you created. Or perhaps you think your work is not good enough for a show. All of those feelings are normal in our growth and development of our individual artistic voice. We are all in a different place along that journey, so please give yourself some appreciation of that fact.

It is easy to fall into the trap of identifying ourselves by our work. Each piece you create is a step in our own journey – an exploration using your artistic voice. We need to continuously remind ourselves that our art is not us. It is a representation of an idea, a message, a feeling. Whatever our inspiration, it is separate from us. (I can identify with this when I get frustrated! We are only human!)

I remind myself that each piece I create is not necessarily me, but I am a part of its creation. There is a creative process that allows me to engage with whatever materials I use to express something. I have found that I need to be flexible in my expectations of my work because what I end up with may not be exactly what I thought it would be. If I try to force myself down a certain path I will get frustrated.

So, I try to walk away and come back to it with a fresh attitude. If, instead, I am flexible enough to go with the flow and work with my materials (whatever they may be), I allow the piece to create itself. A sort of collaboration. A dance so to speak.

There are times when my chosen techniques don’t work as I thought they would. So, I try to look at each project as a wonderful learning experience. If I pay attention, I can learn from what happens and hopefully anticipate and better guide the process by adjusting things I have control over.

That does not mean that I may try to fix things. However, I may also have to accept the piece for what it is. By taking this route, the next project may come closer to what I want, if that is my goal.

So why am I saying all of this? I hope that you will be kind to yourself about your artistic journey and the pieces you create. You will get comments from those that look at your work. Whether it be from the jury process or attendees who view your work.

Most juried shows provide you with written feedback and hopefully comments about your work. If there are no written comments then you might want to reconsider entering in that show again. Written feedback can be very enlightening and provides input to your process. However, please remember that even Judges are only human. Your voice may be very different. Your work possibly not understood as well as you hoped. There are ways that you can help communicate your vision of your work, through your Artist Statement. I will talk about that in my next newsletter.

It may be challenging, but try to really listen to the feedback about your work. Not how it is delivered but the contents, the specifics. Some comments may seem to be cruel. It is hoped that the feedback you get is constructive and useful.

If you have the chance to talk about your work with someone and they give you feedback, use questions to try to understand better where they are coming from. That context may help you learn from the specifics.

Good questions include “what in this piece makes you say that?”, “why do you say that?” or “can you be more specific please” to get details. Realize that everyone has their own perspective and it may be very different from your own. It will quickly become clear whether the feedback is given with love or spite. And you can take its value appropriately. But whatever is said is okay! You can handle it!

Thank them for their feedback. Sometimes it is scary opening ones self to give feedback. If you are sincere, they may also learn from this interchange.

Try to distance yourself from any emotion that rises. Try not to defend your piece. Try to get their view of what they see. Try to look at the feedback and glean from it the aspects that can be a learning experience. There may be things to consider to improve your process. And, some comments may not be useful to you based on your artistic goals or where you are in your journey. They are good to know anyway.

Just remember that you are the one in control of how you receive the feedback. Some comments may be hard to swallow, but they will help you grow. You may walk away knowing that someone either “got it” or they didn’t understand the message you were conveying. That is okay!

If you have any feedback for me about your own experiences regarding this process please email me. I would love to hear from you!

I plan to offer my next 8-wk GPC Challenge in another 4 weeks or so. You can learn more about the Challenge on my website. Book a call with me and we can figure out if this Challenge is a fit for you. If it is not, then I would be happy to make some other recommendations for you. I would love to help you on your own artistic journey.

I am excited with all the updates to my website, www.RhondaDenney.com. My updated Blog page will detail more of what is in my newsletters. And that way you don’t have to save my newsletter if you want to review earlier content. So please be patient if the website is not perfect yet. It is a work in progress!  I would love your feedback on what you see there.

I will be creating newsletter/blog entries every other week. I create Instagram postings three times a week. Please follow me at @rhondadenneypigmentpatchwork so you will see each of my postings. You can DM me to chat about them.

I also have a business Facebook Page, Rhonda Denney – Pigment Patchwork (search for @rhondadenney.coloringonfabric to find it). You can message me there as well.

I would love to be a part of your creative journey! Want more confidence in your skills? Want to learn new techniques to enrich your creative voice? Want to overcome self-doubt or fear with using pigments to color on fabric? I can help. Click on the button below and let’s talk about where you want to go in terms of expressing yourself in your art quilts.

Until next time.
Take care

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