Saturday, October 23, 2010

Sidney Fine Arts Show Juried Art Entry - "How the Cow Comes Home"

Our Internet connection was down this morning so I apologize for posting this much later than I wanted and promised to...

Today, allow me to introduce you to "How the Cow Comes Home"... a whimsical, ceramic/polymer clay cow that simply stole my heart while I was creating her.

Photos often don't do justice to some art work and this is certainly the case with "How the Cow Comes Home".  It is difficult to see the subtle shading on this piece of fun loving art.

As many of you know, I don't plan my work.  I just get the idea, begin the project and allow the piece to tell me what it needs and wants until it is complete.  My job is simply to carry out wishes.  I certainly had a barrel of laughs with this piece... she was quite the fussy gal as she came into being. LOL.  With a "life purpose" of spreading warmth, joy, and laughter, this little cow snuggled right down into my heart and skipped gleefully through my soul every day I worked on her.

After another polymer clay piece, "If Pigs Could Fly"  I created earlier this year sold at the Sooke Fine Arts Festival, my friend Cindy wrote me an email and asked, "Okay, so what are you going to do next?"  I was still basking in the sale of my sweet Pig and hadn't really given it much thought.  Off the top of my head and laughing, I wrote back "Oh cows I guess! LOL"  and promptly forgot about it.

A couple of weeks later, our doorbell rang.  There was the postman with a package for me from Cindy.  I opened it up and burst out laughing.  Inside the package was a plain vanilla ceramic bisque cow (and a very tiny little pig).  I took it out of its packaging and set it on the kitchen table.  The first thing that popped into my head was "I want a personality."  "Okay, you've got it.  But not this week."  I said. Work on her began the following week.

When I "do" art, the storytelling side of my personality emerges.  Just about every piece I do has a story attached to it.  The story that forms and takes shape during the creation process is one I either "feel" or can articulate in actual words.  And so it was with "How the Cow Comes Home".  A "fable" was emerging and guiding the process!  It began like this:

"Once, there was a chocolate milk brown cow named Gertrude who lived in the mountains of Switzerland. In the winter, she lived with her family in a small village at the foot of a mountain. It was a quaint little town well known across the world for the tasty cheeses and chocolate produced by the farmers from her family's milk."

And, as "Gertrude" began to take on a personality, the story began to grow.  What fun I was having doing two things that I love both at the same time... art and storytelling.  I found myself becoming very curious about cows.  I had never really thought much about how cows ... certainly not as an adult.
If you have been following my blog for any time, you will know that when I was young, my grandpa had a dairy farm.  As a child, I remember feeling very intimidated by the size and strength of those cows in that enormous barn out behind the farmhouse .   They were BIG!
My grandpa was proud of his herd and each one of them (there were about 20) had a name.  According to my grandfather, each of them also had their own distinct personality.  I remember him and my grandmother talking about them as if they were their children... which, in a sense, they were.  Those cows were at the center of their livelihood.
As this whimsical little cow progressed,  "she" began to take on a personality.  I could hardly wait to get up in the morning to work on her.  Some of "her" ideas about how she wanted to become really did make me wonder some days!  Especially the morning when I got up and decided that I had to find the perfect compass to put on her head as sort of a brim to shield her eyes and to make sure she could find her way home.  Hubby roared laughing when I told him that little tidbit at the breakfast table. 
 "You're just having too much fun with this cow." he said with a big grin on his face.  "and  I'm having a great time just waiting to hear what comes next."

Fast foward... Adjudication time! When I unwrapped her at the "art centre" and brought her into the jurors room, I just told her to "go WOW those judges with your wonderful personality." Well, as you all know, she did.  She was accepted for the show.

The weekend of the show, the cold I had been nursing took a turn for the worse. I felt absolutely rotten and slept most of the time. It really ticked me off that I couldn't go out and enjoy looking at all the art on display. Phooey!!!

Fortunately, hubby and I had made it to the Artists Reception before the show actually started. Both of my pieces had received great placement. They were the first pieces you saw when you walked through one of the doors. I was delighted with the way they had been showcased.

They looked so wonderfully whimsical and fun in their spot. I felt so proud of them! I hung out around them for a few minutes to judge the reaction of other attendees discovering them. Onlookers laughed or smiled when they spotted them.

One older gentleman just couldn't help himself... he had to play with the teapot. I watched as he surreptiously moved towards to the teapot. Out shot his hand. He flicked the coil beneath the little bird with his finger. He burst out laughing as the bird began to move and sway!  I loved witnessing that moment. The pieces were "doing their job" ... spreading some joy and fun around. 
I was surprised when I didn't receive a phone call over the weekend telling me that one or the other had sold. I had been sure that the cow would sell. Who could possibly resist that cute, whimsical bundle of laughter and fun? 

I was a tad bit disappointed.  On the other hand, I feel it is an honour to make it into a show and 98% of the time, it's okay with me either way if a piece sells or it doesn't.

Being accepted into a show is a thrilling experience. It tells me that the jurors deem my piece "sell worthy" for this particular show.  After all, isn't this what the show's sponsor as well as the artist wants to do?  But it's also a way of spreading some enjoyment around.  There are bound to be some people who like what I have done.  The bottom line:  If my piece sells, it is a bonus. If it doesn't, that okay for me too.

Some people have asked me how I can be so okay with a piece not being accepted or selling.   Here's my answer:  I have never put a piece into a show that I didn't love in the first place. 

If it doesn't sell, it is not a reflection on the piece.  Affordability, size and "does it fit into my lifestyle?" are just some factors I believe are often considered by buyers.  But I also believe that a piece of art is a very subjective to the buyer.  If you fall in love with a piece, you will move heaven and earth to get it if you must.  That's certainly been my experience with art I have purchased.

But you know,  the best thing is that if  a piece of my art doesn't sell,  I get to keep it and perhaps show it again.  It all depends on the "rules" of any given show.  I recognize that juried art shows can't accept every piece that is submitted.  They often turn away pieces that I would consider beautiful pieces of art.  Art can be so subjective!!  Beauty is definitely in the eyes of the beholder.

I firmly attest to the idea that attitude is everything when it comes to artists selling their art.  It  definitely determines your altitude.  The way I look at it is this: 33-1/3% of people who see my art will love it.  33-1/3% will stand in judgment and find everything they can wrong about it or simply not like it.  33-1/3% will not care one way or the other.  My attitude is... who do I want to hang out with and who do I want my art to be purchased by?  The answer is self explanatory. 

My heart was light.  Off we went to Sidney to pick up my pieces.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that the cow had sold. I was delighted! You are about to read what I consider to be the best and most special part of this whole experience... getting to meet my buyer.

Accompanied by an art show volunteer, hubby and I went into the hall to pick up the teapot. As we stopped in front of the display area, a voice behind me said, "What a pleasure it is to meet the artist of these wonderful pieces." I turned around and there was a gentleman with a huge smile on his face. He extended his hand, introduced himself and told me that he wanted to meet the artist who had created the cow.  He had purchased it and was going to take it home with him.

I was delighted. Rarely does one get the opportunity of meeting the buyer of a piece in an art show. This was a very special treat. As we chatted, I discovered that he was a volunteer at the show and wanted to meet me to tell me how much he enjoyed this whimsical little cow. "Every time I look at her, I smile" he said. "I knew that I just had to buy her and take her home with me. I just love the whimsey about her."
It was such a wonderful experience to see and hear how much he appreciated what I had done and how excited he was to have the piece as his own. I was deeply touched by his words.

I let him know that it was a rare treat to meet the buyer and one of the things I liked to do was to send a personal thank you note to the purchaser of any of my pieces. I also told him that I usually wrote the "back story" on all of my pieces once they were done and I would love to to share it with him when it was complete. He was interested in receiving it so gave me his phone number and an email address to get in touch with him.. It was truly a lovely conversation and I was thrilled to bits to have had the opportunity of meeting him.

First thing the next day, I wrote him an email thanking him again for purchasing "How the Cow Comes Home" .  As well, I shared with him some of my more personal thoughts about the piece and the experience of creating it.  I promised, once again, to send him the background story when it is finished.

Yesterday morning, I opened up my email and there was a reply to my email from him. Only two words can describe it... beautiful and deeply touching. As I read it, tears welled up in my eyes.
In his email he told me that he had fallen in love with her the first time he saw her during the jurying process. When he saw her in the show, he was not only delighted but knew that he just had to have her. He wanted me to know that she will be treasured and for what he believes I created her for - to provide a sense of joy, fun and comfort in her presence. "And thus the reason that I wanted to meet you. I thought that these qualities in Whimsey (her new name) must be a reflection of her creator. That appears to be the case."

What a gracious and lovely thing to say.  How delighted I am that "little cow" has melted his heart.  I understand.  I felt the same way about her.  Now if that isn't special, I don't know what is! SMILE

"Gertrude" will be christened with her new name as I finish editing the story to send to him. I'll share the fable and the interesting "cow facts" I gathered (curiosity got the better of me!) with you story lovers out there when it is finished.
Thanks for stopping by today and sharing in my good fortune.

Wishing you an artful week,