Your invitations to lots of exhibitions! Plus - Never giving up: when is it good to quit?
Lots of invitations to art shows for you today. I seem to have a bumper crop of exhibitions that I have work in, all through the summer. Lucky me! But of course, for every acceptance there are several rejections, and I'll talk more about that at the end of this post. First, the details of those art shows.

Sketch That 5

Sketch That 5 is the 5th annual group exhibition from Sketch That, at Heart in Headingley. Running from July the 1st to August the 13th, you can see the work of 13 artists, featuring painting, drawing and sculpture. The opening party is on Saturday June 30th, 13:30 - 15:30, so come along if you can. 

The Bowery is 10

The Bowery in Headingley is where I've been lucky enough to have two exhibitions over the last 5 years, and it's celebrating its 10th anniversary with a party on June 23rd, 6-9pm. All are welcome, and you can pick up a copy of their celebratory publication 'Then and now' which I believe features an interview with yours truly. 

SIZE matters

Continuing until June 29th, SIZE matters (at Gallery One in The World of Glass in St Helens) is a group show of art on a miniature scale. All works are a maximum of 20 x 20cm, and I've got two very small paintings in the mix. I'm sad to say that I haven't been able to get over there to see it for myself, though as I've mentioned before, The World of Glass is well worth a visit any time, as well as Gallery One. 

Buxton Spa Prize

You will recall my post last month about going to Buxton to participate in this open air painting competition. The exhibition of entries officially opens on June 28th at the preview event at The Green Man Gallery, where prize winners will be announced. Then the show continues until August 31st. As well as professional artists, anyone can enter the prize, from primary school children upwards, so it will be a real cornucopia of Buxtonite views!

Huddersfield Summer Exhibition 

Just this week I was pleased to hear that three of my paintings have been accepted into the Huddersfield Summer Exhibition which takes place at The Making Space in The Packhorse Centre from July 30th to August 11th. There will be a large group of West Yorkshire artists exhibiting, and there are prizes to win, including a public choice award. So if you go, please vote for me! ;) The PV will be on July 30th, 6-9pm. All welcome.

"And here's what you didn't win.."

For all these successful entries to art shows, and the self led opportunity that's Sketch That 5, there are of course lots of things I was turned down for, and many projects that I just don't have the time or resources to see through. It's important to mention these because it may not be apparent how much time artists spend hunting down art competitions, reading up on them to see if they are worth entering, checking if there are fees, and deciding if they are worth the time and money and effort. There is also the question of checking dates for clashes - for example, you might be expected to physically hand in your work instead of being able to mail it, and you can't be in two places at once. (This also costs money). As well as the time spent form filling, photographing your work, writing proposals and statements, an artist may put work aside to enter into a competition, knowing that it then can't be entered into a different one, as you can't put it into both - and then you may not be successful in your entry and you have kept that painting put of the public eye for no reason! 

Popular advice is to 'never give up' and to always keep trying. In fact, I bought my son this book You Are Awesome.. which really hammers the point home about trying hard and taking criticism, and applying it to improve. This is a message I stand by, but only to a certain point.  In Eddie's school last term I had a classroom tour and one of the teachers was saying 'Do we ever give up, children?' and they all shouted 'NEVERRRR!!!!'. Of course, Subversive-mode Helen here immediately thought of calling out 'Do you never give up on picking your nose? Do you ever give up trying to jump off a roof to fly?' because of course sometimes you should give up. The hardest thing is not keeping on, no matter what, it's deciding when is a good time to quit. What if you are chasing a stupid idea that is driving you mad with frustration? 

After I was told that my dream of making a living as an artist was about as likely to happen as becoming a pop star, I have been feeling pretty matter of fact about things. I know that I'll likely never be supported by art sales but I am here, slogging away making and writing about art that matters to me, and that a handful of people seem to appreciate. (THANKS PATRONS!) I will keep on entering art competitions, and failing sometimes (most of the time) and winning other times.  Rather than focusing so much on the pleasure of achieving your goals, and the hard slog to get there, people ought to think about what if trying and failing a lot makes you quite miserable. It might just be a very tedious process most of the time, with no guarantee of anything at the end of it. Maybe life is easier and you will be happier if you settle for less and just try and be ordinary? ...weeelllll... it's worth considering isn't it? Getting your head down and deferring the pleasures in life because you are working towards a goal that you ultimately can't get to might not be wise. It's so tricky because 'you never know'!

I will examine a motivational story from the above mentioned book - JK Rowling had 12 publishers turn down her Harry Potter manuscript before one took a chance on her and she became mega famous with her series of books/movies/merchandise/a theme park. But as Derren Brown points out in his book (WHICH I LOVE) 'Tricks of the mind' - we only hear about the success stories and not about the failures, so we are fooled into thinking there is a narrative arc which explains a person's success. 'That person worked really hard and is now the inventor of the iPhone' we read, when actually luck is the biggest factor, and random events pick the winners, mostly. Effectively, by trying to get my art seen by as many people as possible, and trying to choose what I think are the right opportunities to chase I am rolling the dice many many times and sometimes being lucky; and that is probably all you can do. SO to conclude. Don't give up rolling your dice and waiting for a random lucky streak! But also, if it's making you feel mad and sad, take a break and maybe try doing something else. It's fine, you only have one life, don't waste it trying to be something totally unrealistic, not unless the trying itself makes you happy.