What is it about art competitions that make me want to crawl into my shell like a snail? The selection day for the Annual Exhibition of the South African Society of Artists is coming up on Saturday. Art competitions get me into a bit of a panic, the thought of exposing my work for critical scrutiny makes me very nervous.
The Society invites three external judges who select paintings for the exhibition and choose prize winners in the various categories. A massive number of paintings are entered so I will be really lucky to get all three paintings selected. A few years ago, all three of my paintings were rejected. If felt as if a knife had been driven into my guts and turned slowly. I was horrified that I had allowed myself to be exposed emotionally. I was depressed for months after and didn’t enter paintings for another three years.
Somehow we artists need to learn to deal with negative criticism of our work, we have to toughen up and not take it so incredibly personally. I am hypersensitive and I think that hypersensitivity is an essential quality of my personality that I tap into as a painter; it acts as my, “Super-awareness” radar. A while ago, during a bad patch of depression, I was put on anti-depressive therapy for a few months. A curious thing happened; the therapy reduced my levels of sensitivity and I was unable to motivate myself to paint. I could stand at my canvas and paint in a purely technical way, but was unable to feel the drive and passion that normally gets me painting so I stopped painting until I stopped swallowing those mind-altering substances. So I have decided I need my hypersensitivity, warts and all, it is part of who I am.
So Saturday is “D” day and I am a glutton for punishment! I have been asked to assist with the process, (each painting is brought before the judges rather than have them viewed as they are stacked around the hall), and so I will be present when my paintings are given points. I will keep telling myself, “Breathe deeply and slowly, this is not the end of the world, just learn to deal with it”.
On the home front, I am so excited, my daughter has just given birth to a little girl! I have a granddaughter! They live in Leeds, England and so will be flying there in 11 days time.
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