Friday, July 28, 2017

The "Experts" Are Anything But - Please Stop Listening To Them

Written by me in 2014.  I have since had 5 solo, month-long art shows at The Globe + various other venues.  Please please please read this...and read it again (and again) until its message sinks in, hits home, kicks you in your butt, etc.

Yesterday my husband and I installed my final art show/sale of 2014 at The Globe, an historic former theater that is now a very hip and very popular restaurant/bar/art gallery located in Berlin, Maryland.

It's a huge show; 71 pieces of my artwork ranging in size from 24x36 (6 of this size!) down to little tiny 4x4 squares that are part of a 9-pc set of varying sizes ($100 for the set - a bargain!) spread throughout the entire two-level building.

This is my second show/sale there.  I also headlined there last year at this time.  That first show/sale was so successful that they invited me back this year, again at the busiest time of the year when galleries exhibit those who best serve the shopping season.

How successful was last year's show, you ask?  Let's put it this way: I was supposed to be in there from Thanksgiving until New Year's.  I wound up being in there until March.  The longest running show they've ever had.

Am I tooting my own horn?
You bet I am - but not for the reasons you might think.

Well, not totally for the reason you might think.  ;-)

am tooting my own horn because I want to tell you - in one word - how all of this came about:  postcard.

Yep, one single postcard has given me two amazing opportunities to headline my own solo show at the most prominent art space in a town that was voted 2014's Coolest Small Town In The US by Budget Travel magazine.

All I did was send postcards out to places I thought my art would fit into.  On the back I had printed a message that said something about being available for shows and sales and retail opportunities.  I wrote a couple of lines that just said that I'd love for them to check my work out. That's it.

Ah, sweet naïvete.

You see, the "experts" will tell you to not ever make the very amateur mistake of sending out postcards to galleries and shops.  They will scoff at you for even considering doing this.  No self-respecting artist who wants to be taken seriously would ever do this because all it will lead to is having your postcard tossed directly into the trash without anyone ever so much as glancing at it is what the self-proclaimed art business gurus will tell you.

Well, maybe they're right, if you are the type of high-fallutin' artist who straight out of the gate thinks your art should be featured in a gallery on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan where the cheapest piece sells for thousands of dollars.  Then, no, a postcard probably won't work for you.

But if you're a humble artist who doesn't say "no, it sucks" when people tell you that your artwork is really good or great (I hate people who do this.  Why are you even creating art then?!  It's like people who are a size two but complain about being fat.  Stop, please.) and you should sell it...and if you are a humble artist who needs a break, just one simple break...and if you want to keep your prices reasonable so the average person can actually afford to buy some art...and if you are not a wuss who isn't afraid to just put yourself out there, to take a chance, to throw the dice and see where they land...than YES, those "experts" and "gurus" are wrong.

I mean, come on...by now you should know that if there were some set of rules to follow that would guarantee success, everybody would be following them and riding off into the sunset, right?

Those rules don't exist.
The rule is that there are no rules.

Let me say that again:  THERE ARE NO RULES.

Oh, and while you're thinking about all of this, I beg you to reconsider what your definition of success is if it has anything at all to do with money.  Yes, I am serious.  Very serious.

I can say with complete confidence and truth that I am a wildly successful artist.
My artwork makes people happy and I know this because on almost a daily basis they make it a point to reach out and tell me. 

Something I do brings people happiness.
Tell me what defines success more than that.
There's not a price you can put on that.  And if I make some money along the way, that's just bonus.
I am not saying I don't want to make money - that would be ridiculous.  With my artwork I make money and I also make people happy and I'm telling you that the latter is what makes my soul sing.

It's a motivation thing and in all likelihood what motivates me (with my art and in life) is way left of center, which is usually how it goes with me.

I'll probably never wind up in a gallery on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan sipping wine and nibbling on cheese with the haut monde but that's not where I belong anyway.  Try and know where you belong; that's kind of important.

I'm good where I'm at right now:  meeting people, having fun, and making pretty pictures that make people happy.

And sending out postcards.

 photo sharon coffee cup sig3_zpsa0eabycr.png

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Ooh Ooh That (Fake) Smell

Do you know the smell when something is burned beyond recognition on a grill? Like when you're heating up the grill and the old funk on the grates is burning or when you burned the hell out of a frying pan? That is the smell that is stuck in my head right now.

Mind you, I am not really smelling this as I do not have the ability to smell anything.

It's called phantosmia and it's part of being anosmic (loss of smell).

Phantosmia is an an olfactory hallucination, it's smelling an odor that is not actually there.
Most of the time the "smells" associated with phantosmia are not pleasant.
And although the smell is not real, it might as well be because I am nauseous from "smelling" this for the past few hours.
My eyes are even tearing from it.
There's nothing I can do to alleviate it; I can only wait it out.

#Anosmia #LossOfSmell #AnosmiaStinks


Tuesday, July 18, 2017

That "Poor Girl" Thing

One of my endeavors operates under the name "Poor Girl".  You might see that name if you visit the my website, for example.  I wanted to explain a little bit about where that name came from.

I'll start with misfortune.

Whenever something bad happens to a person, someone inevitably will say or think or insinuate "that poor girl" (or woman/girl/child/man/boy/person/etc)".

As someone who has had more than her fair share of misfortune (which you will likely eventually hear about as this blog journal progresses 😏), that phrase has been used about me more times than I'd like to admit.  It has always made me very uncomfortable as pity is not something I aspire to attain; also, I come from a long line of victims and since I am the black sheep of the family, am vehemently opposed to being a victim of anything or anyone.

You see, it seems to me that every single bad thing that's ever happened to me has taught me a valuable lesson that I never would have learned if I hadn't gone through the bad thing.

Of course, I am not saying that I am walking around hoping for bad things - God forbid - just so I can learn and grow and evolve.  But bad things are inevitable and if our eyes are open and we're paying attention to our own lives, it is from those things that we learn not only our most valuable lessons, but through them we experience endurance, fortitude, integrity, insight, and the list goes on and on. Maybe the bad thing wouldn't be as bad if we remembered to look for the lesson(s).

I used to a be the senior editor of many world famous reference books and publications.  Then I got sick and the stress and demands of that position were making me worse so I had to give up my career.
I remember sitting home a week or two after my last day at the publishing house and all of a sudden the thought "well, who am I now?" popped into my head.  It was a pure "poor girl, had to give up her high-paying, status-filled career" moment.  I panicked.  I thought that I had lost my identity because my identity had become so wrapped up as Sharon, Senior Editor.  Thankfully, I forced myself  to get over it - and get over myself - and realize that my life is not my job/job title.  I can't tell you how many amazing experiences and endeavors I have since had and would have missed out on if I had stayed stuck in an office dealing with corporate bureaucracy and insane deadlines as Sharon, Senior Editor.

I would not be who I am if not for all the times I was a "poor girl".

I'll finish with financial.

In one of the Real Housewives shows, someone says "I was poor, then I was rich, then I was poor again.  Rich is definitely better."  I couldn't agree more...just maybe for a little bit of different reasons.

When I was very little we were real deal poor.  My divorced mother was a waitress in NJ diners.  She received $25 a month from my father for child support and I don't think that was paid regularly. Needless to say, we were on welfare.  She shopped at Goodwill.  Sometimes we ate lumpy farina or baloney with onions or something called Shit On A Shingle for dinner (ground beef cooked in flour/milk gravy served over white bread).  We weren't alone in being poor and I don't ever remember lamenting over our poor-ness.  Seemingly everyone in our Elizabeth, NJ neighborhood was in the same or similar boat.

Around the time I was 5 or 6, my mother met my future stepfather and - POOF!- suddenly we weren't poor anymore.  Actually we were pretty well-off, definitely wealthy, maybe even rich.  My step-father was a successful Italian mason contractor and we didn't want for anything.  I was plucked out of school every winter as we snowbirded our way to Miami Beach for a few months.  As luck would have it, I won the Stepfather Lottery and was the apple of his eye almost immediately.  I was his shadow, where he went I went, and man did he love to spoil me.

Logically, I should have grown up and continued with that kind of life but it didn't work out that way. I chose what I naïvely thought was love over logic and that left me with a serious cash flow problem many, many (many) times.  Like, rob-Peter-to-pay-Paul-so-that-Paul-doesn't-turn-off-the-electricity kind of problems. (I was always too proud to ask my parents for bailouts.)  I married way too young the first time which was an unhappy and short-lived marriage (but I did get an amazing daughter from the union) and not too long after that one ended, I married again, disastrously.  Husband #2 was bipolar with a strong aversion to medication and working for a living.  This can be referred to as my Creative Ways To Pay Bills Era.  In other words, I was definitely not well-off (literally and figuratively).  One time I sent my well-loved winter coat to the dry cleaner...and never picked it up because I could not afford the $10 bill.  That's a true story.
I have not ever been the type to make my problems anyone else's plus I was appalled that I found myself in this situation so I sucked it up and dealt with it to the best of my ability.  Mind you, I was still gainfully employed in publishing during this era but it was a 3-person household and I was the only one of those persons who had steady income.
I paid our not cheap rent on time every single month since having a roof over my daughter's head was my main priority.  After that, as I said, I robbed from Peter to pay Paul to keep the lights on and the heat running.
I made breakfast for dinner. Or soup for dinner.
I bought any new clothes we needed at Walmart.
I walked a lot.
I rode my bike.
I checked hundreds of books out of the library.
I painted and drew.
I wrote.

At some point, I realized that being poor, so to speak, didn't suck.
In fact, I was having a pretty good time being broke.  My daughter and I (didn't care much what Psycho was doing or not doing...especially since he was mostly just sitting on the couch for months or maybe even years at a time.) might not have been dining out or taking vacations or wearing high end anything but you know what?  We were having big fun anyway.  We weren't feeling sorry for ourselves, that is for sure. My daughter had much of what the other kids had except for the fancy clothes and vacations but I kind of think we both had so much more.
I still think it was during this time that we had our best quality time, together and individually.

We were money poor but life rich.

I certainly am not saying that being broke is better than not being broke because that's obviously untrue.
I'm saying that the times that good fortune was not shining down upon me are the times that I learned the most valuable lessons and grew from them.



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