I do not have traditional artist credentials, so I am always on the lookout for my own milestones. I've been creating art seriously for nine years, but doing so with the typical demands of children and family. So my latest milestone crept up on me.
I just hung a show at the IVY Tech John Waldron Arts Center's main gallery. A total of 28 pieces grace the walls. As I was arranging the work, I could hear the painting class across the hallway. I remembered that I too started there, with a watercolor class in the fall of 2002. I would drop off my son at preschool, rush over and learn to paint some very lumpy oranges, and then rush back for pick-up, lunch and naps. If you had told me then that I would have a show in the gallery across the hall, I would not have believed you. I get misty just thinking about it.
I regularly read Alyson B. Stanfield's Art Marketing Newsletter. In a recent edition, she asks who are the people who have nurtured and supported you in your journey as an artist. So I started to think, and came up with a list (admittedly incomplete and not in any particular order.)
1) My husband who supports and encourages me every time I threaten to go get a job, and who built my etching press. My children who now all know how to set-up an art tent.
2) My mom, who was my first collector, and who has now filled her home with my work. Other family who generously give me gifts of money so I can maintain my paper habit.
3) Professor Ed Bernstein and (then) grad student Michelle Rozic from Indiana University for starting me off on my journey as a relief printmaker.
4) Professor Karen Kunc, whose workshop on reduction relief printmaking inspired me on a new path.
5) Friends -- who are my collectors, attenders of openings, booth sitters at fairs, and sympathetic listeners. People who repost my announcements and "like" me on Facebook.
6) Baren Forum -- an on-line group of printmakers who give great advice and support. This print was my first in one of their exchanges:
Elizabeth Busey, Bird Islands Await. Multiple Woodblock Print, 2008.
7) The first person I did not know who purchased my work. We've never met, but thank you all the same.
8) The Venue gallery who gave me my first show in June 2010. Seeing your work on a wall (other than your living room) is a tremendous gift.
9) Other artists, whether in-person or on-line, who generously share their advice, war stories, and encouragement.
10) The stores, on-line vendors and delivery folks who answer all of my strange questions, and get the sometimes cumbersome materials of my craft to me safely.
I could go on and on... Milestones are such a great way to look back and see where you've been, and who has helped you along the way. I'm not a smoker, but the 1968 Virginia Slims ad still echoes in my ears: "You've come a long way, baby."