Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Strange Days

It's been a strange several days. Things started off a bit disappointing when I was, albeit not unexpectedly, not accepted on my first attempt into the FALC juried art show early last week. And then I sort of lost my artistic muse for a while and it seemed that everything I tried to paint just wasn't turning out like I hoped. Also the weather has been crazy which has prevented me from spending much time outside. But our local women's bicycle club had a mountain bike clinic planned for the weekend and the weather was looking fabulous, so I knew I had that to look forward to and the anticipation of it kept my spirits pretty much up. I'll admit, it had been several years since my last bike clinic - I've been to four in the past, I think - and not having been riding regularly at all for the past few years, I was more than a little nervous. Heck, I was scared! I'm new to the club so haven't met many of the members and had no idea where my skill and confidence level were in relation to the other ladies, nor did I know what the clinic was going to involve. I know in the past, I've generally been one of the more timid and hesitant riders with a fairly low level of self-confidence and that was when I was biking regularly. So, being much older now and having had so much time away from the trail, well it was a bit intimidating. Nevertheless, I was eager to see if any of the things I learned in prior clinics might come back during this one, and boost my confidence and courage some. Despite paying full attention and trying my best to learn all I could from the instructor, I unfortunately felt like I left this clinic feeling more discouraged and even less inspired to ride than I was before, with my fear and lack of confidence issues intact, if not even a little worsened somewhat. Oh well. At least I finally got to meet some of the other club members and they are absolutely awesome, so that was really nice. And previously, I did learn a lot from the mini-clinic the club held a couple of weeks ago with Pryde, the local bike shop manager and expert racer, and my husband Steve, also an expert racer, so hopefully those two guys will be offering some mini-clinics again in the near future and I can get my biking mojo back. I definitely need it, since right now I'm signed up for a 6-hour race in a couple of weeks. Yikes!

In the meantime, I'm still working on my painting and trying to just enjoy the process without worrying so much about the results, and am letting that continue to be my refuge. This coming weekend, I'll be dropping off a couple of paintings at Tipping Paint Gallery for their "Eggistentialism" exhibit, and I'm definitely looking forward to that. So maybe things are starting to look up again - fingers crossed!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Of Dogs, Bicycles and Heartbreak

I usually try to stay upbeat on my blog and put on a happy face no matter how low I may be feeling. But tonight I have to admit defeat. If you've ever been to the animal shelter, you've seen the dog. You know, the one who will unfortunately never get adopted. Not because it's aggressive or sick or anything like that. But because it has poor social skills. It isn't "mean", nor does it dislike other animals. In fact, it usually likes other dogs. Very much. But for whatever reason, it simply doesn't understand how to communicate with other dogs and tends to be inappropriate and never quite sure just how to "fit in". So it spends its life surrounded by its peers but still alone, lonely, isolated, rejected without truly understanding why. It apparently hasn't learned the rules of polite society and how to say what it doesn't mean and mean what it doesn't say, and certainly not how to keep its feelings and opinions to itself. And it gets misinterpreted, misunderstood, ignored at best and outcast at worst. Eventually it learns the best way to avoid the pain of potentially awkward social situations is to avoid them all together when at all possible.

I used to love mountain biking. In fact, it pretty much defined me and was my life. I still enjoy it, but after this weekend, the fire has suddenly and significantly faded. I fear I have become that dog, and am insecure and frightened at the prospect of social interactions, especially new ones. At this point, I can only cling desperately to Jacquie Phelan's kind words to me many years ago: “I hope nothing quashes your love of riding, pure and simple...Be aware of that glowing ember, let it glow.” But I fear the only way to possibly do that now is to go back to the isolated, lonely world of biking by myself alone, where I won't run the risk of negative social experiences which send me, tail tucked and whimpering, back to the far corners of the shelter in my mind.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Searching for the Silver Lining

"Dear Tammy, I am sorry to inform you..."

Those were the first words of the email notifying me that none of my three submissions to the Fine Arts League of Cary Annual Juried Exhibit were accepted into the show. I wish I could say I wasn't crushed reading them, that it wasn't a challenge to fight back the tears of rejection. I knew going in that my chances of getting into such a high profile exhibit as a raw beginner with not even a year's worth of experience under my belt were less than zero. That it was a giant risk and a huge leap of faith for me to even try to enter something of this magnitude so soon, with no training and no true real-world art experience. Especially considering only about 20% of the entries received would be accepted - with likely the vast majority of those coming from trained professional artists with years of experience. But even despite knowing all that, there was always that tiny sliver of hope from the perhaps misguided but wishful little cheerleader inside my own head that said "there's always a chance so go ahead and enter!" And, despite my unexpected but real all the same, bit of heartbreak at this present moment, I'm still glad I took the chance and put myself out there. I'm going to let myself be sad, at least for a while, but I'm not giving up. I'm going to continue painting. I'm going to continue to enter juried shows once in a while. And I'm going to continue to believe in myself.

I'm also going to look into non-juried exhibits, including one this month at Tipping Paint Gallery in Raleigh, being held in conjunction with the Tour d'Coop. The Tour is dedicated to educating the public about urban farming and raises funds for Urban Ministries of Wake County. As part of this year's event, Tipping Paint Gallery is holding an "Eggistentialism" exhibit "celebrating all things chicken". I plan to submit a total of three paintings - two for the exhibit itself as well as another for the raffle.
Eggistentialism - soft pastel submissions, © 2014 Tammy Kaufman - soft pastels on sanded paper
So while acknowledging and accepting my disappointment and allowing myself to feel sad about the rejection letter, I also am ready to get busy painting again and looking forward to hopefully better things yet to come.