When an auction is going badly—as it did on Saturday—my sympathies go to the organizers. For many of these organizations, the event represents the culmination of months of work, and the proceeds represent a big chunk of their budget.
Yes, we artists can grumble about losing three days from our schedules, but unless nobody shows up, the time is never lost. I meet people who are interested in and enlivened by art. I see old friends; I make new ones. Still, the saddest words to a plein air artist are, “pass on lot number 17.”
I missed most of the carnage because the buyer of my own painting wanted to meet me. Turns out that her parents live in Waldoboro. She thought perhaps she might make it up to “Paint the Town” on August 1 this year. (That auction benefits the Waldoboro Public Library, the Medomak River Land Trust, the Lions Club and Medomak Arts Project.) We spent a happy half hour chattering about places we love in mid-coast Maine.
The next morning I awoke with a headache from too many days in the hot sun. There was an optional-participation tent sale. Although the prospects seemed dismal, I had said I would show up.
Still, the hour-long drive gave me a purchase on my equanimity. I was reminded of those beautiful lines from Isaiah 61, a promise to bestow “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.”
It was a brand-new day indeed! Four of the artists set up to paint associate curator Valerie Balint’s portrait, with much merriment. The crowd was small but keenly interested in art. I sold three more paintings.
As I was leaving, Janet Howard-Fatta kindly helped me hoist my painting box to my car. “It’s like painting,” she ruminated. “You just gotta show up.” And she’s right; success truly is in the numbers. Stand in front of your easel day after day and eventually magical things happen. Keep flogging your work in the public square, and you’ll catch that momentary whisper in the wind that precedes successful sales.
Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “If a man can write a better book, preach a better sermon or make a better mouse trap than his neighbors, though he builds his house in the woods, the world will make a beaten path to his door.”
Let me know if you’re interested in painting with me on the Schoodic Peninsula in beautiful Acadia National Park in August 2015. Click here for more information on my Maine workshops! Download a brochure here.