I am very excited to be able to tell you that the View Two Gallery in Liverpool will be hosting my first solo show, Urban Scrawl, in May 2016. Excited and exceedingly surprised.
I have been a part of Lisa Call's Masterclass and had the benefit of her coaching for almost two years and have been working towards becoming what, in my head, I considered a "Real Artist".
It's funny. When talking to anyone else I would immediately say that a Real Artist is one who made art. Anything. Scribbled cartoons on the back of the daily newspaper or eight foot oil paintings with the Queen as a sitter. Rough watercolours in a private sketchbook or sculptures on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square. Making art makes you an artist. Simple. If you pick up a pencil or a brush, a chisel or a lump of clay, I consider you an artist. The same way if you inflate your lungs on a regular basis I consider you a breather.
And yet, when I consider myself, I add the qualifier 'real'. It's not really the best word. What I mean is that I want to reach a certain standard. Of course, when I get there, I then want to reach the next standard. The journey is the point. The main satisfaction is in the learning and the improving as much as in the creative flow of losing three hours playing with paint. But that means that if one is not careful one discounts the progress one has already made in favour of always looking at the road ahead.
So, when I called into a gallery just to have a look I had no expectation that a conversation about my own art would ensue. I had no expectation that they would offer to place some of my work in the Christmas show. And I was stunned when, after I emailed images to them, they offered me my own show to run for over a month. I am extremely grateful to Ken, the owner of the View Two Gallery for his trust in me.
That said, now it has happened I can look back and see how I got here. Yes, some of it was just doing the work and learning some skills, but also, I have benefitted immensely over the years since I set out in this path from the experience of other artists.
Apart from formal coaching I have had the friendship and shared experiences of the class members who are also walking on amazing journeys. I have taken classes from great artist and teachers like Sandra Meech, Committed to Cloth and the art-life changing Working in a series class from Lisa. I have the benefit of the yahoo email group for the Studio Art Quilt Association on which I can ask any question and get an avalanche helpful answers. I have the practical support of the Etcetera group who boost my ego by complimenting my cake, critique my work and take time off work when I can't to hang it for me in our shows. I have, thanks to the Internet access to groups like Through our Hands with their wonderful publications and I am able to read the blogs of artists who are open about their processes. And of course, I learned from the experience with the Twelve by Twelve group that I could actually make art in the first place.
So, it's time to give back the best I can. One thing I have never seen is a step by step diary account of how an artists builds a show from nothing to a room full of art. I have never read one contemporaneous account that deals with the thought and design process, the practical decision making, the marketing, the emotions. So, I thought, if I can't read it, I should write it.
My hope is that such an account will entertain experienced artists, inform new artists working towards their own shows and intrigue non-artists who get a glimpse of an unfamiliar world. I hope it will inspire all types of reader to go forth and achieve their own individual dreams.
One consequence of the
foolhardy decision amazing opportunity to fill 100 feet of gallery wall with art in five months, is that I need to be very focused with my time. (Which is where my Punchtime app is pulling its full weight). I seem incapable of writing short blog posts and long ones are a delight to write but take time. So, whilst I will still be posting here from time to time, with more expansive accounts, the diary will mostly be over on my new Facebook Page Helen Conway Design in snippet form.
I hope you will come over there and join me on the journey. If you do and you find me sitting crying on the floor in panic, just know, I will recover pretty quickly if you make me a mug of my favourite tea and stick chocolate in one hand and a tube of paint in the other.