Best Five Things to do When Submitting to International Juried Art Exhibitions

"It's Not My Fault" by © Adair W. Heitmann

“It’s Not My Fault” by © Adair W. Heitmann

Last summer I submitted an original fine art monoprint to an international exhibition. The experience has kept me on a creative high for months, and I’ve learned a few things along the way. I’ll share them with you here.

1. Become a member of an arts organization larger than your geographical area.
For example, I’m a member of The Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Norwalk, CT. It’s the only cultural and educational center dedicated to the art of original printmaking from New York City to Boston. Because of its outreach CCP invited members to submit to an international print exhibition.

2. Have a variety of new work available at all times.
Exhibitions want recently completed artworks. Keep different sizes plus framed and unframed works on hand. You never know what the prospectus will require or how little time you may have before the deadline.

3. Stand out from the crowd with your submission.
Choose a piece that’s a little quirky or unusual. Take a chance with an international show. I did just that when I submitted my clay monoprint to the Pendle Print Fest in Lancashire, England. It was juried in the states then sent over. I felt like it had to pass muster twice since it was supported by the Arts Council England.

4. Don’t sweat over your selection — trust your instincts.
Frankly, I was nervous sending my work oversees. What of it got lost? Damaged? Once I let go of those fears I chose a piece I liked, one that fit the exhibition’s theme and prospectus. I remembered that if it sells I live without it anyway, I was happy with my decision.

5.  Stay connected to the exhibition using social media.
“Like” the gallery on Facebook, follow it on Twitter. Write engaging comments in the comment section, re-tweet their tweets. I did that with the Pendle Heritage Centre Gallery. It was fun to communicate online and I broadened my own professional relationships. Feeling a kinship to an exhibition across the pond made me a card-carrying member of a world-wide arts community.

For my global Creativity and Wellness blog followers, the exhibition from the U.S. will be at the Pendle Heritage Centre Gallery from September 6 – 28, 2014. Please go see it and let me know. Take a selfie if you wish and send it to me!

Creativity and wellness message for today: Create local, submit global, and expand your horizons, go from micro to macro.

Artistic Endeavors: The Dirty Work

IMG_20130506_074956We are used to seeing the end result of artistic pursuits: listening in a concert hall as the orchestra plays the finale; mesmerized by viewing a painting in a still, quiet museum; or watching the curtain drop at the end of a play. The other day, however, I found myself immersed in the polar opposite of the finished product. I was in the dirty work in the middle of creation.

At 6:00am I was standing on the cold cement floor of my dank basement, in my pajamas, doing the messy part of creativity. Since taking a Clay Matrix Printmaking workshop I’ve been so excited to begin using my newly discovered art technique. Part of the process is keeping the clay matrix I use as my printing plate, moist.

Gathering supplies for the last few months has kept me focused on making sure I had everything ready. I also made sure the clay matrix was damp at all times. My teacher taught us to spray water on a synthetic towel, keep the slab in a clean plastic garbage bag, and check it every two weeks.

I’ve mail-ordered supplies such as a pizza roller (used as a brayer when making the prints). Stencils were found either in nature or I spotted them in everyday kitchen and household goods stores. Utensils like spatulas and fly swatters will be used to create unusual textures. Where to order clay and pigments was next on my list. All these tasks have been clean ones, and every two weeks, just like my teacher taught me, I wet a towel draped over the clay. Over the last few months I looked repeatedly for a synthetic towel, not finding one, I thought a cotton towel would do. An old, red, frayed cotton one.

Not  having a dedicated art studio, my slab is sitting on top of a pile of cardboard boxes, next to my laundry baskets, in my unfinished basement. Watching the second-hand tick on my watch, knowing I still needed to walk up two flights of stairs, shower and then drive to work, I was determined to stay in the basement. Because the clay matrix has to be kept damp, I’d quickly opened the plastic bag that morning, after switching a load of laundry. To my surprise, I found black, spotty, growing mold. My art slab was in jeopardy because of an old, red, frayed cotton towel.

Using the top of my washing machine as a make-shift studio table, I scraped dark mold and mildew off the wooden matrix frame. My thumbnail became my steadiest tool. Gently flicking mold off the clay itself became a sort of meditation. I had to do it slowly or else I would gouge the clay. After my labor of love, my matrix salvaged, I was satisfied and determined to find a synthetic towel that would eliminate the molding problem. If I was able to create prints and use the matrix daily or weekly (in my dreams!) the mold would not have had time to grow.

However, I did return upstairs, from the underground studio, elated. I was happy because, before going to work, I claimed time for my artist self. I also knew I had to find that synthetic towel. Soon I would have a new monoprint to hang on my walls.

Creativity and wellness message for today: Like a pig in mud, wallow in the dirty work, the behind-the-scenes of creativity.