Last weekend I went to my first art show as a vendor. For set up, I got to follow the sign on the front door of the the old church venue saying,
“Artists enter by side door.”
I’ve been an artist since I was 10 years old, but this was the first time I’ve gone in the special door. It’s the first time I’ve put my visual art out there for sale.
“What if I don’t sell anything?” whispered the voice of self-doubt. “It will be so embarrassing!”
“Shut up! That’s no way to talk!” responded my critical parent voice.
“Be positive! What if you sell a lot of your work?” said the nurturing parent. “I’m proud of you for doing this, no matter what!”
“Okay, as long as something sells,” said self-doubt.
I put in a lot of time creating art, matting prints, and painting angels and mermaids on rocks and shells to be included with each purchase. I ended up selling a few pieces which covered the $75 for the space, plus art supplies. And I have plenty of leftovers for the next show or to go in a gallery!
The “Tree Lady” and the healing angels sold. But not the larger pieces.
And the original of “Delivery,” a practice piece on scrap wood, sold.
I learned a lot from this first art show, like art is subjective. Some of the prints I thought for sure would sell didn’t. Small pieces of original art sold best. People admired the three larger paintings, but didn’t want to spend that kind of money, which I can understand. So for next time, I’m making a few prints of the larger pieces.
Seeing other artists’ work provided a feast of delight and inspiration.
But the best part of all was not about what I sold.
The best part was about what I gave away.
I’d brought with me paper and plastic bags for the art I’d sell. One bag came from my mom’s bedroom, the bedroom my father hasn’t changed in the several years since she died. I go in there now and then to look for things I can convince Dad to donate or get rid of. The bag from Mom’s room was a lavender paper bag with handles. While sitting at the art show, I rummaged through the tissue paper in the lavender bag. At the bottom, I found a little, pink, crocheted purse. Or so I thought it was a purse.
(It actually turned out to be a holder for those personal sized Kleenex packets.)
I put the little pink purse in the basket I’d brought the painted rocks in, and put it on the table thinking someone might like it.
A couple hours later, a little girl, who looked to be about 5 or 6, came by with her parents. She stopped to look at the painted shells, lingering on each one. Then she came to the little pink purse in the basket.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“I think it’s a little purse,” I said. I could tell she liked it by the way she admired it and worked to figure out the button clasp.
“That’s for you,” I said. “My mother wants you to have it.”
My words came out spontaneously.
The little girl smiled and thanked me politely as did her mother. They figured out it was a Kleenex purse, and said she always had trouble finding tissue at school, so it would come in handy.
The brief interaction with the little girl and my mother’s pink Kleenex purse made my heart sing. It was as if my mother had been there all the time, watching quietly, waiting for the chance to be part of my first art show.