I’ll Paint for someone Else

copyright Mia Laing 2013
I crashed into a heap on sunday…so exhausted I could barely lift each limb. After an hours walk with fur child and one real child, my muscles were aching, my joints sore, my head throbbed.  I walk daily.  This was not a normal reaction to exercise.  School holidays have finally started and I think my body just needed a day off…from everything.  Thinking included. By lunchtime I just couldn’t resist the call of a comfy bed and into it I crawled and stayed for 3 hours. I slept.  I read.  I lay in a blissful state of nothingness.

Recharging.  Boy, oh boy, it’s needed.

To be honest, part of this reaction, other than a busy school term as chief bottle washer and taxi driver to the kids,  has come from the emotional high’s and low’s of exhibition time…the Perth Royal Agricultural Show Exhibition is in full swing. As an introvert and being so new to this art gig,  I find the whole ‘putting myself out there’ thing exhausting.    No wins for me again this year.  I came so very, very close though.  Top ten.  Not bad seeing there were over 400 entries of which only 165 made the finalists. The curators kindly told me I had made the few considered for ribbons and prizes…and was unfortunately bumped out on the last cut.

So. So. Close.

Nature of the game.

One of my art class friends received the ‘Packers Prize’ for her delightful painting of a little aboriginal child…and she sold it on opening night!  I am totally thrilled for her to finally receive an accolade that speaks of the hours and hours put into learning this craft.  Its her time to shine.  Well done Alicia!

The overall winner was one of Western Australia’s leading artists…Andy Quilty. I’m quite chuffed that my work could even be considered to hang near his!

I read a story online last week that has helped with the ol’ head space that comes after the build up of excitement and apprehension of an exhibition opening.  I read it on ‘Mind Body Green’, which is an excellent blog for articles on mind and body health.  http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-8400/if-youve-been-rejected-read-this.html

‘Each day, ten-year-old Miranda put on the pink tutu that Aunt Amelia had lovingly created for her, and danced around the house. She was a beautiful and graceful dancer, and she was determined to play the role of Sleeping Beauty. 
On the day of the audition, Miranda set off with her mother. When they arrived at the studio, she took her place alongside the other girls. 
She would be the first dancer to perform for Monsieur LeBrun, the famous dance teacher from Paris. Miranda’s heart fluttered as she walked to the center of the stage. When she looked out into the audience, she was reassured by her mother who blew kisses.
Miranda waited for the music and then threw herself into the role of Sleeping Beauty. After barely a minute, a male voice shouted, “Enough. Next.”
The music stopped and Miranda stood frozen in place.
“But I haven’t finished dancing!” Miranda said.
“You’re wasting my time,” called out the voice. “Next.”
Miranda’s mother rushed to the stage and hugged Miranda. “We’ll go to Dairy Queen and treat ourselves.”
Miranda looked up and saw tears flowing down her mother’s cheeks. Something was wrong, terribly wrong. And then it dawned upon her. She wasn’t good enough. She ran toward the door.
Her mother followed and caught up to her. They didn’t go for ice cream. Instead, they went home. Miranda went straight to her room and pulled off the tutu. She changed into her pajamas and crawled into bed. For three days, she stayed in her room, refusing to go to school or join the family for meals.
When she finally came out of her room, she kicked a large box outside into the corridor. In it, she had neatly packed all her dance clothes, slippers and gear.
Her mother gasped, “Miranda, what have you done?”
Her father shook his head. “You can’t give up just because one rude guy didn’t like you.”
“I will never ever dance again!” Miranda said. “Never!” She threw herself into her school work and extra-curricular activities. She went on to win scholarships and pursued a career as an elementary school teacher. She married her high school sweetheart and had three lovely children, two boys and girl. 
While the boys enjoyed their sports, her daughter Emily dabbled in art and drama. One day, she went to Miranda and said, “I want to be a ballet dancer.”
Miranda’s heart stood still. Almost 30 years had passed, but the memory of that spring afternoon still haunted her. She tried to distract Emily with outings, but Emily was adamant that she wanted to be a ballet dancer. 
Miranda gave in and watched from a distance as her lovely daughter embraced the world of dance. One afternoon, Emily came home waving a poster. “I made the final cut! Mrs. Clarke said I could audition for the summer ballet in Toronto.”
On the afternoon of the audition, Miranda took a personal day and accompanied Emily to the studio. While watching Emily practice with the four other girls, her mind raced with negative thoughts. She jumped when she heard a familiar masculine voice.
“Is this seat taken?”
Miranda turned and came face to face with an older, grayer Monsieur LeBrun. She gasped.
“Are you all right, Madame?” Monsieur LeBrun asked.
Miranda took several deep breaths. “I don’t imagine you remember me. It’s been a while since I danced for you.”
Monsieur LeBrun shook his head. “I’m sorry but I don’t remember…”
“You didn’t let me finish dancing.”
“And you took it to heart.”
“Why wouldn’t I?” asked Miranda. “Dancing was my life!”
“If you quit so easily, then you weren’t a real dancer.”
“How could you even tell after barely 60 seconds?”
Emily appeared and sat next to her mother. “Good afternoon, Mr. Brown.”
“It’s Monsieur LeBrun,” Miranda whispered.
Monsieur LeBrun focused his attention on Emily. “What is your name, child?”
“Emily Davies.”
“What if I don’t like your dancing, Emily?” he asked. “What will you do then?”
Emily shrugged. “I’ll dance for someone else.” She turned and ran back to the stage.
Monsieur LeBrun nodded in approval. “Now there’s a ballet dancer.” 
Wowsers… slot in your own words…”Now there’s a ballet dancer painter, artist, writer, photographer, candlestick maker…”
I’m painting for someone else….Yep. ME.
I paint because I love it.  It fills me with joy.  Every part…except the inevitable rejection.
But I’m learning to let go of this.  It’s a giant leap of faith every single time you put a painting into the public arena.  In fact, it’s a giant leap of faith every time you put a stroke of paint on a new canvas!
Am I good enough?  Have I done enough?  Have I given it my touch, my colour, my paint strokes, my story?
And then all this becomes irrelevant as it is viewed through someone else’s eyes.  Art, after all is in the eye of the beholder.  Who knows what they are looking for?
I’m not taking any rejections to heart…there’s  a momentary pain of frustration, of just not quite getting to the finish line, then, thank goodness,  there is always another painting, another exhibition, another person to paint for.
Time to do this all…over… again.  There’s another exhibition in two weeks.  For this..

copyright 2013 Mia Laing
‘The Ripple Effect’
Oil on Canvas – 2013
…and I sold two paintings last week.

'Spring Blossom' Oil on Canvas - 2013 30x24
‘Spring Blossom’
Oil on Canvas – 2013
30×24 (SOLD)
'The Guardian' Oil on Canvas - 2013 30x24
‘The Guardian’
Oil on Canvas – 2013
30×24 (SOLD)

To the same lady who bought this…

copyright Mia Laing 2012
‘Vintage Roses’
30×40 ‘ Framed
I officially have a collector!  (Even if she is a friend!  That still counts, I think?)
With paint under my finger nails and paint on my clothes… It’s back to the easel for me.
Mia x

20 thoughts on “I’ll Paint for someone Else

  1. Gorgeous words Mia, and so true. Do things for the joy and satisfaction you get out of it.
    If someone else also enjoys it, fantastic, a bonus and the joy is shared.

  2. Your work is so good that there will always be someone who enjoys it.

    1. Thanks so much Viv…it’s the process I love and I just need to remember to always focus on that…nothing else should matter. Learning curve to having a very thick hide!

      1. Yes, its one thing to do something for our own joy but another to accept criticism from others. Sharing one’s work with others, you open yourself up for this criticism, but hopefully also accepting the joy that your work gives to others.
        I think most people have difficulty accepting criticism and compliments as well. We have to develop a thick skin and the ability to accept compliment and praise.
        You are doing a great job.

      2. Thank you Viv…true words. The person I find the hardest to hear criticism from is Cal…and though he doesn’t paint, often he’s right. Lesson in learning to listen….yikes!

  3. You are an amazing artist. Your paintings are beautiful. Don’t be discouraged. It’s hard, but you must follow your heart. Really, what’s the alternative 🙂

    1. Thank you so much Lorri…it’s an amazing adventure I’m on, enjoying most of it! Nice to have so many cheering me on.

  4. Hi Mia –
    Being a gallery owner in the US for so many years – I really enjoyed seeing your work for the first time. Keep it up – and I’ll follow along.

    1. Thank you so very, very much nancegalleries…it is wonderful to have a gallery owner saying these words! So glad you found your way here and I hope you enjoy the ongoing posts.

  5. I love this post! Putting a piece of art out there in the world is so personal, and having it judged is hard not to take personally. But judging anything in the Arts is so subjective and in the eye of the beholder, and that really p!sses me off at times. That’s why I stuck with the Maths and Sciences after school — you’re either right or you’re wrong, it’s objective, no arguments.

    Keep going and don’t lose heart. My writing group commented on your paintings the other night — they’d visited your website and loved what they saw. A lot of people do. Personally, I hate competitions anyway …

    1. Oh Louise…I have fought back a crazed feeling so many times viewing some winning artwork! Sometimes, I just do not understand what the judges saw in it but….one day! You showing my work at writing group fills me with dread…punctuation, too many exclamation marks!!! And a super abundant use of full stops…oh my!!!!!!! Whatever you do, do not let them read….LOL!!

  6. What a great story and even though you didn’t end up making the final cut, I still say a congratulations is in order for making it so close! I’m glad you’re able to keep your perspective on things. It’s so hard not to take these rejections (even the kind ones!) to heart but like you said, it’s all in the eye of the beholder and we can always perform (paint, write, etc.) for someone else.

    1. Thanks Lillian…good news is…I sold it! Someone beholded it!!!! How is London, intrepid traveller?

      1. Yeah! And that’s really what counts in the end, isn’t it? London is fantastic, if a bit too cold and smoky (from cigarettes) for my taste. But thanks for asking! We start classes officially next week so maybe then I won’t be so optimistic then. 😉

      2. I read your new blog…exciting times for you. I think you are very brave! I lived in London, as a nanny, age 22, for nearly a year. Loved it, but yes very cold and gray and give retted everywhere , probably even more so all those years ago.

  7. Dear Mia,
    Thank you for such an inspiring post! I am just working up the courage to start exhibiting my work, and your story has really helped boost my confidence. Louise is so right – putting your art out there feels a bit like standing in a shop window with no clothes on. It’s hard…

    Your work is lovely, by the way – Spring Blossom is my particular favourite 🙂


    1. Thank you Lauren…don’t give up. Those early days, when I was just deciding to put my work out into the public arena where definitely the hardest. I had close friends who didn’t even know I could paint, that’s how little I had shown people. But, It’s the best thing I have done, just to start an FB page and this blog. I can now get some encouragement from people other than my family. Go for it! BTW, I couldn’t open your page? Mia

  8. Oops… now you know why I am into art and not IT!
    Thanks for the encouragement – it is always nice to have some support! Lauren

  9. Reblogged this on Perth Words… exploring possibilities. and commented:
    Beautiful art and wise words…

    1. Thank you so much Frances. So many amazing creatives…and so many of us that struggle with doubts about what we are doing. So lovely to think my words, written to help me and my struggles, could help others. Thanks for sharing.

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