From The Sketch Book

November 7, 2014

Making a new friend

Filed under: Uncategorized — scottnelson @ 4:08 pm

 Sutton Barn 3 SMALL

You never know where artistic inspiration will come from and if it hits, how long will it last.

Yet when it does —-HANG ON.  You’re in for one wild ride!

Scott Nelson
The origins of this post start back in 1986. While in art school my professor Alexander Gazonas was recognized as one of the top watercolor painters in central MA. I’ve posted about his influence on me artistically, as a man and as a teacher in the past so I won’t bore you with the details. Just understand that he is truly the reason I’m an artist today.
Alex was an active member in the prestigious Rockport Art Association for many years. Since his passing in 2007 I’ve toyed with the idea of applying to the same association in an effort to honor Alex’s legacy. In 2013 I finally felt ready and submitted the required five paintings (I chose the watercolor division) to be judged during their November new member selection process. A few days later I was called and told I had not been selected BUT I should apply again because I only missed becoming a member by one vote. GREAT! In 2014 I applied once again thinking that membership might be a done deal. This time I was rejected and told there was no feedback at all. Simply a voice on the phone saying, “Sorry, you didn’t make the cut. I got nothing else for ya. Bye.” CLICK.  Ouch! So either I’ve gotten worse over time or the 2013 positive comments were nothing more than an awkward encouragement by someone who didn’t want to tell me I stunk.
My studio is roughly a two and half hour ride from Rockport MA. A post rejection five hour plus plus drive in order to retrieve my rejected paintings was not a journey I was looking forward to. To top it off I planned on doing a little plein air painting in the scenic Rockport coastal community to lift my spirits but it started raining heavily during the drive there and all but spoiled the opportunity to sit outside. Nothing was going right and I was pretty bummed out. Upon arriving at the association I was about ahalf hour early so I prepared to sit in my car and sulk.  And that’s when inspiration walked past in the form of artist Herb Randle. Herb is a well known landscape and portrait artist from Waltham, MA and had applied to the association like I had. He walked up, shook the handle to the Gallery and when he found it was still locked walked back towards his car. Now I like to talk so I stuck my head out the window and asked if he had applied like I had. He said he had but was rejected. Third time in fact. He wasn’t happy either but I could tell from the look in his eye that this artist still had some fight in his belly. That he’d keep at it until he either made it in or the association was no longer. So a new friendship was quickly made on the sidewalk in front of Rockport Art Association based upon the fact that we had both applied and with little fanfare told me weren’t good enough. Amazing how a simple conversation can lift your spirits and put you back on track mentally. I’ve since spoken to Herb a few times by email and watched his awesome studio visit here.   . Please check out his great work and easy going personality. I hope we can stay friends for a long time.
What did I learn from all this? In the end I can take the rejection as motivation to improve and reapply knowing that there is little chance that I’ll get in 2015, 2016 and beyond. Is that what Alex would want me to do? OR do I take this experience as a nice introduction to a new artist friend and mentor in the form of Herb Randle? Simply be happy with the inspiration he has already given me during a gloomy day when nothing was going right. And if that leads to reapplying next year, so be it. No worrying about the application process. Just make art because I love it! Not because it had to be to a certain association standard. I believe Alex is still looking down and teaching me lessons on how to better myself artistically and be a good person. Thanks Alex and thank you Herb.


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