Didn’t Win Squat, But It’s Not a Failure

Didn’t Win Squat, But It’s Not a Failure

I entered my first art contest this weekend and by the title, you can tell I didn’t even place. Why don’t I consider it a failure? For the first time, I put my art out in public. Not just on social media, but lined up with other art created by some fantastic artists that were now my competitors. As I walked down the line of art, it helped my confidence quite a bit. My stuff wasn’t the best and it certainly wasn’t trash compared to the other art. I felt like I fit in. I had the confidence to think I had a chance when they started announcing the winners. 

The contest was held at a monthly art fair in a town about an hour north of us. The majority of the participants in the contest were vendors at the fair. Out of about 25 entries, there were just three of us that were just there for the contest. So it was no surprise that all the winners were friends and knew each other. 

This is not the first time I have entered a public creative contest where my work was displayed to a bunch of strangers. 

Soon after graduating high school, a friend and I traveled to Yosemite. Early on our first morning, we drove up to Glacier Point to hike the trail down to The Valley. I wasn’t completely crazy back then. 😂 When we reached the top, there were a couple of hang gliders up there preparing to leap off the edge and hang glide to The Valley floor. As they took off, I started snapping pictures. One of the images was amazing. The glider was out in front of me and the edge of the glider and rider perfectly framed Half Dome in the distance. It was stunning!

A few months later, a local mall had a photography contest. I was excited to enter my hang glider. I don’t remember being nervous or anxious at all. Maybe, I was just too young? But, I did realize back then that I got lucky with that shot. So many things came together. There was no plan to get the perfect shot. It just happened. 

The result? I had won first place in my first photo contest. I bet those old career photographers that entered would have been pissed if they knew this 18-year-old punk had beat them out with the luck of the right place, right time. 🤣🤣 A year or two later, I did get second place in another photo contest at the hospital my sister was volunteering. That was a planned shot of Half Dome. 

So, this wasn’t my first rodeo. Why was it so much more difficult this time? Why did I want to throw up when I walked in with my art?

Age? I now know how cruel people can be. 

I don’t think so. 

I think it’s the work. With those photos, especially that first one, it was less than a second of work and little to no plan. I ended up with a prize-winning work of art. 

With the art I now create, I start with a blank page and spend hours planning and creating each piece. This work has more of my “heart” in it. 

More of me. 

There is meaning behind all of my artwork. 

That turtle on the table in the photo above is a collaboration with my three-year-old granddaughter. (She painted the background). 

She means the world to me. 

So does my art. 

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