Happily, I was recently notified that I was one of 12 award recipients of a Strauss Fellowship, a new individual artist grant program of the Arts Council of Fairfax County. According to the Arts Council's Web site (www.artsfairfax.org): "Strauss Fellowships support and encourage Fairfax County’s finest creative artists in all disciplines and recognize professional working artists’ achievements and their demonstrated history of accomplishments; they promote artists’ continued pursuit of their creative work." Thank you, Arts Council.
This is my first grant award and it marks another step in career achievement for me as an artist. Being a successful artist (the only kind of artist I care to be) requires constant work in honing one's artistic talents and building one's career. I work on both -- all the time -- and that's what this grant is designed to recognize. I found just going through the grant application process to be a great help. While the grant is not project or needs based, applicants had to address how they would use the funds and how it would help them as an artist. So what would I do with the money? What expenditure would make the greatest difference to me right now? After a ton of introspection, I figured out the answer.
I will apply for other grants and special programs for artists. My artwork enriches many lives -- something I've been told over and over and know in my soul -- and I will use any opportunity offered to make myself a better artist and reach more people. Going through the grant application process opened my eyes to new ways I can make that happen.
Goals and Achievements
- Receiving a Strauss Fellowship was one step on the ladder of career success. So what other goals have I set and achieved? Lots.
- Selling Work (I have achieved phenomenal success and it just keeps building. My collectors are knowledgeable, often artists themselves. Sales have come from my participation in regional events and shows, word of mouth, studio openings, and press coverage. I plan on approaching galleries in the coming months to gain representation and new audiences for my work.)
- Getting Accepted into Juried Shows (Regional, National -- My work is regularly accepted by a variety of different jurors. )
- Gaining Press Recognition (cover of elan Magazine, Washington Post's Top Picks in Sunday Source section, article in Alexandria Gazette Packet, Virginia Living Magazine's Around the State listing, blogs, Great Falls Connection, McLean Connection,...lots of glowing reviews; wonderful, well-appreciated coverage.)
- Receiving Awards (two times finalist in Artist's Magazine's Annual Art Competition, finalist in national online art competition multiple times, Best of Show at the Art League, Honorable Mention at the Art League)
- Solo Shows (2008: "Place Settings." Art League Solo Gallery -- one of only 10 artists awarded a solo show by the Art League out of its 1000+ members; 2005: "Feast for the Eyes," Great Falls Library)
- Giving Demos (public painting demos as part of solo shows, to arts groups including Great Falls Studios and the Vienna Arts Society. Photo courtesy of Jim Miller. I'm painting Erica Fortwengler in the Art League Solo Gallery during my "Place Settings" show.)
- Giving Talks (presented to Great Falls Newcomers Club to raise awareness of arts movement in Great Falls)
- Teaching (I just started. See my Portrait Painting class post. I currently have ten students -- just right for now, in my opinion)
- Taking an Active Role in the Local Arts Scene (I'm a board member of Great Falls Studios, a group of 75 artists and co-chair of the Shows & Exhibits Committee -- a big job that I feel I've held for a million years. Well, not quite. I'm a very active member of the Art League -- as an exhibitor, student, monitor for classes, solo exhibitor, supporter. I'll help out and encourage artists, arts organizations and art lovers wherever I encounter them.)
The point is that I want my work to be seen, appreciated and collected and that can't happen unless I nurture a healthy career. I do that through planning, goal setting, pushing myself constantly to reach new heights, networking, and hard work. I'm paying the same diligent attention to constantly improving my artwork -- so it always deserves the accolades and recognition. Being a successful artist requires lots of hard work and energy, plenty of support from enthusiastic patrons, and a willingness to put your work out there for review. So far, so good.