A Metamorphosis and Subsequent Whirlwind of Events

I’ll just tell the story the way it happened.


About three years ago I painted this image, Arbor, in acrylics. It was a large painting, 40″ x 30″.

Arbor 40 x 30 11-161

Well, I took it around to some shows, but it was hard to fit it into the car, and I had another one I liked better, the same size, and it got included if I had room, rather than Arbor. I will mention that I did use a detail of it for one of my books:

Vines Overpower Trellis and Run Book Cover 2018001

Nonetheless, I never felt Arbor had quite finished being whatever it wanted to be, but – lots of other things were more interesting for me to be doing, so I did them. Arbor waited in the basement in a box.

August 2019 rolled around and with it the Lansdale Festival of the Arts. I have participated in this show for decades and in almost all of my mediums – fabric, collage, mixed media, and now acrylics. I was packing things to go to the show on Friday, August 23, and I decided to take Arbor along. I am planning to do only limited shows with my paintings in the future and I’ve sold down my inventory. There was room for Arbor to attend this show.

As I brought it up from the basement the idea struck me to touch it up a little. Just a little. I could fix a couple of areas that have been bothering me, I thought. I worked on it the rest of the afternoon. In a devil-may-care type of mood not very typical of me, I decided to take the new Arbor to the show in the exact shape that it was now in.

So, on Saturday, August 24, we set out for the show. Let me set the scene for you – it’s held in a lovely park, and the day was pleasantly cool and sunny. Here you see the show set up but before it opened, and a shot of my booth, and then the show with its attendees.

By now you may be saying, “What about Arbor?” Let’s enter the booth and see.

Lansdale 2019 #19

You still don’t see it? Oh, I guess I forgot to say – it’s now called Queen of the Birds, and it looks like this:

Queen of the Birds 40 x 30 8-198

And here are a couple of detail shots:

Yes, I did quite a bit to this painting, didn’t I? I know, and I think the same thing – what had gotten into me? No real answer other than, well, Queen of the Birds is where we are now.

At this show, prizes are given – I was competing in the Oils and Acrylics category. Each artist selects two pieces for the judge to review. I figured, why not? Queen of the Birds is my biggest piece and it’s extra brand new. And so, partly in tribute to Arbor, who hardly ever got to go to a show, I chose Queen of the Birds as one of my two candidates.

The show got under way. The judge stopped by and looked over my display, made notes on a clipboard, and after a short chat with me, she left my booth. I appreciated it that she spoke with me; many judges won’t approach or sometimes even acknowledge the artist while reviewing work.

In the afternoon, the awards were handed out.

Lansdale 2019 #65

Yes, that is Queen of the Birds with a 3rd place ribbon in its category. Fantastic!

Then I sold the painting. Yes. I did.

Well, that’s the end of this story. I’ve been doing art and art shows for a long time but nothing like this has ever happened to me, for sure. I was thrilled. Grateful. Very surprised. Laughing. Happy. And I’ll remember this experience, you bet!

24 thoughts on “A Metamorphosis and Subsequent Whirlwind of Events

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      A sequence of events that will never happen again of course, but a lot of fun. Goes to show you, a painting is never finished until somehow it’s taken out of your hands!

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I am sure that if I had not worked down so much of my array of paintings I would never have considered taking this painting along. I’m kind of marveling at how things seemed to take hold of themselves and I was just kind of going along. I often doubt my work even after all these years and this really made me feel good.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. Yes, it was not so much the look of the Arbor that bothered me but that it did not express anything to me or from me, I felt. I never could shake the feeling I had done it by rote. The new one, well, left to myself I’d probably work on it more and maybe ruin it or maybe it would be better, but now it is out of my hands. I felt the hand of serendipity in this whole event, that is why I wanted to post this, because so many times I second guess myself as do we all, I guess, but this time – I wasn’t allowed to, just have faith and go along with it, and I feel as if I were given reassurance in this whole thing by I don’t know who, but I am grateful for the feeling.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. It’s funny how things work out. I sold a lot of small things (that is typical) and who knows, I often get calls later on for something a person saw in a show. But I don’t worry much about sales anymore at this stage of the game – I try to enjoy the show, talking to people, and so on – which I was always too consumed with “business” to do much in the past. Another benefit of being a veteran and getting older and all of that – taking things a little easier.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      More and more I find that just letting go leads me in a direction I like and I try to just ride along – I no longer want to be so rules oriented (even if I made the rules). In the past I would have never taken a one day of work painting to a show. Well, times change!

  1. agnesashe

    It all looks like a very charming event and aided by such welcome easy weather and topped off too with a prize and sales! I am so pleased for your and naturally you’re thrilled – perfect.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I didn’t want to seem as if I were bragging but this sequence of events is once in a lifetime, I think, and it left me marveling at the happy serendipities of life.

        1. Claudia McGill Post author

          Thank you. I know that you know that in being and artist and selling your work, there are all sorts of ups and downs. I’m winding down my painting career with this show (not stopping painting but not focusing my efforts on making art to sell, two different things!) and though I am sure I will exhibit paintings again, never like in the past – so this happening really seemed to be giving me a good sendoff and closing a chapter in my life in a good way.

        2. agnesashe

          So pleased to read that you still intend to keep painting even if not selling. Somehow there is nearly always a change in your creative dynamic when ‘money’ muscles in, isn’t there? I can’t quite explain, but the other week when I realised a silk scarf had a fault and therefore wouldn’t be sellable, it kind of released me to simply paint for myself. It was a good, renewing experience as I hadn’t realised how ‘locked up’ I had become with my work. Anyway, wishing you huge enjoyment in simply painting.

        3. Claudia McGill Post author

          Thank you. And I think you expressed the subtle change the idea of money makes to art very well. Muscles in is right. I have enjoyed my art career and compared to many other artists on the circuit that I know, I was less aware of money when doing my work than most others, but it was always there. I think I am just now beginning to see the difference in my thinking now that I have firmly decided to “retire” or maybe it is “semi-retire”. I allow myself to consider options that I would not have, in the past. This is good. It’s time for me to move to another phase or…I’ll miss it. I am certainly conscious of time passing.

  2. Alanna

    Such a great story of reincarnation! Your painting really came alive after those changes. PS also on the way to commercial retirement…

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. I normally would have done more work to it (one day usually does not satisfy me) but it’s out of my hands now! I am happy about how the whole thing went. And I hope your “retirement” (I guess I am sort of thinking of it as semi-retired for me, because I’m seeing it is a transition, having been going on now for about a year with various milestones I pass and let go of ) is smooth and that your continued path is just as enjoyable with its different activities.

    1. Claudia McGill Post author

      Thank you. This was such a nice outcome for me and this painting! I am hoping this summer I can return to the show – it is one of my favorites.

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