I’m smack in the middle of my one big retail show, the Annual League of New Hampshire Craftsmen’s Fair. So I’m taking a break in my booth design series to write some shorter essays. Today I’ll get a chance to walk around the fair. I hope to again “pay attention” to which booths invite me in and which booths don’t.
I serve on the Fair Committee. Once a month, I drive up to League HQ and discuss various issues that have been brought to our attention. Contrary to popular opinion, we don’t lie awake nights trying to figure out new and astounding ways to annoy exhibitors and prevent artists from making a living. After all, every single member of the committee is an exhibiting artist at the fair, too. But some people feel that way, and as they vent and fume and yell their way through the Fair, I find myself feeling disheartened, abused and disconnected from my artist self.
Until my customers come in, that is. One brought me photos of the work she brought from me last year, proudly displayed on her mantelpiece with other, museum-quality pieces. Another brought his young son in to select one special piece from money he’d saved all year.
And most of my fellow craftspeople and the League administration have been kind, supportive, and yes, loving. I am surrounded by hugs and laughter and cheers.
Yesterday was especially difficult, and it was a little hard to get out of bed this morning. This was a good day to read Lynn Colwell’s essay in her e-newsletter “The Seed Within”. You can view Lynn’s entire essay at her website here:
Lynn writes about her struggles to create a beautiful garden. She fails miserably til she finds the right climate and the right place for each plant. Even then, she doesn’t quite master all the components necessary. But the seeds and plants come through on their own. Because the seed within will overcome all difficulties, given even the tiniest chance to survive.
Here are her words that give me the courage the get up and try again today:
“It’s no different with human beings. The seeds of greatness, beauty, empathy and love are locked inside from the moment of conception. It is up to each of us to be attentive, to find ways to nurture the best that is us and each other. We can make mistakes along the way, but that’s all right. That seed maintains its promise as long as we are here.”
As I read Lynn’s words, I realize that my art is that tiny chance for me. And for many other people. I have seen people change their lives because of something I said while talking about my art and what it means to me. In fact, someone came to my booth just as I was closing up last night to tell me that. She returned to painting after having me speak to her elementary school classes several years ago. She came by to thank me for giving her the courage to change her life.
I didn’t really, of course. Give her the courage, I mean. The courage was in her already. She just saw it for herself.
But I am proud to be a small part of that process, of bringing one more artist into the world.
So I will ignore the rocky people, the thorny people, the screamers, the complainers, the little tyrants who would gladly rip up any tiny little green thing they see.
I will remain true to my own artistic self. I will show what art has done for my own “seed within”. And by sharing that with others, perhaps a few other beautiful blooms will grow in this world that sorely needs a little more color, beauty, patience, kindness and love.