I am successful in submitting a drawing to the local art centre's annual open submission exhibition, and find myself in a state of nervous anticipation regarding my attendance of the opening night, where I shall encounter the drawing in public for the first time, in the company of other artists, invited guests, and amongst other works.
The drawing is of a cloud formation entitled two clouds almost the same. It is now eight years old, made whilst living in very different circumstances, facts I did not disclose to the selection committee, and of the three entries that I submitted, was the only one to have been selected.
I am anxious as to how it will appear, and both dread, and look forward to seeing it. I had delivered it to the gallery in a portfolio, as it is as yet unframed, accompanied by two clips by which to suspend it, and a pair of white cotton gloves to be worn whilst handling it, together with an explanation of how I envisaged it to be hung. I need not have worried. The drawing hangs against the white wall, above an austere, darkly coloured abstract painting, and, as far as the somewhat crowded conditions allow, appears to have been hung sensitively enough.
Seeing it in the context of a group show is instructive. It looks succinct, conveys an air of stillness, reassures me that I am correct in judging it to be among my better drawings. I wish that I had been able to afford the expense of having it framed, which in my eyes would have conferred a sense of wholeness upon it, allowed it breathing space within the frame whilst quietly containing it, provided a critical distance from the viewer and the surrounding wall, finished it, so to speak. In conversation with another artist present, I find that he does not share my view, giving instead a refreshing and unexpected insight, although I remain unwilling to agree with him. We compare notes; I enquire about his painting, and we speak of the joy and pain in making art. I explain in brief terms my current inability to draw, confiding the age of the submitted drawing, and he offers me a solution, one which I had indeed thought of, written about, and almost determined to put into practise, a solution that I had employed once before in order to overcome a hiatus in my work, to wit, the drawing of clouds.
We move on, talk of other things, say our goodbyes, and I am left with a feeling of having had my previous intention endorsed, and, more importantly, with a sense of hope that I may be able to return to the drawing of cloud formations, my present fear of failure notwithstanding, secure in the knowledge that it is a fit subject for attention within the context of contemporary practices, even though I shall remain forever unable to produce works on a par with Constable's cloud studies, or Gerhard Richter's masterly paintings.