This past Sunday my family and I went to the Loveland Art Show. It’s always an enjoyable event with plenty of talented people and their gorgeous work, but this year marked a special occasion: S.Hooligan, my eight-year-old niece, had entered two pieces in their student art show in the category for five to eight year olds. S. has been drawing since she could hold a crayon, and she’s taken several art classes outside of regular school. She made the pieces she entered at one of the summer art day camps she attended.
To our pride and pleasure—and admitted relief—S.Hooligan won first place in her age category. Fortunately she was very gracious about winning, until we piled into the van to go home. Then she cried, “In your face, other kids!”
As pleased as S. was to win a blue ribbon for her artwork, she was equally excited about a drawing she bought at the student art show. Few pictures had price tags on them, but one ambitious little artist had sticky notes with $1 written on them attached to all her entries. S. was enchanted with drawing titled “The Happy Koala” and was determined to purchase it. I lent her the dollar (which I forgave later as an extra prize for her winning picture), and together we approached the women who were overseeing the student exhibit. The women were a little rattled; they didn’t even know anyone had put her artwork on sale and weren’t quite sure how to handle the procedure. We agreed by committee to give them the dollar in the artist’s name, and they stuck a “sold” note on the koala picture. S. would get her koala drawing when Diamondqueen returned later in the evening to pick up the entries.
“That’s just what every artist dreams of seeing,” said one of the women, “a ‘sold’ sign on a piece of their artwork.”
Naturally, I was extremely proud of S. winning a prize for her painting. I think I was even a little prouder of her wanting to purchase a drawing by one of her competitors. Her desire for the picture was genuine, and tonight it’s hanging right over her bed. I felt her supporting a fellow artist was an important behavior to reinforce. It’s something adult artists don’t always do. I’m thinking now of the literary arts and poetry especially. If every poet writing and seeking publication purchased one chapbook or one journal subscription, the popularity of poetry would soar. And a lot of deserving writers and editors would feel encouraged to continue to create.
I’d love to know what that young artist thought when she arrived and found out a total stranger had bought one of her drawings. I’m sure she would have treasured a ribbon, but I like to think her discovering that someone appreciated her work enough to buy it gave her a glow comparable to the one that lit S.Hooligan’s face when she saw her ribbon.
NUDGE: It’s your turn to support a fellow literary artist. Buy a poetry journal, a small press book, a self-published collection of essays. If financial support is beyond your means, lend support by reading and commenting on some blogs, searching out and reading some of the fine online literary journals, logging onto a writer’s forum and encouraging someone in their work. Writing is such a solitary pursuit, it’s easy to forget that there are others who want to be read as well. Find out what some of your fellow writers, bloggers, and poets are doing. Let them know someone is reading and appreciating their efforts.