by Lyn StClair
During my first night on the road to the recent Natureworks show in Tulsa, my sleep was interrupted by a series of art show nightmares. The only one I remember was of pulling out a painting of a black bear to discover I'd painted its feet in the wrong place. The bear was walking in profile across the canvas and somehow I'd painted the feet from the legs furthest away from the viewer in front of the feet on the near side. I woke in a panic…and was tempted to tear the truck apart to check. Fortunately, it slowly occurred to me that I had not brought a black bear painting at all.
Long ago when I was marketing my limited edition prints of dogs at dog shows, I would have dreams before my shows. Okay, "dreams" isn't the right word…they were nightmares.
They were startlingly real…occurring in the very place I was or would be. In those days, I would often sleep in my booth to protect my art (and to save money). The alarm would go off and something utterly bizarre would happen at the show…then I'd awake and, because the details were so real, have to convince myself that it was just a dream. Often there would be several different, equally real, dreams in a row…and they would all happen in exactly the show I was at.
One of these shows was in Detroit's Cobo Hall. It was a two-day show…I would arrive the day before, set up and sleep in the booth. One of the dreams I had sleeping on the floor of my ready to show booth before the first day was that I arrived late and was just starting to hang my work as the final classes (groups) were being judged at the end of the second day. I was desperately trying to hang my work while the other vendors were packing up.
Most dreams happened the night before a show…but sometimes the nightmares would begin months before a show. Some dreams were classic…like showing up without clothes or having all the customers and my fellow artists laugh mockingly at my work…others were just really weird.
Over the years, I began to notice a pattern…the more numerous and/or worse the dreams, the better the show sales would be. For the longest time, I never mentioned THAT part of it to anyone for fear of jinxing it.
Then, one night, while staying at my Dad's on the way from Vermont to the Phippen Show in Prescott, AZ…I had a series of dreams so hilarious that I had to share. There were several…but here are the two funniest:
In the first, I was trying to set up my booth in time to get much needed breakfast before the Quick Draw. To my horror, I started opening the plastic tubs that I used for small paintings…only to discover they were filled with Christmas ornaments. To make matters worse…worrying about the missing art made me late for breakfast and the other artists had eaten everything. Of course I woke in a panic that I would "bonk" during the Quick Draw for lack of food…until I remembered I wasn't at the show yet.
Only to fall asleep again and have the WEIRDEST ART SHOW NIGHTMARE EVER…
At the Phippen Show, they had a separate area where paintings entered in the competition were brought to be judged. I had brought my work over and discovered that they had added a horse competition to the jurying (real horses, not painted ones). Though, at this time, I had no horses in real life…in my dream, I had entered my horse and was waiting beside my painting while the horses were judged. While I stood there, someone came up and studied my painting then asked why I left it the way I did. I turned to see what they were talking about and was shocked to see that my painting was not finished! Devastated, I headed over to get my horse…but he wasn't there. When I inquired, I was told that because of my horse's size he'd been moved to the "pony" category. When I arrived at the pony section I was stunned to see that my horse really was much smaller than I remembered. One of my art heroes, Bill Anton (yes, the artist), was the judge for the art and horse (and pony) competitions. He was standing nearby, so I asked him if he thought I would look silly riding such a small horse. He started to answer…then about that time the pony started farting loudly, rhythmically and repeatedly. Bill said "Well, I think you have bigger problems than the size of that horse…" at which point I woke to find that the "farting" was actually Rob, my hubby-at-the-time, snoring in real life.
So, the next morning I told Rob and Dad about the dreams…and about my history with bad show dreams and what they seemed to mean. Since these were the most vivid and strangest dreams so far, I kinda wanted witnesses to see if they meant a good show.
At the actual Phippen Show, Bill Anton (who really was the judge) awarded first place in drawing to my pencil piece…of horses. The Quick draw went great and sales-wise, it ended up being by far, my best show ever at the time.
During the artist party, I was talking to Bill's wife and told her about the dream…she said "you have to tell Bill." He probably thought I was a bit off…but he still ended up inviting me and a couple of other artists, including G. Russell Case to his studio (I was the only girl). His studio was amazing, especially the hundreds of plein air studies stacked against the walls. The guys all asked Bill if he'd trade and he did! I was too shy to ask if he'd trade, though.
The next day I lamented to a collector friend, kicking myself for not being bold enough to ask Bill if he'd trade. A little while later she brought Bill over and he said "of course I'd trade with you!". He asked if there was a piece I had in mind. There was, one that I had been thinking about ever since I saw it….a little study of the Tetons from the Idaho side.
"My" gorgeous Bill Anton painting arrived shortly after the show with a nice note. It is one of the favorites in my collection...for many reasons.
Ironically…little did I know that within 18 months, I would be living on the Idaho side of the Tetons.
Oh yes…AND I got to trade with Russell Case (also a painting of my beloved West).
As to the nightmares on the way to Tulsa…it was my best Natureworks show so far.