Monday, March 18, 2019 was, perhaps, one of the most significant days in my career as an artist. That morning, a representative from the Federation of Canadian Artists phoned to let me know that the Federation's Selection Committee had awarded me Associate Signature status. I was elated.
For 35 years, I have been an active member of the Federation, entering juried shows, taking workshops, and attending their plein air painting holidays. These not only helped me develop confidence as an artist but gave me great joy. During dark times of distress, art helped light the way.
However, I had long wished for AFCA status, and almost 10 years ago had submitted a portfolio but was turned down; it was too eclectic (although the senior artists who gave the critique liked the portraits because they each had a concept). So, over the years, while painting landscapes and birds, I have also been painting portraits that tell a story. About two years ago, in the midst of problems with my siblings because of my mother's dementia, I started a second submission but encountered technical problems with the new digital requirements and so gave up.
Then at the 2018 Burnaby Artists' Guild fall show, Roxsane, a sister artist, expressed surprise that I had not tried for or got my AFCA status. Her faith in the value of my work gave me confidence. Then followed Gaye Adams' article in Art Avenue, "Want to Apply for FCA Signature Status?" in which she wrote, "Feel the fear and do it anyway." Then I recalled the quotation "To succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure." So I decided to feel the fear.
It has been a long journey, but many people have helped me along the way, from the instructors at Emily Carr (especially Ken Wallace); the many instructors at the Federation of Canadian Artists; Ted Clarke, who took care of my photography and reformatted many of my digital images; my friends; other artists in the Burnaby Artists' Guild (especially Roxsane Tiernan); and above all, my husband, Ron Johnson, who has always had faith in me.
This validation has more than eased the pain of the past difficult three years, including a dismal winter. The burden of managing my mother's affairs has been made increasingly stressful by a vitriolic younger sibling, who has set herself against my mother's care home staff and administration, my mother's companions, and me. The stress of this situation has exacerbated my health problems, which now include two auto-immune disorders. However, being given AFCA status has lifted me out of the morass into which I was sinking. Now I feel renewed energy to keep going forward, to keep painting, and to embrace the joy that the world has to offer.