Monday 11 March 2013

Ups and Downs

Yesterday was an up and down kind of day. I had an electrician inspect my studio to assess why I'm having problems with the electrical system, and he presented me with a substantial quote for the cost of the work needed to sort things out. That was the down part. But on the upside, I received a call from the gallery director at the Federation of Canadian Artists with excellent news: my application for "signature status" had been successful! For those of you unfamiliar with what this means, let me explain...

In a nutshell, the Federation of Canadian Artists (FCA) was founded in 1941 by a group of Canadian artists including one of the nation's iconic painters, Group of Seven member Lawren Harris. It operates as a non-profit society and its mission is to advance the knowledge and appreciation of art and culture to all Canadians. As with any organization, it's had its own share of ups and downs over the decades but is generally recognized, particularly in western Canada, for the high standard of quality it has established and maintains for participating member artists.

There are several levels of membership in the FCA. Supporting Membership is open to anyone who appreciates art. Artists wishing to advance themselves within the FCA, can apply for Active Membership which involves having their work reviewed and, if found acceptable, they can then enter various exhibitions at the FCA's Federation Gallery in Vancouver, as well as those organized by the society's regional Chapters (I'm a member of the Fraser Valley Chapter). Successful admission into at least eight such exhibitions over four years qualifies an artist to then apply for the next level - that of Associate Signature Member. I've been a member of the FCA for several years now, moving from Supporting to Active status, and have been working towards the point of applying for Associate Signature Membership. This year, having met the exhibition requirements, I decided to throw my hat into the ring.

A jury of accredited FCA artists convenes annually to review the year's batch of applications to see who has not only met the qualifying number of exhibitions, but whose work, in general, meets the organization's standards and criteria. It's a nail-biting process as only some of the applicants get through, and facing the possibility of rejection can be a real challenge for an artist's fragile ego. However, I was more than pleased to be among the handful selected for the Associate level from the 40+ artists who put their names and work forward this year. I'm now qualified to place the initials AFCA after my name (hence the reason it's known as signature status) to indicate this achievement.

There's much discussion among artists as to the value of this designation. My thought is that in a profession where there are few rules, having one's work reviewed by a jury of successful professional artists and found worthy of their acceptance has got to be a good thing. It certainly feels good!

The application process involves submitting 10 digital images and, from among those 10, delivering three original pieces to the gallery for the jury to see in person. For me, making that selection was no easy task and it involved considerable humming and hawwing, aided by helpful input from a couple of artist colleagues. Here, in no particular order, are the images I submitted:

Solitary Steller's Jay (coloured pencil)
Quiet Reflection: Sandhill Crane (hand-painted silk)
Killdeer (hand-painted silk)

Oystercatchers (hand-painted silk)

Forest Carpenter: Pileated Woodpecker (hand-painted silk)

Omens of Change: Raven Among Fall Aspens (hand-painted silk)

Wren and Salmonberry (coloured pencil)

Song of the Tropics: Mockingbird (coloured pencil)
Green on Green: Palm Tanager (coloured pencil)
Urban Flock: Mallards (hand-painted silk)

From this selection, three will be on display at the Federation Gallery as part of the "Success!" exhibition, March 12-24, 2013 (Killdeer, Song of the Tropics, and Urban Flock).

When I learned of my success, I emailed the artists who had offered helpful input about my submission to give them the news and to thank them. One of the congratulatory responses I received included these sage words: "...take time to bask in your success and then get back to the studio!" And that's where I am this morning. After all, I've got an electrician to pay.

Such are the ups and downs of life as an artist.

For more information about the Federation of Canadian Artists, visit


  1. Congratulations! That is a wonderful achievement - while you slave away in your studio, I shall raise a glass to your success!

  2. I am so proud of you Debbie - congratulations and admiration; -K

  3. Awesome news, Deb - and do take time to bask in your success which is so well deserved! Love all your art, but especially your "silk" birds"....


  4. Deb ~ I can't think of a more deserving artist to receive this honour! Your accomplished work continues to amaze and delight. Karen