My First Fundraiser

Ojibway Island Through the Trees, 2018
11″ x 14″

Every year during the holiday season, a local art supply store called Art Coop holds a fundraiser for the Champaign County Humane Society. The Coop puts out a call for donated artworks, hangs them in a gallery, and, for the month of December, offers them for sale at $50 each, with the proceeds going to help the shelter animals.

A friend told me about the fundraiser a year ago, suggesting that I donate something and expressing her confidence that it would sell. I dropped the ball, of course, and missed the deadline, but this past year I was determined to participate. So I went through my catalog (if I can even call it that) and selected the above painting, reasoning that it was “good enough” to fetch $50 (I normally charge closer to $200 for a piece this size/type) but that it would be easy enough to replicate if I missed it (as I took the reference photos myself). I framed it up in a basic black frame and, with literal hours til the deadline, dropped it off at the Art Coop in a fairly anti-climactic exchange (they offered a coupon for 25% off a single purchase as a token of their appreciation; I of course failed to use it before it expired at the end of 2019).

Part of the benefit of the fundraiser was an opening night reception, which offered the chance to see your own art hanging with all the other donated pieces, and/or a chance to snap up the pieces you wanted to buy ASAP (though the gallery was open through the month of December for people to browse at their convenience). There were also snacks and wine. The reception ran during a two-hour window; Jake and I dropped by about half an hour in to check it out. I found my piece on the wall, delighted in seeing it hanging there like a legitimate piece of art, and took a picture. I also noticed that it, along with about 1/3 of the other pieces in the gallery, had a little red dot on the title card. “What does that mean?” I asked a friendly, chatty lady who’d greeted me upon entering the gallery.

“That means it’s sold! If you find [the gallery manager], he can tell you who bought it! They might still be here,” she said. Well, talk about a much-needed boost of confidence. We circled the rest of the room to see the other art, then found the manager who was able to introduce me to the buyer’s wife.

“We just bought a house,” she told me, “and we want to fill it with original art… we’ll take good care of it.” She also said that her husband had come to the opening first thing, and that my piece had been his favorite. I blabbed enthusiastically (and briefly, I hope) about the inspiration for the painting, and thanked her for chatting with me and for buying it.

There really is nothing like the feeling of someone wanting something you created, is there? At the time, I was working on a particularly difficult commission that I had to keep redoing part of (to the point that I was worried I was going to ruin the paper and have to start over completely), so this whole experience came at just the right time. (Plus I helped raise money for animals!) Sometimes I wonder if I should keep working at this whole art business or just give it up and find a “real” job to supplement the one I have, and then things like this happen, and it puts some fuel in the tank and keeps me going a little longer.

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