Monday, June 12, 2006


Hilly Fields, 2006, Oil on Panel, 9x12

I am not a particularly superstitious person although I do have my moments. I don't worry much about the traditional superstitious events like a hat on a bed will bring bad luck, a bird in the house is a sign of death or holding your breath when you pass a cemetery to prevent breathing in the spirit of someone who has just died. Actually, I wouldn't say that I totally don't believe those old superstitions, it's not like I run around trying to disprove them or anything. And I have to admit that we don't keep hats in the bedrooms and I don't talk my children out of holding their breath when we pass the cemetery. You know, just in case I am wrong.

I do have some tricks, though, that I feel are important to ward off bad things. I feel fairly certain that if I spend a certain time each day worrying just a little bit, about the various things that can befall me or my loved ones, they probably won't happen (I have tried this with world events but it doesn't work, unfortunately). All I know though, is that the things that never occurred to me would happen, are the things that have happened; my daughter falling out of a window and fracturing her skull, or me having a perforated ulcer and needing emergency surgery. I didn't consider that Doug might cut himself while changing the blades on the lawn mower and what happened? He cut his fingers while changing the blades on the lawn mower. You see?! The things I worry about daily never happen, car accidents, illness, falling off ladders, tripping on the stairs, falling on the ice. I always envision plane or train crashes whenever Doug travels on business, so they won't happen. I feel certain that if I let my guard down, one of us will be in intensive care. I suppose all of this makes me sound like I need a long vacation at a "facility" but hey, it's worked for me so far and I am sticking with it.

This all leads me to another area where I do truly believe in jinxing myself. I will not be discussing any further competitions here before I find out the results. I have been keeping track and whenever I mention that I am entering a contest and its potential prize I do not win anything, let alone get accepted. I have been testing this theory lately and it seems to hold up. The exception with this is that I can talk to Doug about it (but not too much), and that does not seem to affect the outcome. Anyway, I spoke about entering a juried show here and did not get in. I did NOT mention on the blog the fact that I recently entered a regional juried show, nor the fact that I thought I may have a good shot at winning a prize this year and guess what? I got in AND won a prize. Ok, so it was the Pete's Paint and Paper Prize (a local paint store, wall paint, before anyone gets too excited) and it was a check for $25, so not exactly an impressive line for my resume, but still. I have a few more competitions that I plan to enter but clearly my lips must now be sealed. I may have already said too much.

I also have come to realize that the more often I check with a gallery to see "how things are going" (code for "have any of my pieces sold?") especially during a show that I am in, the less I sell. I have tested this out a few times. When I ask, mid show, the answer is that "nothing has sold", or possibly "not since the opening." If I restrain myself for the rest of the show, when I pick up my work I am pleasantly surprised to find that many more pieces have sold. My sales have been the best in the exhibitions where I have had no contact with the gallery past the opening reception. The exception to this rule is if the gallery contacts me, then the jinx doesn't occur. There are many variables with superstitions and jinxes and if one is not careful, there may be a lot of spinning around three times counter clockwise in order to reverse your luck.

Now excuse me while I look for a pencil in the road, a spider spinning a web or a ladybug on my arm. And I may have to do some spinning as well, just in case I have bad luck based on speaking publicly about this. I'd hate to put a jinx on myself.


Jordan said...

Your art work is beautiful and you are very number of rituals, missteps, or premature conversations can jinx that.

Tracy Helgeson said...

Thanks, Jordan, you are very kind. However, I will have to be very careful now and watch to see if your words have upset my balance;-)

tlwest said...

LOL I think like you do!!!

Ed Maskevich said...

In the world of a person like myself, who has OCD, we take these things very seriously and I mean that seriously. My wife still doesn't fully understand that some of these odd rituals and compulsions that I have are for her benefit also, they keep the universe from imploding. Like you, the one time I don't do something, like worry about family, is exactly when something is going to happen. I don't try to figure it out anymore but just accept it. the only superstition I WILL NOT believe is that if I don't forward an email chain letter then I will lose out on a fortune.

Olga Norris said...

I guess we just don't like not being in control, but I'm with you on the not mentioning stuff. Being half Greek I have been known to hang up garlic to ward off the evil eye (I have had one in this studio since I took it over). But as for cemeteries: the upstairs back of our house looks over the village cemetery (gloriously full of wild flowers right now, and inhabited by passing deer, pheasants, ducks, and hunting cats), and I must be very full of spirits by now!

Karen Jacobs said...

I've long held these beliefs to be true and will pause at the top of stairs to imagine falling before going safely down. Regarding competitions and gallery dealings, I concur... best kept to yourself until there is something to celebrate. Saves so much backtracking and explaining. Use that energy to lean into the next project, not worry over the last one.

Anonymous said...

Though I often find myself knocking on wood I'm a bit the opposite.

I believe that, to a large degree, thought creates reality (the whole I think therefore I am perspective) so if I stop and picture myself falling down the stairs its more likely to happen. Though many experienced parents do concur with your statement that it's the things that you'd never think to worry about that actually happen!

I think there are times to share our goals and ambitions with others and times to keep them close to home.

Congrats. on your award. An award is an award in my book.

Lisa Call said...

Great post.

I'm not much for old superstitions (and had never heard of most of the ones you mention) but I'm with you on creating my own newer and better ones.

Although I don't worry about my kids getting hurt so much - my concerns tend to be about other things.