Artists are supposed to have a thick skin. A ton of rejection comes with this business. It’s just a part of it, and that’s cool. Not everyone will like my work or what I have to say. I’m finding that I would rather have collectors who have strong opinions and emotions about my work. I found this out through a recent encounter with my beloved “rejection.”
If you look back at my blog history, you’ll probably see that I created three pieces for a recent exhibit. At the opening reception, several of you asked about all three pieces and where they were in the gallery. There was only one showing, and many of you wanted to see the others.
Only one was accepted, the above, The Woman at the Well.
I’m thankful for discriminating gallery directors and museum curators. They are what give their exhibits integrity, credibility and convey the message they want to send out to the world. We need to be selective and discriminatory in our art.
But it still stunk.
My pride and ego were hurt for sure. Once I got past that and was able to dig a little deeper, I found what discouraged me the most was feeling misunderstood and that my reaction was to just say ‘ok’ and not defend my work.
I don’t want to be a defensive person in relationships. That doesn’t work. But I do want to be a defensive artist – about my work, why I do it and what it says.
Having a thick skin doesn’t necessarily come from having an “eff” you attitude, it can come from gratitude and humility. I’m grateful to be creating art. It comes out of me, my heart and soul. I make what I make because it’s simply a part of who I am. So, I must have confidence in the work I create. I’m grateful for those who appreciate my work, but I’m also fine with those who don’t.
I just don’t want to be shy or ashamed about defending my work to anyone.
So, here’s my defense: I chose pen and ink drawing for these pieces for the minimalist effect it allowed. I’d been studying comics and it’s history and was struck with the idea that a simpler drawing allowed more room for the viewer to put themselves in the subject’s place, thereby creating the possibility for the viewer to feel deeper emotion. The themes in my work are love, acceptance, hope and joy in the midst of everyday life, pain, and disappointment. My desire is for the viewer to feel loved and accepted as they view my work.
The night of the opening, through the course of the evening, a woman came to me in tears. She had just seen my piece and it moved her very deeply…she wanted to buy it.
My memory was a bit slow to recognize her…she was an old friend I hadn’t seen in about 15 years. She was also an artist who had shown me around her home art studio while her kids were still littles and I was still in art school. All these years later, she is now a well established and well recognized watercolor, plein-air artist. Over the years, I had often thought back to her…being a great mother and a successful artist CAN be done.
It means the world to me that my piece moved her so deeply and that she is now listed among my collectors.
Thank you, Terri.
Here are the two pieces that were not accepted for the show: