Rejection, not a fun topic. As an artist -strike that- as a person we must face rejection. I find there are layers to my experience of rejection. I can feel rejected as a person/friend/mom, etc…. Or I can feel the professional inferiority, WHO AM I TO CALL MYSELF AN ARTIST? I have had that internal fight that says, “does what I make matter?” Thankfully I don’t get to this low place as often as I once did. The more I risk and step out, the more I have a personal history of failures and successes to reference and gain perspective.
There have been seasons when I have done everything I can to avoid being rejected. I’ve played it safe with my art, made what I knew people already liked. I’ve tried to be who the people in my life wanted me to be. Eventually the person least happy was me. I felt trapped by my own perfectionism. Constantly worrying about approval, acceptance, and "not making the wrong move." Honestly there are times I still feel trapped, but as I step forward away from this mentality, I experience more and more freedom.
The emotions and thoughts that go with this trap are like a riptide in the ocean. I think I am swimming on course and then I look to shore and discover that I have been pulled away. The best way to return is to get out of the waves and walk back. Not what I like to do. Right now I am walking out of the riptide and the ocean waves. It has been wearing on me. I just got another email from a venue for ArtPrize and my work has been declined three times. Months ago I was turned down to be in an artist magazine…it is one of my dreams. I have submitted multiple times. This time I was hopeful, more hopeful than before, but I do accept that not every opportunity presented happens quickly.
Perseverance is critical in this life journey we are all on. I have grown in my ability to persevere as I wait for homecoming to happen.
I remember my high hopes and idealistic view when I was fresh out of college. I believed that the opportunities would build momentum and they did, but in a slower way than I had imagined. I completed five, 6 ft x 2 ft pieces (pictured below). I had an independent investor that was willing to take the risk and front the money I needed to build the canvases, gesso and paint them. This did lead somewhere…..... 2 years after I completed them. I am reminding myself that a GREAT idea or a GREAT beginning doesn’t necessarily mean that it will continue that way, and that the ending will look like what I originally envisioned.
IS IT STILL WORTH IT?
I would say “YES!”
I am refusing to be pulled by the tide of rejection. I returned back to to my studio and canvases! I had my lunch. I sat and had “a chat” with my piece….processing what it needed. Where should my brush go next? It is the discipline of “showing up” -even when I don’t feel inspired. I plug on. I follow the one idea and usually in the doing, I discover the next idea and I keep going. One idea at a time. This time I started with the American Flag. It was exciting….I could see the upper right corner coming alive, changing the feeling of the piece. I worked on the areas surrounding the top right combat flag and then moved to the bottom left home flag. There are times when you plan meaning and there are times when you stumble upon meaning. It happens without you really knowing. That is the case with the depiction of the American Flag in the bottom half. As my husband and I bring people out to see this in-progress work, people keep commenting about the “stars falling off the flag.” The emotion that it evokes is true. There are times when my soldier leaves and my clear vision for the greater mission wanes. I lose perspective. The stars start falling from their right place, but thankfully I have been able to move forward and regain perspective throughout the process. I think the same thing can happen when we are rejected in our lives. Through staying connected to those who remind me of my purpose, my soldier and other military wives, I can continue.
In my piece I started to depict the connection through little dotted lines. Connection takes perseverance and being intentional. The dots are sparse in the painting…still deciding if more is needed. I intentionally left the bottom left corner blank as it times feels like something is missing at home when my soldier is gone. I am at a place in my process where I believe the best way to move forward is to “sit on it.” What I mean by that is to work on other paintings as I give “The Weight of Time” space, in order to discover if I am finished? It is so important for me to step back from my work physically as I am painting and step back with time, as I wait for it to settle. It is that in-between: when I think I may be done but I'm just not quite sure.
As I step back physically from my canvases, I am also stepping back and waiting for more venues to review my submission and accept my piece. Only time will tell where this piece belongs. I am trusting God and the process to do it’s work. I have 5 potential places I am waiting on. I risk rejection by putting out heartfelt work. The closer it is to my heart, the seemingly more risky it feels.
Sometimes the NO’s that we receive make things clearer. Now that I am nearly done, we took the canvases and spread them out with the gaps we had planned to have when they were displayed. The initial gaps ended up being too big…. distorting the imagery too much. As we tweaked the spacing, we found the balance of depicting how time feels and still kept the integrity of the painting. I decreased all the gaps by 30 percent. This changes the overall space needed to display this work as well. It went from 25ft to 19ft in length. At this point we are still planning on photographing the canvases together and displaying that image next to the stretched out piece. Then the viewer can see how the separation distorts the images. Time and space make it hard to see clearly what the other person is experiencing, but as we stay connected in order to come back together, we gain perspective and clarity.