Sunday, April 7, 2013

My Heart and My Art

I hesitated to write this but it's about something that has taken up a good part of my week, so here it is. I have been waiting over the past week for an answer to something. I applied to be part of an online market. It's not important which one. What I wanted to talk about was my reaction.

First of all, the wait was hard. It's a case of only being contacted when the news is good. That made the wait even harder as I was hoping until the very last moment that maybe I was included and that the response had been delayed. But the answer at this point is definitely no.

And why does that hurt so much? I've been thinking a lot about it the past few days. Why does rejection of our art hurt? I think it's because it is part of us. Whatever we create includes a piece of ourselves. When our art is rejected, someone can say 'Don't take it personally' but it does feel personal.

I know the rational side. My art wasn't a good fit with this particular market. My art doesn't appeal to the curator. They were looking for a different style. That category was full. There are any number of ways I could explain it to myself in a reasonable way.

I know the emotional side. They don't like my work. They didn't pick me. They liked others' work better. My work wasn't good enough. I feel mad. I feel sad. Oh boy! We artists can be hard on ourselves.

I have a trick for when I am having trouble dealing with something. I imagine what I would say if it was one of my daughters having the same problem. It quickly provides perspective. In this case, I would say: "It's okay and understandable to feel a bit sad about the rejection but it is important to remember that it is only the opinion of one person. That needs to be weighed against all of the very positive things that have been happening for your work and the wonderful support it has from people all around the world. Maybe there is something you can learn from this and then you need to move forward."

Well then, that feels better. Doesn't it? Having one person say no doesn't take a thing away from all of the other positive achievements.

This is the photo that accompanied by very first blog post.
Being able to sell art online is wonderful but it's hard too. I remember the knots in my stomach when I made my first blog post. I remember when I put those first few things in my Etsy shop. Unless you are creating only for yourself, there is risk attached to sharing your work with the world. There will be people who like it and people who don't. When I mentioned to a friend that I sometimes wondered if the representational way I paint excludes me from some things, she said that for every style of art there is an audience. She is right. My sales have been increasing lately. I have had sales to places as far away as Greece, Australia and New Zealand. I have lovely customers and have made some wonderful online friends. My shop is being noticed by more people. I am creating new work on an ongoing basis. I am growing as an artist. I am being true to my heart. I am proud of what I produce. I am having fun.

The paintings at the top and bottom are of practice exercises from a course I am taking on botanical borders and hand lettering. Wonderfully therapeutic work to engage the brain while the heart is figuring things out. :)
If there are occasional tears, I think that it is just part of being fully engaged in my art. Have you ever noticed the materials that I list in the 'item details' under my Etsy listings? I list the paper, the ink or paint and then always add 'my heart'. Because it's true, my heart is there. The note that I send with each order confirmation says "Thank you so much for ordering from me! Knowing that you like my artwork puts a smile on my face. :)" If you saw me at my computer when I get a new order or receive a compliment on one of my paintings, you would know that is a fact. I do smile--both inside and out. 

38 comments:

  1. As a fellow watercolor artist with online venues I can totally relate to every word of this blog post. For every heartache there are 10 heart "lifts" so keep painting and keep smiling! Love your work!

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    1. Thank you, Carol. I will concentrate on the heart 'lifts' and appreciate your kind words very much. :)

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  2. Well, I think it´s just as relations - if you´re not close to a person it wouldn´t hurt that much if you had an argument or so on, but it does hurt with those close to you. Art - no matter how it´s performed - IS definately close to us, and then logic only comes so far, it still hurts a bit.

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    1. I think you are right. It's hard, maybe even impossible, to distance ourselves.

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  3. Oh Kathleen I can relate to what you feel too. Even though I do it for fun and because I like what I do, I'm always expecting to have nice feedback and complements, and get sad when I don't...Writing this and recognizing is hard as well! Perhaps we are closer to our inner child than to be adults when we make art and we need encouragement and recognition...
    I love your delicate representational work and I admire your love for detail.

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    1. Thank you, Maria, for your encouraging words and your sweet, kind spirit. I don't know if I equate my creativity with my inner child but it is certainly part of me. When I don't paint, I feel like part of me is missing. The love of detail is, I think, the way my brain is wired. I have always been that way from the youngest age so I guess it makes sense that my art reflects that too.

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  4. I have learned to paint what I love and to only share what I think is my best. The person who is meant to own each piece will eventually find it. I love the very kind words my Etsy buyers share with me. Like post before me, "we need encouragement and recognition".

    Your work is delicate and gorgeous! Your shop is filled with lovely beauty ....and having fun is the best perk!!

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    1. Thank you Carol for your kind words. I love what you say about "the person who is meant to own each piece will eventually find it". In this case, it was my whole shop of work that wasn't chosen, so I think that was why I found this to be so disappointing. But onward! And I agree: painting what you love and having fun is what it's all about!

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  5. Kathleen, just do what you love. You don't need anyone or anything else to validate what you do.

    I've learnt from many years of online interaction that this "faceless" entity takes up more mind time than it should. The real world always trumps cyber world issues, and you've more than proven yourself to be a well respected and collected artist in this real world.

    Just remember that a lot of the decision makers in cyber world contests are sitting in their pjs and slippers.....and stay that way the whole day!

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    1. You're a feisty friend and I love you for it, Cindy. You are right. I could have painted several paintings during the 'mind time' this whole thing took up. And here's a thought (just to extend that old public speaking trick): pjs and slippers or maybe even their underwear! :)

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  6. It's very easy to get disheartened when something like this happens but just remember that an increasing number of people are buying your work, and lots of people (like me!) visit your blog regularly because your work is beautiful!
    Stay positive!

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    1. I appreciate you being here, Janet. Thanks for the encouraging, kind words.

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  7. At least you are brave enough to put your art out there. Mine gets put on my blog which I selfishly write for myself. That there has been an audience since the beginning is gravy and I feel I've made some nice friends too. I have an Etsy shop with nothing in it. (Nothing is good enough.) I don't put my art for sale (if nobody wants it, I'd be devastated). In short, I'm a big chicken so I admire you and your heart!

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    1. Matisse said "Creativity takes courage" so even the act of painting is a brave one. Whether you decide to sell your work is a personal decision. Thank you for sharing your thoughts in such an honest way. It has helped me a lot to read all of these kind comments.

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  8. what a beautifully written post. Pouring your heart out isn't easy especially in such a public forum but you know you are surrounded by loving, caring friends who really think the world of you and your art. Spring has finally arrived here with warmer winds and gentle rains. Your garden will be an explosion of colour in no time. xo

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    1. Thank you, Margie. I've had tears in my eyes reading most of these comments--thankful for the wonderful people who come here and their beautiful support. It was a hard post to write but I'm glad did it. It helped me to process a lot of what I was feeling. I am so looking forward to my garden waking up more fully. It is a season filled with hope. xo

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  9. oh Kathleen, I agree with all the lovely ladies above, and they all said it better than me. I love your painting, you are so very gifted, and if this curator didn't accepted you for this market, that her own mistake ! You don't need the validation of one single person (as someone said it above already), be reassured that your art (and your lovely + sweet self) is (are) appreciated for their genuinity (er, is that a word ?) You are true to yourself, your art reflects this perfectly.
    As we say in French "Un de perdu, dix de retrouvés". I'm sure you'll have other, even better opportunities soon !
    Sending you all my love xoxo

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    1. Holding your beautiful words of encouragement to my heart, Sonia. Thank you so much! xo

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  10. Hi Kathleen,
    What a great post, and I am sure a tough one to write. Thank you for the honesty.
    I think they should teach us this in art school along with business skills: how to develop thick skin. Or what Georgia O'Keefe said: before she had a show she locked herself up with the paintings, decided how she felt about them, and did not let either positive or negative critisism from others affect her(not that I can ever do that, just saying...)In the end, your friend's advice is the most correct, there is an art market for all styles, you just have to find the people who will love your work. And you are doing this Kathleen, and it will only get better the more people know how well you do what you and only you can do. Big hugs-

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    1. What a great story about Georgia O'Keeffe, Annamaria. I started painting when I was 18 and in university, enrolled not in art but in English lit! No business skills taught there either. Thicker skin, a lobotomy...there are things that would make life easier but not necessarily better. :) I appreciate your friendship and support, Annamaria, and am inspired by your art and your ongoing honesty about it (as I've told you before).

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  11. Everything you said is SOOOOO very true...
    There's no question our art has a little bit of our hearts in it... and not taking it personally is not always possible. It IS personal, very! Fear and lack of confidence have kept my Etsy shop empty for about a year now!

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    1. I've really struck a chord, haven't I? It makes me glad that I wrote about this, Melody. I guess instead of wearing our hearts on our sleeves, we are putting our hearts in our art. The key is to keep painting, I think, whether you are selling or not. The times that I've stopped, everything felt worse.

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  12. Well that is a very sincere post Kathleen, from the heart. I think all artists crave some praise for what we do, we do pour our hearts into projects, and it can sometimes seem like other artists are getting all the acclaim from reading blogs etc, not always the truth! I am always trying to push myself, not always in the right direction, where my art is concerned. If you stay true to what you like and feel, there will be plenty of others out there who will like what you do, it takes time. Any rejection is a blow, I find it hard to take, but please bounce back and carry on, I would say that any artist just gets better as they go along. When I look back I can say that's true.
    Anyway, look at some of the great artists, I can hand on heart say that I don't like all so called great artists work, I don't get Picasso, I can appreciate some pieces 'Guernica' but if I had the money I wouldn't buy them, it makes me laugh when I hear that some art collector has been fooled into buying a fake of such artists, it just becomes an 'investment' not really appreciated and loved for what it is. I'm glad I've found you, your art and your blog, and don't forget your other roles too!! This is just one hat you wear. :)

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    1. That comparison element is there for sure, Julie. It's hard to resist doing it. We can learn from each other. That part is wonderful. But it's not helpful, if we feel bad by comparing ourselves. Just keeping at it is exactly the right thing to do. I'm happy with where I am today compared to where I was art-wise even two years ago. Maybe that made the rejection hard too? But I feel much better now. I will continue to stay true to "what I like and feel" (as you said)and keep evolving in a way that is right for me. What a bunch of beautiful friends I have here. Thank you for being one of them.

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  13. Oh and that course sounds superb, I would love to do that!

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    1. Here's the link of the artist who gives the course. Her name is Val Webb and she does a number of online and on-site courses. The course I'm taking has 10 classes. I've finished two and they have been excellent. She provides video links for each lesson and work sheets. Very happy so far. http://valwebb.com/

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    2. The one I am taking is 'Watercolor Lettering'.

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  14. You are so brave to put that out there! Your work is beautiful, and I'm sorry that you felt rejected and it wasn't the right fit. You nailed it on the head, that is exactly what it is! But I completely understand how hard it is to put your art out there. It IS a part of your heart, and when you put yourself out there, you're completely vulnerable. Kudos to you for trying, and I hope you find a good fit elsewhere. Their loss, your work is amazing!

    Fan and first time commenter :) I think...ha!

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    1. Thanks, Marissa, for your kind, supportive words. Very much appreciated!

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  15. Kathleen your work is beautiful and you are very brave for putting yourself out there. It does hurt to not get accepted. I've been there too,not for online, but please keep doing what you are doing. Someone told me once just keep painting,and it will come. Your work is lovely, keep painting, love and sending a hug.Diana

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    1. Thank you, Diana. It helps me to know that others go through this too. I appreciate your warm, supportive words. A hug back.

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  16. Chère Kathleen, merci pour ce sincère témoignage. Ça fait du bien de te lire. C'est bon de savoir qu'on est pas seule à vivre certaines émotions.

    Ton travail est rempli de délicatesse et de gaieté, très semblable à ce que je perçois de ta personnalité à travers tes commentaires et tes posts. Avec tes créations, tu rejoins et touches le coeur de plus en plus de personnes. Et c'est sans compter le succès de ton blog. Bravo! Bravo! : )

    Et, puisqu'il y a un bon côté à toute chose, je me dis que si nous, artistes, prenons les critiques et les refus vis-à-vis notre travail avec autant d'émotions, c'est parce que nous le faisons avec coeur, nous sommes des passionnés, ce qui à mon avis est une grande richesse. : )

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    1. Merci, Eva. Tes beaux mots m'ont fait pleurer! :) Je les tiens à mon coeur comme un bouquet de fleurs. Ça m'aide à savoir que je ne suis pas seule dans mes réactions émotives à propos de mes oeuvres. Je me compte chanceuse d'être entourée par les amies-artistes si inspirantes, autant par leurs beaux oeuvres que par leurs esprits doux. Merci encore.

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  17. Il ne faut pas se décourager parce que quelqu'un vous a dit que votre peinture n'était pas assez bonne pour faire partie de leur galerie ou business.
    Je crois qu'aujourd'hui, les galeries ou sites de vente en ligne ont le regard tourné vers le profit plutôt que vers le talent. On a l'impression que ceux qui jugent les artistes ne le font pas en fonction de la qualité du travail proposé mais de la notoriété, du style, de la modernité et surtout de ce qui se vend actuellement. Les peintres "classiques" n'intéressent pas les galeries.
    Votre peinture n'entre pas dans leur créneau ? cela n'est pas grave. Dites-vous, que beaucoup de personnes aiment ce que vous faites. Continuez à peindre comme vous le sentez, avec votre coeur et vos tripes.

    Merci de votre visite sur mon blog.

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    1. Merci, Hélène, de vos mots d'encouragement. Je pense que vous avez raison en ce que vous dîtes au sujet de galeries ou commerces en ligne. Souvent ils cherchent le style du moment plus qu'autre chose. J'aime beaucoup votre dernière phrase: "Continuez à peindre comme vous le sentez, avec votre coeur et vos tripes." Des bon conseils. Et j'adore votre blog et vos peintures.


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    2. A partial translation for those of you who do not read French. :) Hélène of Red Berry (a lovely blog and Etsy shop) encouraged me to "continue to paint what I feel in both my heart and gut". Good advice.

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  18. Dear Kathleen - don't you dare change a thing about your beautiful art. What attracted me to your blog in the first place was your gorgeous florals. I so love the flowers you paint and share. I have been hurt as well at times but my good friend once gave me some sound advice...you will find that not everyone is going to love your art but stay true to yourself. You just keep painting those lovely flowers my friend.

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    1. Your stern warning made me smile, Debbie! Thank you for your lovely support and friendship.

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Thanks so much for taking the time to visit my blog and to leave me a comment. I love reading them. -- Kathleen

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