Apparently, my art is appalling. Interesting.

I think this morning I’ve finally made peace with what happened at the gallery. It’s taken me 5 days of processing and meeting myself where I am – even if that means I’m cranky as hell. Or hiding under my sheets. But I tried to meet it all with mindful awareness, and just let myself be wherever I needed to be.

This meant that most of the week, I felt crappy and pathetic. And embarrassed. And ashamed. (Shame is just one of those rotating themes in my life.)

I finally put my finger on why yesterday morning.

This wasn’t my first time being rejected. I’ve been rejected loads of times and I’m usually cool with it – maybe frustrated because “Ack, not again!” or “So much time and effort!” But not especially torn up about it.

I have to say though, this is the first time I’ve ever had somebody be outright appalled by my work. I mean, actually point and say “How could you even paint that?


It’s not like I’m painting dog feces, or something. They’re landscapes for heaven’s sakes. So yes, it hurt. It hurt to see someone wrinkling their nose in disgust about my work.

But it’s funny how once I acknowledged that ow, yes, that hurt, I immediately felt better. It is just one woman’s opinion after all. She’s just obviously not one of my Right People.

And do you wanna know something absolutely hilarious? Her major complaint was about the lack of color – in her words, the darkness, the grimness, the wintry-ness of it all.

Honest to god, I actually went out of my way to paint more colourful paintings. I made a conscious effort to try and be more colourful than usual. More colourful than this guy for example:


Conwy Castle, © Sarah Marie Lacy

Conwy Castle, © Sarah Marie Lacy - 16"x20" acrylic on canvas, SOLD


When I remembered this little tidbit, I realized that no matter how hard I try, my work is always going to come out as…well, me.

It’s going to be darker, a little more moody, a little more ominous even. Maybe a tiny bit sad, kind of poignant. Subtler, more muted. Certainly never bright and cheery. There will never be puppies frolicking with small children. It’ll probably be raining, or just finished raining, or windy, and cool, and it might be autumn, or the beginning of spring and perhaps even winter.

Those are the things that resonate with me. Those are the subjects and the moods and the atmospheres that call to me. I love sunny days as much as the next person, and lord knows I love skipping in the sunshine. But do I want to paint it? Not even close. It bores me to tears. I can’t get my teeth into it. Emotionally, I don’t give a crap about it.

This probably means that I’ve culled at least 75% of the population as my collectors. That number might even be closer to 90%. It means I’ve got a choice – I could change my art and paint more colourful subjects for a wider audience. Or I could just not care, and go back to doing what makes me happy and accept that I might have to make my money in different ways.

I’m actually pretty good with option B. I don’t want to change my art – it makes me happy. Maybe it’s selfish of me, but there are some people in the world who are going to love my work and who won’t want bright, cheery paintings. And when they come looking for art, they’ll find me.

And sure, some people will (apparently) be appalled by my work. And wrinkle their noses, and shake their heads and ask me how I could possibly paint what I paint.

But I don’t think I need the whole world to like my art anymore. I’ve officially encountered someone who thinks it’s horrible, and…I lived. I felt like shit for a week, true. But I lived, and I will continue to make the art that’s important to me.

And maybe every now and again, it’ll be important to someone else. Who knows what life will bring?

Current Bids

  1. says

    You continue to amaze me Sarah…your courage, self insight and willingness to grow represent that special thing that is you. Darkness is all about risk taking, stepping into the unknown of self awareness, your work expresses that and like you have said the Right people will see your journey, your courage.
    The courage represented in your work is also inspirational to others struggling with their own demons. Your willingness to share the richness of inner explorations represents an important spiritual gift as well as an artistic one.
    The journey is challenging to say the least and your openness serves as a beacon to guide others in their struggle.
    Our western culture has a fetish for what I call flat lining, for wanting only to experience the comfortable, the easy the sunny and non-insightful way of living. That flat line mindset is extremely threatened by inner-explorations, they don’t like darkness, and they definitely don’t want to acknowledge the cyclical ups and downs of life.
    Keep your light shining girl and continue your explorations we all need more adventurers like you.

  2. says

    Your Lake Windermer at Sunset prints that I have sit on my desk right next to my computer and make me feel happy. That’s right – happy.

    They’re beautiful, not just “pretty”. They have substance and grace and boy, are they colourful. They are a tranquil escape for me to glance at every time I want to shut my computer and walk away.

    Your art is awesome, certainly NOT apalling.

  3. says

    Hi Sarah, I just read your post and it truly boggles my mind that someone would feel that way about your paintings AND have the tactlessness to express it that way. I liked how you described your process of the feelings and thoughts it triggered in you. And I loved the conclusion you came to. Because you know what? She’s just not one of your people, like you said.

    Personally, I think your paintings have a beautiful stillness to them, which makes me heart feel like it can breathe and expand. Keep doing what you’re doing, girl! :)

  4. says

    I just came across your blog a few minutes ago and read the quick skinny on your week. My 2 cents:

    - EVERY painting has a story, even the dark ones (sometimes, ESPECIALLY the dark ones). In turn, we all have stories, both light and moody. I find it unfortunate that there are those who close off access to that side of themselves out of fear, shame, or embarrassment, because they could probably learn a lot from it. To echo others, stay true to who you are. Paint what you feel and how you see the world exactly as it is to you, not what others say is right or according to the “rules”. It is the best representation of who you are at that moment. This may evolve over time with experience and experiment, but look at it, instead, as documentation of your journey. Even people like Van Gogh started out with art that, compared to his famous works, would be likely considered inferior or incorrect by those who didn’t understand the self-evolution process.

    - If I were you, I’d be happy to continue seeing images the way you do through your eyes than the way that horrid woman at the gallery seems to see the entire world through hers. Her income comment got me fired up; that was immature and ignorant on so many levels.

  5. says

    Your work is amazing. And so full of life and energy and emotions.

    I feel something every single time I look at your paintings. It’s this deep, multi-layered experience that always kind of wows me.

    And there’s not a lot of art that does that for me.

    I’m glad you’re going to keep doing what you do. Because it really is awesome.

  6. says

    Steve, that was SO what I needed to hear. Knowing that you trust me to trust myself helps me actually trust myself. I want to print this out and tape it over my easel.
    Thank you.

  7. says

    Sarah, I’ve only just read the last few posts and feel for you.

    But you know what, you know exactly what this is and you know exactly what to take from it all and what to leave behind.

    Your insights continue to rock, so trust yourself. You’re awesome.

  8. says

    Stick to your guns. The paintings you submitted are far from colorless and full of light, even if it is not giant sunbeams of light. Just because they don’t look like Disneyland is no reason to think there is not a market for your work.

    Also, nose-wrinkling is very unprofessional.

    Your paintings are beautiful.

  9. says

    I like your dad’s saying.

    And yeah, I feel like I have so much more clarity around my work and what it means to me now. Which is always helpful.

  10. says

    Or, as my dad said, you have to paint what you want to paint because otherwise it won’t be any good.

    Figuring out how and where to sell your work is a separate issue from what you work is.

    And you now have more clarity about what it is, so you can communicate that to potential buyers.