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:
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?