This is a difficult topic to think and write about. It seems somehow more personal than other subject matter, rather something better not spoken of lest one be deemed rejection-able.
The first time I experienced it after becoming a full time dedicated painter happened some thirty years ago. I was crushed. I had answered the doorbell to find the UPS man returning to me several large paintings I had consigned some months prior to a San Diego gallery. There was a letter asking me to send others in their place as they had had no luck with these. I was too distraught and discouraged by the reappearance of works I expected to be readily embraced by an adoring public (well, maybe not exactly expected, more like hoped) to respond by sending new paintings for consignment — big mistake. I felt that I could not possibly send any work anywhere ever again. Yes, it was an overreaction and at some level I was aware of that. So I called a friend, the fabulous Jane Hill, multi-talented actress, playwright and all around arts person, who immediately came to my doorstep. She spent a generous amount of time telling me about auditions and of picking oneself up and going for it again.
I learned. It doesn’t hurt less or nor is it less disheartening. But the restorative thoughts come quickly now: about how Ernest Hemingway papered the room he worked in with rejection slips, how Van Gogh sold nothing during his lifetime, how Mozart was dropped into a pauper’s grave and Schubert acquired his first piano not long before his early death. I’m in good company, I tell myself. I remember my successes and consider how they outweigh the disappointments. I think of all the paintings I have sold over the years and try to recall some of the pats on the back. I will not let the rebuff be a measure of the quality of the work I do nor instill self-doubt. I am my own harshest critic and that will suffice. The painter Elmer Bischoff said: “Success begins and ends in the studio”.
Has it gotten easy? No, it has not. But it has become one of the acceptable attributes of a life worth living.
The image above is Mini Triptych Han, acrylic & mixed media collage, 4.5 x 3" each, 2005. For information about any of the paintings seen on this site please email Joan.