Today’s topic is brought to you by Rejection & Fear, two of those sneaky bustards that rear it’s head in every artists life. Not what you thought when you saw that sexy blonde, right? Well, it’s true.
Most creatives I know, myself included, have a repertoire of their things, their icons, their repeat images that they have doodles, sketched, painted in every notebook, text book, daytime, receipt or scrap of paper they own. One of mine is faces, portraits, woman’s figures & fashion. They are random and prolific, adorning literally every corner and edge of all my sketchbooks. They rarely turn into anything, they are doodles, after all. But they are prevalent and go back, um, decades now. Why it hasn’t occurred to me earlier to bring some of these ladies-faces-figures to life, I’m not sure, but they’ve stayed within the confines of notebook pages. The few attempts I have made painting them have not translated the way I had intended. (Insert entire chapter, BOOK, on what you want to be on the canvas rarely shows up.) So what happened what this. I found an artist, one of a zillion I admire, but this one particular, that resonated with me. Our styles are different but there was something in the way he captured quirky feminine elegance that captivated me and alerted my internal This Is My Next Thing radar system. So I tried it. In private. No one watching. No class or workshop. Just me and my cat and NPR and what happened was pretty cool. She told me who she was. For real. I outlined this painting, knew it was a version of my fancy parlor series, but Blondie here, appeared in her zebra-leopard print-red skirt-white shirt glory, and might have even said, don’t forget my sunglasses. I have lunch with Anna Wintour at 1. (Okay, I made that last part up, but seriously, she spoke to me.)
Is this a new direction? Maybe. Maybe not. Is this painting how I wanted it to turn out? Nope. The big part in this is that I let myself do it. I picked a big canvas, a “good” one, the equivalent of writing in an italian journal, the one you’re “saving”. And then, just when I was about to high five the sky, the aforementioned rejection and fear, rang the doorbell. Avon calling. Turns out this piece is not quite right for the boutique I normally send my pieces to, they’re going to pass. Rejection!!!! Fear!!!! Fear of rejection!!!! Okay, I got that out of my system.
This is the deal. She’s not a fit for their store and that’s ok. If this was a manuscript I’d be sending it out to 20, 30, 100? publishers before any feedback, let alone a yes. There is something about producing something that is different or fragile or raw that makes us feel protective of that thing. But I can’t grow and produce more painted ladies if I stay stuck on validation or approval. I’d never paint or draw or write again if I was worried about it being good enough. Good enough compared to what? That’s my lesson for the week. It’s ok to put something out in the world and have it not accepted. Or not accepted the way you anticipated. This is a lesson that seems to mushroom up a few times a year so I’m not sure I’m done with this rascally rabbit but each time it shifts something in me that feels closer to ok.
p.s. She’s hanging on my entryway hall.
“Fur Collar” 22×28″