There are some pieces that are stories under stories, paintings under paintings and are the journey, not the destination. I offer you Exhibit A: “Grow”, 24×36″. This was inspired by an international illustration contest I was encouraged to enter. Encouraged because it was hosted by an art rep that specializes in small business illustrators, artists and out of the box painters like myself and has an excellent reputation in placing these artists with book deals, licensing gigs and all types of artistic opportunities that I would very much like to be knocking at my door. The theme was “Terrariums”. Any kind. Any style. Any theme. Take the word and run with it, baby! There are easily 5-10 versions underneath this painting as I got started, got turned around, discouraged, excited again, rinse repeat. I worked on it for weeks. I’d let it breathe, go back, work on a corner, paint over, re-read contest instructions and on it went, until the night before the deadline. Read between the lines: I really really really cared about this piece. And this is the vulnerable truthy part that makes this painting so sweet and raw for me. I thought I had a chance of placing in this contest. Maybe not the winner, okay, most likely not the winner, but based on other artists, genres, the history of artists this rep works with, it was a darn good fit for me and I had my cheerleader pom poms shaking pretty good in anticipation of making…oh, top 50? But that’s not what happened. I did not place. I got a rejection letter. It stung. But guess what, I’m in the rejection business! If you write, paint, do anything creative for a living and put it out to the world for purchase or feedback….you will, I will, get rejected. Not gonna lie. This particular rejection hurt. Fellow contestants, previous winners and the artistic community involved with this agency are my peeps, my peers and I felt mighty exposed going out on this limb to have my fruit fall hard on the ground. Splat. I licked my wounds. I did retreat. The following weeks and months after The Rejection (I capitalize it now, melodrama is part of the artistic temperament) I stopped painting. Not flat out hand across the forehead I’ll-never-paint-again-declaration. Just busy. Busy and bored and defeated and lazy and uninspired and any other excuse to not do the thing that I need to do. I have a part-time job, I run a greeting card business, I have life responsibilities, painting seemed frivolous, time consuming and a luxury. I looked at “Grow” daily. It hung in my entryway, a reminder to not give up but somehow also haunted me. Days later, packing for a trip to San Francisco, I loaded up my car with paintings for ElizabethW in Carmel that sells my paintings and although this big piece was not an ideal fit for them, I packed it anyway, hoping they would consider it.
And then the universe decided to throw me a softball. On one of my San Francisco visits, a dear old friend-employer-soulmate-art collector was flipping through my deck of new cards and stopped at “Grow” and said, I love that. What happened to it? Did you sell it? Where did it end up? And wouldn’t you know. That one painting of all the paintings of all the cards in all my…well, you get it, just happened to be in the trunk of my car. In his parking lot. For him to purchase. Because he wanted to buy it. Because he loved it. That minute. And that’s why I keep doing what I’m doing. Because once in a while the rejections turn into acceptance and doors that shut can swing open the opposite direction. Just when you least expect it. xo
“Grow” 24×36″ SOLD