Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Let’s Face it – Rejection Hurts

"Anhinga sunning himself"

I took three paintings down to the art gallery thinking I was going to make an easy exchange; replacing those that didn’t sell for fresh replacements. Wrong! The gallery has gained so many new artists that they are more critical and discerning than ever before.

I left one there, and took two home; the one deemed unfit for lack of a frame, and the other for the “wrong” frame. The remaining paintings (four plus one) will have another chance to sell in the coming month.

"Anhinga in Paradise" 16x20 watercolor
The hurting hole in the pit of my stomach driving home reminded me that no matter how many paintings or prints an artist may sell, the hurt of rejection never gets any easier. For that reason, I decided to repeat a blog I did last spring that some of you may have missed. I feel it’s worth repeating:

We all have our babies: those wonderful concepts we develop in our minds and create on paper or canvas to present to the world. But what happens when those adorable children land with a thud on the floor of reality?

(Photo from friend in Uganda)
Let’s face it. Criticism hurts. And critique? “A rose by any other name would hurt so deeply” (forgive the pun). Pride is a wall we use to protect ourselves. When negative comments bump up against that wall, our ego becomes bruised. Afterward, we lick our wounds and patch the crumbling brick and mortar making it higher, stronger and more impenetrable than before.

But even though they hurt, we must take a look at well-intended barbs and examine what was said and why:
  • Did the comment or critique come from someone I trust?
  • If their suggestions were applied, would it make my project better?
  • Were the comments meant to be hurtful or helpful?
Drawing on canvas

After weighing and evaluating each point of view, we are better prepared to make a decision. We can take the criticism at face value and try to incorporate it into our thought process, or we can ignore it and stubbornly go on our merry way; building our wall of resentment higher and stronger.

Learning from our mistakes is difficult. Rejection hurts; criticism stings. It requires swallowing our pride and forging ahead in spite of negative comments. If we allow the critique to offend us and dampen our spirits, we may become the loser by succumbing to self pity. We may allow ourselves to get discouraged and sabotage our own efforts to make our dreams a reality.

"in progress" acrylic
Personal vision is as unique as our fingerprints. No two people are alike. No one can see what is in our mind and heart. Perhaps the criticism of others arouses our own insecurity and lack of self confidence? If that’s the case, we need to rally our own inner cheering squad to remind us of what we wanted to achieve in the first place.

A grain of salt can irritate an open wound, but it may also inflame a new determination to clarify our goals. If nothing else, critique sharpens our focus and causes us to evaluate how we communicate our vision to others.

"Sunset on the Nile" 22 x 28 acrylic on canvas
Critique Carol’s vision on her online gallery @