Sunday, November 16, 2008

You Haven't Lived as an Artist...

I have this theory that you haven't lived as an artist until you have struggled with rejection - over and over again. Don't get me wrong it is wonderful to be validated, accepted, and have success in creativity (maybe because I am a GenXer) but there is something profound and inspiring about feeling pushed down, rejected and discouraged... and yes I said inspiring!
So many ground breaking artists struggled with their careers but went on creating anyway...Caravaggio's works were rejected and criticized by the church because of their subject-matter. Renoir was laughed at and rejected not only by the public but by his own fellow artists and continued to paint. During the beginning of Impressionism many of the Impressionists like Monet and Pisassaro struggled to find buyers for their works, and many of them lived hand-to-mouth!! Van Gogh only sold one painting during his short life, was tortured by his craft but went on learning and making art- And the list goes on and on and includes musicians, writers, poets and actors that have been rejected or challenged by their audience and their craft- it is the common factor in all of our experiences! I have recently had a handful of rejections (why else would I be blogging about this?!?!?) honestly- for every AMAZING opportunity that has come my way- I have had 10 rejections and struggles to get to that point. It takes a toll- it challenges your dreams, it makes you feel insecure, angry, it causes questioning and often breeds discouragement. I have spent the weekend thinking about some recent set backs, thinking about what it means to me to be an artist and why I have been traveling this path my whole life- reflecting on being a little girl, knowing that becoming an artist was what I wanted, deciding to pursue drawing and painting which meant years of difficult critiques by art teachers, rejections of proposals, bad feedback from gallery shows, craft and art fairs that produced little or no money and taking on a lifestyle where I would sacrifice "normal' job offers in the name of pursuing this strange dream. I am not typically the type of person to get too introspective, I don't fall into a dark place, I don't put on some dreamy or whimsical music and look inside fact it is just the opposite- First I cry (and the tears are usually angry ones!) I crank up some loud rebellious tunes, I get fired up, I break some of the rules I learned in college art classes-like forgetting about form and color theory, I draw on the experiences of all those artists through history that fought hard for their success, I remember that being creative means sometimes you fail- but at least it's in the name of passion. I then make a HUGE mess in my studio (that involves splattered paint of course) and I get back to basics - my heart tells me to make art and that is what I do- fearlessly. I remember that the reward of being true and faithful to being an artist is worth the moments of rejection.

For those out there that are pursuing a creative path, that struggle with artistic goals, that want it so bad they can taste it (the sour and the sweet)....don't ever give up, don't ever compromise your style or your process or your goals, always be you. In the words of my my most favorite artist- Bob Dylan - When you feel in your gut what you are and then dynamically pursue it - don't back down and don't give up - then you're going to mystify a lot of folks.


lk moonwood said...

I find this profoundly inspiring. Thank you for posting it.

Kelly said...

Thank you so much for your frank honesty. Not an easy thing to do, but you did it to inspire others (like myself) to not give up and keep pursuing their art dreams. It's tough. But I want it too.
Thank you Alisa, and by the way, your art is WONDERFUL, you'll get to where you want to be.
Happy holidays to you,


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