Sunday, January 6, 2019

Confidence, Persistence and Rejection

"Winter Walk"
    Being a self taught watercolorist, I've had my nose buried in plenty of books and magazines, my eyes surfing pictures of pictures and videos of watercolor creations, the likes of which I thought were untouchable, made by the earlier generation of artists - my mentors, you might say. A little bit along the way I started reading articles on legal issues, getting into galleries, making portfolios and the rest of the gamut. Occasionally I see articles or blogs on the subject of "rejection". Most of us have had at least a little of that in life - job seeking, relationships, high school cliques, etc. The writers of these articles always seem to approach it with a bit of tone of Sympathy.

    While I won't venture to write a book about it here (although I could), I'm no stranger to it and have found in life that if I wanted to pursue a goal or a even simple activity, I had had to do it myself without company or so much as a blessing in many cases. I refused let someone's lack of agreement and camaraderie control or dampen my goals, activities and pleasures.

    There's a word I believe has fallen out of use today: "Effective". We have a world glutted with pretty and fancy, but rather "user-UNfriendly" products.  With lots of bells and whistles, fewer people are thinking in terms of simple effectiveness. And nowadays, pleasantness presides while being effective and "getting it done" is heavily measured by how few people were "offended" in the process. Getting the product takes persistence and guts.

    Well, this applies to art, too. It takes guts to show your paintings around, especially when you're fairly new at it. Dealing with criticism and the world's indifference requires undying, burning embers in your heart. This is where that "thick skin" becomes needed and handy if you are going to pursue art as more than a hobby. I personally recommend throwing in a dash of defiance! If you've been sharpening your skills  - learning, practicing, observing, over and over - you're probably already your own most severe critic! (But don't forget to be your own best audience as well!)

    People go around saying, "Be confident!". Oh, yeah? Confidence, to me, is a byproduct or result of wins and successes. Until you get enough of these under your belt, no matter how they come, you'll need your stubborn persistence to lead the way. Talent alone is not enough.

    Rejection? Pffft! Even the best artists get it. I get local awards with relative ease, yet I got turned down when applying for signature status directly in a couple groups. I achieved it anyway in one club due to being accepted into 3 shows - 2 with awards from an outside judge! (Clique mentality? Maybe) I even have a place where I collect rejection notices! It's a game, a numbers game. The more I get, the closer I am - given that my quality is improving!
"The Whispering Wood"

    So, with persistence in hand, you now need to increase your skill. These will increase your successes. And who can deny that more skill equals more success? Be good - so good your work can't help but be accepted. It may not be 100% of the time for reasons out of your control, but you'll come to realize as you progress that it wasn't because of your skill. You know now that your work is usually pretty damned good, outside of "low periods". You've become "undeniably good".  And that's my solution to the question of rejection: 

"Be undeniably good".