I need to wait a week or two for this to dry and will add some finishing touches. Slowly I’ve been able to work into larger compositions and will keep working larger over time. I think I’m starting to get the hang of a few things, which is pretty darn exciting.
I became a little too obsessed with trying to get into shows-I think I needed time to evaluate why I do what I do. I waited, for the most part, until I was mostly finished and stopped caring about what other people think, and that process was really freeing. Because I stopped oppressing myself, I really loved working on this painting.
I want to show my work for sure. I want to be a part of the art community in Pittsburgh, and in many ways I am. For me, the temptation to seek acceptance is powerful. This month I received four rejection letters, and am waiting on my fifth. The tough reality is that the art world is competitive, and there is no way to completely understand what people are looking for.
I have been rejected from every show I applied for in the last year. I am learning to shift my priorities. I am learning to wait. I am learning how to process rejection and stop internalizing every letter I receive. I am learning how to manage my expectations. More importantly, I am honing in my skills, and have taken on the attitude that the NEXT painting will be better than the last. As far as I can tell, that is what keeps me sane in the face of rejection.
Undergrads, if I could offer any advice, it would be this: apply to as many shows outside of your institution as you can. I wish I had been more accustomed to rejection before I graduated. I wish I had applied for more shows that were out of my league. I wish I would have known I was out of my league to begin with. It would be less shocking. Do what you can to discover the real, competitive art world so that you can manage your expectations as you transition from student to working artist. Learn how to make work because you love it. This is by far is the hardest test: getting out there and working not because people care but because you care-I have never had my motivations so “put through the fire” as I have during this time in my life.