Tag: criticism

poem: shut up

“SHUT UP!”
i can still see her face,
“NO ONE CARES!
YOU ARE A SHITTY ARTIST!
A FOOL IN YOUR SUFFERING!”

The words echo
in the empty room
and i realize:
i don’t care.

Even if they are true,
these brackish, foul waters
taste sweet to me.

They sustain my life.

They give me what i need
to move forward.

Indeed,
the realization
that i can no longer
live for this art alone
fills me with more passion –
more driving, whipping need
to get these words onto paper
and fortify my soul.

So say what you want.

It can’t hurt me more
than losing art.

21 april 2016

on issues of common sense and bravery

She told me this yesterday.

You have to understand your role in this.  You are too nice.  You let people get away with too much; even a nice person is trained to treat you badly because you let them get away with everything.

Sadly, she is not wrong, although there are a few good friends – herself included – who have managed to avoid being consumed by the dark side.

Still, her words keep echoing in my mind, keeping me up until much too late last night and randomly charging through my mind today.  Historically, i have had a problem with this.  Very few things in my life are worth fighting over: my friends, my animals, the welfare of a child, my ability to make art.  Otherwise, someone else’s urgent need often overcomes my lukewarm desires.  Moreover, i like being helpful to people when it doesn’t cause me undo pain and suffering.

chaoswithin_11x14When i do gently set limits, it often works.  However, when i am forced to emphatically put my foot down, or most often, just walk away from someone who has proved themselves to be a chronic asshole, they are shocked.  They see my stubbornness, anger or rejection as something unreasonable, because they might not have known that it existed until they broke my give-a-damn.  But, even people as mushy as me can feel their give-a-damn snap, like thin, fragile a bone, right in front of their heart.  Once this occurs, i will be cordial and polite, which some people do mistake for niceness, but by then it is too late.  The damage has been done, the transgression has gone far enough to make that person no longer worth time or energy spent figuring them out, and, invariably, the individual has done something to hurt me.

So there can be a limit.  i am not completely spineless, i am simply missing a few vertebrae which makes me unnaturally bendy.

However, her words keep echoing, in part because they are augmented by voices from the past.  When the evil dog came the house when i was four and bit everyone: “If the dog bites you, you have to kick him.  Otherwise, he’ll just keep biting you and it’s your fault.”  When i was being pounded on by another kid at school: “If you just kick him in the balls, he’ll lay off – otherwise it’s your fault that he’s still bullying you.”

Perhaps it is part of living in this world with a vagina, but i often feel like i am responsible for everything as it is (although John Callahan seemed to share the affliction.) One meditation i was given not too long ago and now frequently use is to watch the spiraling thoughts that try to convince me that i am the cause of all troubles, and see the lie in them.  It is a form of pride. i am taking on a massive influence in the cosmos that i don’t actually have – a lot of the reasons human beings act as we do are hidden, tucked inside our psyches, and have very little to do with what people do to us. We can react to someone from long ago, not the one sitting before us. I can remember being befuddled at a doctor who was yelling at me for being promiscuous (in the middle of a long, painful stretch of celibacy) before the nurse stopped him to remind him i wasn’t his sister, even if i looked like her.  You have red hair, i know loose women who have had red hair, therefore I WILL YELL AT YOU, YOU SHAMELESS HUSSY.

So were do we draw the line? How authoritarian do i have to be?  Kindness feels better within my heart; compassion comes easier from my hands.  Becoming angry comes at a high price for me, in energy and spirit, and i don’t want to pay it on a daily basis.  Therefore, how do i move forward wisely?   What does common sense tell me about people, both in specific and generally?  Certainly sometimes it is my fault, because i can be an asshole, just like everyone else on the planet.  So, when do i have to be brave and admit my fault, and when do i have to be strong and stand up to the bully, even though he is just bullying me?  How do i learn how to be courageous and also accept that i cannot utterly re-arrange the wiring of my brain to become some fierce hard-ass?

If i figure this balance out, i’ll let you know.  Until then, even if i’m being nice to you, remember i do have a give-a-damn, and it can break.  Moreover, so does everyone else you know.

 

 

 

rejection

bluewoman_largeI submitted my art to a new venue a little over a week ago and received a rejection in my inbox about twenty minutes ago.

At first there was a thrill, because I could tell it was from the venue from the email address and their subject heading was ambiguous.  However, by the end of the brief first paragraph, for reasons either personal or not (they refused to distinguish between artists they reject on the basis of their bad art and those they reject because their work doesn’t fit the flow of their collection), I had to reel the bare and tangled line of my hopes back in.

The automatic and profound insecurity that I am indeed a bad artist (and by extension a bad business woman and a useless human being) still washes over me, despite increased success and the contentment that ruled over my waking hours before checking my inbox.

Honestly, the “bad art” message can come at you from a thousand different angles if you let it. Indeed, I have written about it in other blogs. I know this is not a situation I suffer through alone.  Every artist I have met had someone disparage their art and suffered rejections.  Alas, realizing I am not alone in this does not always help. Learning to remain secure in myself and my skills in the face of rejection was harder than I can say, and is not an ability I have fully mastered.

If this email had come a year ago, I would be wallowing in it for days, not writing, not making art, simply berating myself for believing in the delusion of hope in the first place.

Thank God, my burdens are not as they once were.  Even as I still steep in the insecurity, my outer reaction could not be different.  I throw my energy into creating more avenues for hope and possibility. During the past twenty minutes, I have ordered more promotional materials for galleries and collectors, written this blog, jotted down some ideas of how to take better pictures and begun editing photos for another online venue where my submission was enthusiastically approved.

More importantly for the well-being of my heart, the painting sitting across the room from me on the easel, still caught in a woeful state of ugliness, calls out to me like a siren.  The artist in me needs to create art, even if it is just rescuing one piece from incompleteness.

Even if it is simply to prove to myself that no matter who rejects my art, this is still what I do.