top of page

A resurrection story

So, here I am posting about learning, once again, how I came to accept the limits of my control and learning to be OK with it. It was a troubling and traumatizing time, but, yes, I am painting.

Here is the first painting I have done since returning to the studio

And here is the story that lead me to where I am and why I am writing about it.

I had a solo show, recently, in an alternative space in Wilmington that ran for three months. I installed my paintings in this beautiful space the third week in January and took it down the third week in April. I was thrilled to be able to show all ten of the 4 x 5’ canvases I have created since moving to Delaware in a space where you could actually look from one to the other and notice the conversation between them. I was also delighted to be having a solo show less than two years after relocating to Delaware.

Leaving my NJ community behind has been difficult; finding a community here is no easy task.

So I was all the more pleased at this opportunity.

I had three receptions (which was at least one too many), and at each there were a few people who truly engaged with the work, some of whom had never seen it before.

So there were positives.

And yet.

There had been no sales, not even any inquiries; the praise I had heard seemed distant and quiet.

I was sad. I was dispirited.

I practice meditation daily, as you know, a practice that allows me to see emotional states as temporary. I do not identify with the emotion; I do know that I “feel sad” is not the same as “I am sad.”

I know the importance of feeling all emotions and then releasing them—not allowing them to take over your mind.

I allowed myself to feel all those sad feelings of disappointment while I remained vigilant, refusing to allow myself to spiral too low. As the days turned into a week, I struggled. Waves of distress and feelings of humiliation washed over me. I could not paint. I could not even venture into the studio. I thought I would stop painting, stop trying. If no one cares about the work, why should I continue to create it? I could spend my time gardening, reading, swimming, watching tv, or sucking my thumb for that matter.

Some days I got mighty low.

Since then, I have “come across” a post from an artist of some renown ( Guggenheim recipient, who has sold paintings for nearly $300,000. who was in despair and threatening to stop painting (he is better now and dealing with his depression); he was discouraged by all the work needed to show and sell his work and he despaired over what he perceived to be lackluster response.

I gained permission—from his experience—to feel the way I was feeling.

An artist friend said, “Oh, this is the artist form of postpartum depression.”

I started to pull myself out of my dismal emotional state. I went back to the studio. I started to paint.

And then, I began to see so many readings and posts that reminded me of why I paint.

A woman that I follow on Instagram posted about how all artists experience a particular kind of loneliness, one that comes from a sense that we are not being seen or acknowledged. The artist’s hope, she said, is that the work they produce will resonate with an audience, will sell, will receive accolades or, even, prizes. This is not simply an ego in need of support (which is what many non-artists will say to me hoping to soothe my hurt: “Oh don’t let your ego get involved.”). No, artists work, my Instagram poster believes, to make a contribution to the world by sharing their work. When they don’t sell, their work is not “received,” it hurts.

Truly, the work I do is not only when I apply paint to canvas, or when I choose a paint color or place that shape or color next to the other. My work is part of my daily life, when I am paying attention, and reminding myself to be present to what is around me. The work goes on in my head and spirit every waking minute as I attempt to transcend the everyday tasks and move into the spiritual realm. I stay attuned to how beauty and spirit present themselves in my surroundings. I take it in, harnessing the energy around me, to “channel” the experience into my work.

There are those who know me well, who have spent time with me, who have witnessed how an experience we shared was synthesized and displayed onto a canvas; they recognize and remember the moment. You know who you are!

A painting is a byproduct of tuning into spirit and connectedness. I create because I am trying to give my viewers a chance to witness or experience some of the truth that I have internalized. When I paint I hope that I am channeling something that will benefit others. The knowledge displayed in painting is not rational and while the viewer is not conscious of the knowledge often they recognize something they “just know”. When that happens, there is that ” AHA!” moment. I have seen viewers moved by what they see and transported to another place again and again. They are not looking at the painting and saying “Doesn’t that shade of blue look gorgeous right there?” No, they are responding to a glimpse of the unseen world in which we all move.

You do not need art to experience this state but it certainly helps.

How my work is received is totally beyond my control. And yet there is this reality: I put in a lot of effort into getting my art work “out into the world” and then I reach the limit of what I can do. Reactions, responses, sales, that is in the domain I cannot control.

36 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All

Do not depend on the hope of results…you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to that you expect. As

bottom of page