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It was going so well up until judgment day. There were experiments and free play. There was a sense of joy in discovery, a feeling a pioneer or a scientist might have mixing unconventional techniques and ideas. And after a number of compliments I decided I'll put this piece into a juried museum call. In order to do that, I needed to finish it that day and all of a sudden I froze.

All these preemptive feelings of shame of rejection, the nervous anxiety of anticipation overtook my creative flow. I couldn't put down a single stroke without worrying that it'll ruin the piece.

How is it that some people are such natural salesmen? How is it that their stomachs don't churn at the thought of criticism and disapproval? Why does the life of an artist have to be so full of punishments?

Yes, I can tell myself time and again that this isn't about someone's appreciation of my work. But that's a lie. I want to be seen, I want the attention these pieces deserve. I want them bought, auctioned off, hanging in museums. I want to be earning money as an artist. Why even after so many years in the industry do I not get the formula? Is my art too shallow, too impersonal? Do people need to bleed from the inside in order for me to succeed? You take what's most precious to you, turn yourself inside out and only then do you get noticed? Or does it have to be completely void of any personal touch and be an abstract blob?

I'm just thrilled I had read a children's book to my students recently on the life of Henri Rousseau, on his yearly rejections and his ability to persevere. If only I could have the same strength and not take this whole process so close to heart...


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