If you are one of my close friends, you know that I am very competition with myself and my art. I am a painter. So when someone doesn’t ‘get’ my work, I can at times get frustrated. Not so much as I used to. The first rejection I ever got was from a student show. It had me so mad I couldn’t see straight. I was livid, but looking back on it now, it was hilarious to expect them to accept a ‘wet’ painting than I just finished, because I had procrastinated until the last two days. It was my first oil painting so that goes without saying, I had no idea what I was doing. It was a healthy thing to experience and to learn a little humility. After all, my family and friends had been telling me for years I was “GREAT!”. So why couldn’t the jury see it? The cold hard fact was that I was NOT VERY GOOD. We need to grow on encouragement from our friends and loved ones. My recent rejection was to an exhibition of work known for being so far away from what I do that if I did get accepted it would have been an anomaly all on it’s own. Like Han Solo said, “Never tell me the odds!”. Don’t let the odds keep you from entering your work if you want to. That word “want” is important. Submit if you think you want your work in an event. This was a local museum and I really loved one of their most popular recent exhibitions, so I thought, “Fuck it, let’s enter.”. I had no reservations that I would be an outlier if chosen, so when I didn’t get in, I laughed at myself. Rejection is good for growth. It is necessary, so relish it, laugh at it, and drown your frustrations with your favorite beverage. However, ask yourself, was it your best work? If it is at this current time, shake it off and move on. If deep in your heart you know it wasn’t, then begin to ask yourself what you need to do to get your art to that level. Easy said than done, but if you can honestly look inward to see your own deficits as a painter, then the journey to becoming a better painter is a little clearer. Competition is healthy, even in art. It helps push you beyond your comfort zone and boundaries. I know it has helped me grow as a painter tremendously, but I have to laugh off rejection and so should you. It’s ok to be a sore loser at times. Get mad, get upset. Yell and scream. Give the art establishment a big “FUCK YOU!”. Shake it out of your system and move on to becoming a better painter. Because you can’t make great work from loathing and regret. It’s toxic and it will eat at your soul.
As promised, I’m finally having a moment to write down the events related to my show for you to read. The Pavilion I gallery solo exhibition was my largest show to date and final tally was 80 paintings! And I was worried about hitting 40 when I first accepted, funny right? Setting up was a real roller coaster of emotions. First obstacle was finishing a couple of large paintings that I wanted to get in for the show. But the catch on the large one was I using a new paint that I was not familiar with. Even after a month of sitting on the easel, the damn paint wasn’t drying. Not even close! It felt as wet as the day I laid it on the canvas. Framing was also stressful, thanks to a snow storm and a cold freeze that prevented the snow and ice from melting away. That meant that FEDEX delayed my delivery by several days. After three days of framing and staying up late with only two or three hours of sleep. Finally I get done and load up 78 (which really turns out to be 79 because I forgot one) into the truck. Can you say stressed out? Here I am with a truck loaded up, going down the freeway praying I don’t get hit by another car! Spending most of the day loading and unloading my truck and placing paintings across 6 floors, I finally left to go home.
The next day I get a text from the gallery coordinator and she is asking if I have removed a painting. I text back “NOPE” and then called her. “Slave I” from the 31 day challenge last year was swiped right off the wall after it was hung an hour early! My immediate thoughts are that this has to be a StarWars Uber fan as the painting didn’t even have a title card posted yet! After a few minutes of thought I decided to post on FB. I mean, what the hell do I have to loose? Right?
What happens is an immediate avalanche of shares on FB to my amazement. Friends have even shared on StarWars fan sites and message boards. Thursday comes and I am in need of a painting to replace the stolen one. I’m still pissed about the stolen painting. Then an idea hits me as I’m talking to my friend Sam and that night after everything else is done, I begin painting Boba Fett. If you’re a fan of StarWars, you know that replacing a painting of Boba Fett’s "Slave I” with a painting of Boba Fett is significant. After all, Fett is a bounty hunter in the movies. Staying up till 4am to finish, I got to sign and titled the painting “Run & Hide Scum, I WILL FIND YOU!”. A clear message to the thief in the case he frequents the building. Next morning, I have to run and buy a frame for the new Fett painting. Then go attach labels to the work hanging at the gallery. Seventy-nine labels across six floors is a lot of work.
Somewhere in between that, I get a call from somebody who says their employee has my painting. He asked where I am and said that he will have the thief deliver the painting back to me. I told him that I was at the place where the painting was stolen at. He says good and the thief will be there in 20 minutes. Let me tell you it was a long 20 minutes! All I could think about was making sure I didn’t miss him walking in. Luckily the building superintendent showed up minutes before the thief did. As the culprit walked in, he tried to bolt for the elevators before I stopped him and told him to turn around. I pulled my camera out and shot photos of him directly holding my painting. There he was, standing with the stolen painting, the guy that had called caused me so much stress the past few days. I asked him why he stole it. I asked him why he didn’t contact me with the website address printed on the back. I told him if he wanted the paining so bad, I would’ve gladly worked out a payment plan for him so that he could own it. He just said that he was sorry and he made a mistake. He said he knew it was wrong the minute he stole it. I asked him “If you knew it was a mistake why didn’t you reach back out to me and tell me so?”. I told him I didn’t think he was that sorry because he waited until he was caught. I proceeded to chew him out and then demanded that he go upstairs and look at the replacement painting. As we were in the elevator I asked if he thought his parents would be ashamed if they knew what he had done. He replied, “Yes”. I asked him how old he was and he said, “23”. Then I asked him, “You do know this was a felony right?”. He looked down and sighed. We got to the floor and I made him walk up to the paining and look at it. There was Boba Fett hanging on the wall. I then told him to look at the title of the painting there on the small label and read the following “Run & Hide Scum, I WILL FIND YOU!” title. The thief‘s head dropped down. His face turned sour like someone who’s just been punk’d on TV. I told him I thought he would be back and painted this just for him in case he just happened by again. After some more of me chewing him out, I told him to leave and sort the rest of his day out. I would later learn that he was fired after returning to work. After finally getting all of my labels done and deciding to hang the returned stolen painting below the replacement, I headed home to shower and change for the show.
The evening came and managed to return back just in time for the exhibition to start. After everything was said and done the opening reception was a blast. I did my best to try and talk to everyone and manage sales of paintings. Best of all, was knowing I had made it through the week and I could relax for a day.
Sunday I remembered that I needed all new work for my next solo exhibition in mid March. I’m writing this now as I know it will be awhile before I surface and come back up for air to post another blog. Now back to the easel with my largest painting to date finished and drying with many more left to paint!