The art business is one filled with highs and lows. Fortunately, the highs outweigh the lows and I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Most artists deal with quite a bit of rejection. There are so many talented artists out there and everyone has their own taste, including galleries. The subjectivity is what makes it hard to understand sometimes. One person loves it another person hates it. What’s an artist to do? I say just be yourself. Let the paintings find a home where they are welcomed. I compare it, in a way, to selling a house. Most people know what they like and don’t like and usually they know the house for them when they see it. You can’t take it personally when your house doesn’t sell, especially in a bad market.
Time is a helping factor in finding the humor in rejection or a negative. I thought I might tell you one of my somewhat humorous “low” moments and contrast it with a treasured “high” moment.
One year I had painted all winter in order to give a new gallery a large body of new and exciting work in the spring. My arm was shot from working long hours. The last canvas was barely dry. We drove hundreds of miles with the dogs in the car, paintings piled in the back and we finally arrived at the gallery. I unloaded the paintings, took them in the back room to the gallery owners and the woman without getting up from her seat took a quick glance and said to her husband “Log them in”. Their big dog’s tail was wagging and hitting my freshly varnished paintings with each wag. The dog seemed to enjoy them more than the gallery owner. That was it after all my hard work? How about a little pat on the back? Good work Bill! How about, “These should sell quickly”? Log them in! That’s it. I walked out crestfallen. We were putting our future into the hands of these gallery owners who didn’t seem to care about what they were selling. Were they just in it for the money?
Well we decided to change galleries after that. Again I painted all winter, we drove hundreds of miles, dogs in the car, paintings piled high in the back, arrived at the gallery, took the paintings into a new gallery and new owners. One owner got down on his knees, started examining one of my ship paintings as I waited apprehensively. I had flash backs to one year back and “Log them in”. He turned around, still on his knees and exclaims “Jesus Christ Bill you’re good! God damn it, how the hell did you get all that detail in!” The expletives were flying and my eyes started to water. It was the nicest thing any gallery owner had ever said to me. He was cussing like a sailor but it was music to my ears!!!!!!!
This is the painting that caused that welcomed reaction!
The contrast between gallery owners and their reactions to my work was glaring. I find it amusing now but only with time and some success can I find the humor in it. It is a good example of why artists should keep knocking on doors and never give up. This is but one of many somewhat humorous anecdotes from an art career fortunately filled with more ups than downs. I hope you find some humor and some hope in this personal tale of highs and lows.
I posted a quote on my Facebook page recently by Winston Churchill that I found to be topical and inspirational. I’d like to share it with you~
" Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts. Every day you may make progress. Every step may be fruitful. Yet there will stretch out before you an ever-lengthening, ever-ascending, ever-improving path. You know you will never get to the end of the journey. But this, so far from discouraging, only adds to the joy and glory of the climb."