By Melissa Whitaker

Posts tagged ‘artist’

The Art of Disappointment

“Disappointment”

Digital Media Illustration by Melissa Whitaker

Ahhhhhh.  Disappointment, the gum on the shoe of every artist.  Difficult to remove and a constant reminder of a step once taken.  It clings to your soul and gives you a feeling of inadequacy.  A nagging persistence that your art or even you are not good enough.  It is a struggle that everyone must deal with from time to time.  It has become a constant companion that is stuck to my shoe and I have learned to incorporate it into my walk.  Every now and then it gets a little sticky, but most of the time it’s just an imbalance that needs to be corrected.

The artistic way of life is really quite masochistic.  The muse inspires one to create, but the creation seldom measures up to what the mind has envisioned.  Leaving an artist feeling disappointed, discouraged, disillusioned, and dejected.  Then that artwork is put on display for all the world to judge.   If the piece is accepted the brain is flooded with endorphins that will give the artist a temporary high.  A high that is desperately sought after, to the point that rejection is the price that is willing to be paid in order to achieve a personal validation.

This week I received another email that will be added to the collection of rejection letters in my file cabinet.  (I keep thinking that someday I will make a collage of all of them). It felt like I had just stepped on a tarantula size wad of gum.  No matter how much I tried to shake it off,  it would not let loose.  This was not the same as entering a juried art show where the judging was based on your work and whether or not it would fit in with the rest of the show.  This felt personal.  A judgment of me and who I am.  No matter how many times I told myself, “It’s nothing personal.”  It stuck to my soul as a constant reminder that I was not worthy.  I would be happily preparing Thanksgiving dinner and then BAM!  it would remind me and I would start crying.  (The blessing was, I could blame the crying on cutting onions).  It took a few days and a few bottles of wine to accept the fact that it wasn’t personal.  It’s not that I wasn’t worthy, it’s simply that I wasn’t ready YET.

It is extremely tempting to give up and not submit oneself to rejection over and over again, but then there would never be that ultimate high of validation.  That wondrous ecstasy of achievement that I strive for.  If we let the disappointments fester an accumulate we become stuck and never move forward.  Disappointments can fool you and stretch to make you feel like you are moving forward, but they will inevitably pull you back to where you were.  I will scrape the gum from my shoe and leave a bit of the residue to harden, to remind me that life has its disappointments, it’s what we do with them that makes the difference.  The important thing is to keep moving forward, that is the only way to arrive at where you are going.

Now then, please excuse me while I go to the store to purchase a pack of gum.  I seem to have dropped mine.

Seeing Things Differently

“An optimist is a person who sees a green light everywhere. The pessimist sees only the red light. But the truly wise person is color blind.” ~ Albert Schweitzer

I LOVE color!! The deeper, the brighter, the more illuminating, the better. I try to view the world through rose colored glasses, but sometimes the glasses get a little foggy and the darkness creeps in. I know as I grow older the colors in my world may begin to fade and lose some of their luminosity, it is not something I look forward to.

I have been working with a client for several months now on a marketing campaign. I have done many illustrations for him and recently it came down to choosing the color palette. I see color everywhere and my artwork is often full of intense color, so creating a color palette was hitting my prime spot. This client lives several thousand miles away, so it’s not like they could sit beside me and point out color choices. I created several palettes that he could choose from and each time he would come back with, “What if we replaced this color with some other color?” He’s lucky I am an extremely patient person……………at times.

This client had mentioned before that he had some color blindness, but he always chose colors that worked together. He has an exceptional eye, but it soon became apparent that we were seeing colors differently. Today I discovered a website that allows you to view things through the eyes of color blindness. (Technology seriously makes my mind explode). Here is a link to the color blind simulator

I would say that the term color blindness is a misnomer, color vision deficiency may be a better term. Only a small percentage have true color blindness which is called Monochromacy or Achromatopsia.

I placed my artwork in the color blind simulator in order to have a better idea on what the client may be seeing and this is what it showed me:

I do not know which one is truly what he views, but it definitely explains a LOT and helps me to understand that color vision deficiency is not really a deficiency, it may even be more colorful. So the next time your significant other asks you if this shirt goes with these pants, just say, “Yes.”

The next time someone tells me they are color blind I’m responding with, “OH! How wonderful! You can show me a whole new way of looking at things.”

Speak No Evil, Draw No Evil

For the past few years I have felt that everything I was taught to believe in has been wadded up and thrown into the bin labeled “Lost to Posterity.”  While writing this post I sit here and think, “I hope I do not offend anyone.”  I have become overly cautious on my words and actions to the point that my only outlet has been through art.  Even some of my artwork has been tethered in the hopes of not offending.  It was the way I was taught.  Be considerate of others.  But when does being considerate of others become censorship of self?

I have been told to paint pretty landscapes, flowers and even chickens because that is what people want.  It’s safe and not offensive.  I’m sorry, but I don’t do landscapes.  I am a plant assassin, all I have to do is look at a plant and it will die.  And the only chicken I like is what’s on my plate.  If I were to paint or draw what others deem is worthy of commerce, it would be a censoring of myself.  Then I would be lost.

A few months ago I had the extreme pleasure of meeting one of my favorite artists, Pamela Frankel-Fiedler.  Her work is provocative, sensual, and captivating.  My conversation with her encouraged me to not be afraid of what others may think and being overly cautious is a restraint of self expression.

I paint and draw because, if I don’t, I feel like I am suffocating.  Art is the air I breathe.  It is my voice.

In the coming months, I will be exploring this self-expression and it may shock and it may offend, but to NOT explore it would be a suffocation of the spirit.  So buckle up Buttercup, we’re going for a ride!

Addressing the Fear

“It’s so fine and yet so terrible to stand in front of a blank canvas.” ~ Paul Cezanne

Fear is the one thing that can stop any progress from being made. Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of change. Fear of the unknown. As an artist I struggle with fear constantly, however fear is also what urges me on. I will sit and stare at a blank canvas, afraid of putting that first stroke of color on the pristine surface. What if I put it in the wrong spot? What if it comes out looking like crap? What if nobody likes it? What if people discover that I have no idea what I’m doing? Then I role my shoulders back, sit up straight, and say, “What if it frees my soul?”

Welcome to my fear.

We can sit and stare at the blank canvas in the hopes that inspiration will come.  We can leave the canvas sitting in the corner of the room waiting for the moment when it will come alive.  In the meantime, it’s only collecting dust.  Take this first blog for example.  I stare at the blank screen with the cursor blinking at me as if saying in Morse code, “w.r.i.t.e.m.e”  a constant nagging that raises the blood pressure.  Let me tell you, that cursor has been blinking at me for 3 weeks now.

I have found that facing my fear head on is the only way I know to conquer it.  Now fear and I may end up having a staring contest that lasts for weeks, but eventually fear will blink.  It always does.  The same principle applies to the blank canvas.  That painting is not going to magically paint itself, (although that would be pretty cool to watch).  At some point I have to put that first stroke on the canvas.  This may sound crazy, but I have found that if I just put a small dot of paint somewhere on the canvas then the fear of the stark, white canvas is minimized.  It will still nag at me, just like that blinking cursor, but the canvas is not nearly as pristine as it use to me and I have claimed it as my own with one simple stroke.Blank_Canvas

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