building doors

Cliché phrases rarely make an impact on me. I’m sure you know what I am referring to, the DIY rustic chic signs painted on refurbished barn wood on pinterest, or vibrently colored typography prints with clean lines and minimalist framing–
Live, Laugh, Love. Love more, worry less. Seize the day.  Dance like no one is watching. Live as if this day is your last. Big things often have small beginnings. Don’t just fly, soar. Shoot for the moon, even if you miss, you will be among the stars…

“Jazz is my favorite color of music” detail image from mixed media collage.

I assume you get the idea?  I could go on though. I could just google ‘motivational quotes’ and provide a whole land of words that should make you feel good, yet having impressively little emotional impact.

Life seldom works like a quaint phase, wrapped with a nice bow that can actually be applied accurately to people’s lives.  Over a year ago now, I was wandering about through etsy forums, when I stumbled across the phrase:

 If opportunity hasn’t knocked, build a door.

Normally, I would’ve shrugged that off, but for some reason–it struck a chord with me. I’m not sure if it was my mindset in the moment, or just my mood, or what exactly–but as stupidly simple as it was, it made sense. Anyone working to make a name for themselves in a creative field knows, it is difficult work. Work that you willingly pour your energy, time, and love into, only to hit wall after wall of rejection, apathy, and self-doubt. I’m often entering works into competitions and exhibitions with little result. However, disappointment and dismissal are part of being an artist.  A very unfun part. I’ve learned to not take rejection as hard, or personally. But it is still never easy.

Wealth without Work I, 24inx24in mixed media on canvas, 2010
Wealth without Work I, 24inx24in mixed media on canvas, 2010

I couldn’t get the concept out of my mind.  I started focusing on what else I could do to put my work into the world? What options had I missed?  What should I reconsider. How could I put myself in a position with more opportunities to be noticed?

I strongly believe in the quality of my work (not in a pretentious way, just logistically–I need to have faith in my own work if I want others to appreciate it). My imagery means a lot to me—my work feels like an extension of myself. I’m confident in my skills, yet seem to get stuck by the difficult task of how to get noticed by reputable people and venues.

I know I am merely one talented person in a world full of talented people (of which, I am not the most nor the least). I know I chose to pursue work in a career field that, by its very nature, is incredibly arbitrary. I have to take heart in the knowledge that other artists can achieve success-so it is possible.

In This World, 6inx6in, visual journal pages, 2011
In This World • 6in x 6in • Mixed media visual journal pages • Carly Swenson • 2011

If I keep producing work out of my love for creating art—if I am persistent in applying to galleries, exhibitions, competitions, and publications, eventually something good is bound to happen. And that is an optimism I have to keep.

Detail image • Mixed media collage on canvas

I’m now building my metaphorical doors.  Starting over a year ago, I set myself monthly goals.  Each month I send at least three submissions (Three is an accessible number, I don’t feel overwhelmed if I am busy with life. Yet, three submissions a month is enough to feel content about my efforts.) This is a simple goal, but I would recommend it to anyone looking for small ways to gain more notice of their work.

Because of this persistence in submitting work, I have, of course, faced a fair amount of rejection.  However, my determination has also resulted in my art and writing being featured in a couple of publications and five group exhibitions in the past year.  I know this isn’t ‘taking the art world by storm’, but none of this would have been possible if I hadn’t found the resolve to work past my fear of rejection and explore artistic opportunities.

Slowly but steadily I am gaining more publicity, getting works into exhibitions, selling more pieces, receiving more commissions.  Obviously, I’ve also started this fun little bloggity-blog.  All and all, I have to stay positive and value my family and friends who have faith in my work and me.

They mean the world to me.  Thanks to all of you who have taken the time to read my words, check out my work and support my artistic endeavors.  I’m endlessly grateful for you.

6 Replies to “building doors”

  1. well WE like your fun little bloggity blog and share it with others : ) lol so they can see for themselves if they like it too! keep up the good work! it is totally worth it!


    1. That is way too nice of you to say. Thank you so much. I am loving this blogging business. I think I have new addiction now. Thanks for supporting my work and taking the time to read my words, it means a lot to me.


      1. Thanks, Alice-face. That is so nice of you. I am still trying to sort out the blogroll thing. I can find it on my dashboard and I get how it works, I don’t get how to make it visible on my page.


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