artist’s way: week eight

Summer Passed, photo manipulation, 2011
Summer Passed • photo manipulation • Carly Swenson • 2011

I remember once in the second grade, sitting alone on the edge of this huge sandbox on the playground of my elementary school.  I don’t recall the events that had previous transpired, causing my little seven-year-old brain’s life-altering revelation.  What I do remember is the stark realization that if I simply expect the least-positive outcome from a situation, then I would never be disappointed.  If things went well, I would be pleasantly surprised, and that was nice. 

I feel it is relevant to mention, I had a lovely childhood—I really did.  Both sets of grandparents lived in my hometown and doted on my brother and me.  My parents are kind people who had (and still have) a loving marriage and financial stability.  They raised us to be kind responsible humans—therefore, I have no idea why such a young me was drawn to this sad ideology as an appropriate outlook for my life.  Regardless, this is a belief I’ve held to varying degrees well into adulthood.

This realistic yet pessimistic perspective was something I tended to keep to myself–but always just below the surface whenever expectations came into play. Despite bouts of depression throughout my adolescent and adult life, I’m a generally pleasant human (thank you, anti-depressants! Way to go keeping me less sad).  I laugh a lot.  I do my best to support the people I love.  I want to be kind and polite to strangers. I’m a compassionate human.  And growing up, I wasn’t a dark little rain cloud incessantly in the background, pessimistically criticizing the lives and opportunities of those around me.

Over the past four years or so, I’ve made a conscious effort to change this negative outlook.  The Artist’s Way has certainly been a positive continuation of this process.   Opening up to the good in the world, maintaining positive expectations, and attempting to remain hopeful is certainly beneficial to my well-being.  However, this does make rejections from exhibitions, galleries and publications sting a bit more.

Going out into the world, expecting the universe to help support my creative endeavors is a healthier mindset, but each rejection hurts more than it would have if I were expecting rejection in the first place. Then again–how can I expect artistic opportunities if I don’t have faith in myself?

In chapter eight, Cameron emphasizes the need to mourn these simple rejections.  As an adult, feeling upset or disappointed by these small, ordinary (and expected) rejections seems immature and futile.  (As 1 of 500 submissions for 25 exhibition openings—how can I be surprised or disappointed by not being selected?  The odds are obviously not in my favor.  I logistically understand that, and need to simply move on).

Cameron explains, these defeats and rejections (no matter how seemingly small) need to be acknowledged.  After this, an artist is able to move on, refocused—without the unaddressed sadness from the defeating lingering in one’s mind.

And…that is a solid point.

5 Replies to “artist’s way: week eight”

  1. I really like the delicacy and moodiness of this image with the poppy. I do envy your ability to use paint on your other pieces, however!


  2. Oh, I so feel everything you are saying in this beautifully written post. (I love the image, by the way.) Rejection is so hard. I have been rejected so many times by my own local art museum that I refused to even look at it when I drive by. And I’ve stopped trying to get in to juried shows for awhile because it is so heartbreaking. Keeping a positive outlook is, indeed, risky as you note. But, the alternative is even riskier, for we risk our creativity, which is driven by dreams and positive thoughts.


    1. That was well said–and our own creativity isn’t worth losing, no matter how hard rejection can be. You are right. Anyway, thank you for your input and thanks also for taking the time to read my post, I really appreciate it.


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