Carrie L. Lewis, Artist

Helping You Create Art You Can be Proud Of

Dealing with Disappointment

The last couple of weeks have seen some disappointments in the studio and in life in general.

The biggest one arrived Friday morning. A prestigious juried exhibit to which I hoped to be invited. I’ve been waiting for notification since submitting entries at the end of May. I’ve tried to maintain personal and professional balance by keeping busy, by pushing forward on new and existing projects, and not thinking about that show or the paintings I would do for it.

rejectionI try never to assume anything, but deep down inside, I was certain enough of being accepted into this show to begin putting together new paintings for the exhibit.

The email in Friday morning’s inbox made me catch my breath. This was it. Today was the day.

Then I saw two words in the opening paragraph and I knew that door had closed. We regret….

Dealing with Disappointment

Just for the record, this isn’t the first screening I didn’t pass. It may have been among the most important in my field of experience, but it wasn’t the first.

Nor will it be the last. As with most of us who paint for fun and profit, I have failed to make the cut more often than I’ve succeeded. That has less to do with my skill as an artist than with the number of excellent artists who also have hopes of a spot in prestigious shows.

Fact of life.

Still, it was a disappointment and it shaded my mental outlook for part of the day.

Dealing With Disappointment

For a little over an hour, I mulled over the disappointment. Allowed myself to be surprised by depth of the disappointment. Even to wonder what had made me think I fit into that show in the first place.

Then the Good LORD began drawing me back, grounding me again, bringing things back into proper focus.

I caught a glimpse of the current large portrait on the easel in the studio and of the compositional designs on a wall in another room. The large pastoral drawing that was to become the centerpiece of my entry and the small equine still life finished earlier this year. Big paintings. Ambitious paintings. Good paintings, if I’m honest with myself.

The current body of work in progress is among the best work I’ve ever done. I remember thinking as I worked through three separate drawings last week that a corner had been turned professionally. These drawings were the best in recent history.

What’s My Point?

My work is good. This morning’s rejection is not a rejection of my talent. It doesn’t mean I’m not a good artist.

It does mean my work didn’t have a place in that exhibit. Something or some combination of things wasn’t right and that door closed.

Door Knob Open DoorBut where one door closes, another opens. Maybe just a crack, but another door opens. All I have to do is take the time to look. Today, I didn’t have to look far.

The closing of this exhibit door opened the door a little wider for two others. I can set those designs and ideas aside for the time being and work toward other things.

I have one large portrait to finish and two small ones to start. Without at least three large exhibit pieces to paint, I can devote more toward these portraits.

And after sufficient thought, I realized that a door had cracked open earlier in the day with the notification of my first sale through Fine Art America. An event worth taking note of.

And, finally, there’s always next year.

The moral to this story is that you will encounter disappointment in some form. Don’t let it get personal and don’t let it get you down. Keep painting and keep looking forward.

And by all means keep trying.

The only sure way to fail is to stop trying.

What gets you going again after a disappointment?


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  1. Patricia Bos

    This was just what I needed today. I just finished a colored pencil portrait that I am not happy with but I did the best I could with a very bad photo. I think I need to just put it behind me and work on my next commission which is starting out nice. Your story was just what I needed. I just discovered your website and will be following you.

    • Patricia,

      Thank you for your comment. I’m so glad this post was helpful to you.

      There will always be those portraits that don’t quite measure up. I’m glad you were able to finish that one and are having better success with the next one. Keep up the good work!


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