Sunday, March 16, 2014

Slow Down Sunday Weekly Review: A Day In the Life of an Artist- Dealing with Disappointment

As I mentioned in this post last week, I will be running a new series each Sunday recapping my weekly activities in and out of the studio, giving you a glimpse behind the scenes, both the highs and the lows, of the life of an artist- well at least this artist- Crystal Neubauer. And I may expand this at some point to include tips and tutorials, resources etc. 
One thing I don't talk about here very often is my health, being thyroidless with multiple auto-immune issues, as well as healing from adrenal insufficiency, has made it vitally important that I adhere to a good routine when it comes to sleep. So all the walking I did in Seattle, and not getting home from the airport until 1 am Sunday morning, meant that Sunday and Monday were couch days, which was okay because I had plenty of work online to do.

  • Monday I launched my RocketHub campaign.
  • Tuesday I sent out an e-newsletter blast and got to work cleaning up in the studio.
  • Wednesday I spent some time shooting some photos for the book and then started working on a new body of work for the ACC show in April.
  • Thursday, nose to the grindstone, working on that body of work for the ACC show - having delivered most of my available work to the show in Seattle and my gallery in Scottsdale last month means I have a lot to create to get ready for this show.
  • Friday I shifted gears to cleaning the guest bedroom for an artist friend who will be visiting from Hawaii, who is traveling on a buddy pass which requires her to show up at the airport and wait for a flight to open up. Today will be her third day to attempt this and we are both feeling the disappointment of anticipating the visit each day only to have no seats available.

The issue of disappointment has been a hot topic lately.

One reason my career has advanced so quickly as an artist has been my willingness to take risks.  When I decided I wanted to teach, I set my sights on the national retreats - instead of waiting for more experience like common sense would have me do, I applied for the bigger venue and got in! When I decided I was ready for gallery representation, I didn't want to start at a coop or small local place, I knew I wanted to be at a fine art level, so I went for it and here I am with two beautiful galleries representing me.

I've written articles for magazines, and now am working on a book, by daring to believe the answer might be yes if I submitted a proposal. When I decided to do art shows I didn't want to start with the craft fairs. I didn't want to wait. My first ever booth type show was at the American Craft Expo in Evanston, IL - one of the top two fine art/craft shows in the entire nation.

I didn't have the right experience to bolster me, but what I did have was desire. White hot burning desire. And a conviction that I was supposed to be there.

And most importantly- a willingness to be disappointed.

The answer will never be yes if you can't deal with the possibility of hearing a no. 

I got in to the American Craft Expo the first year I applied. And it was an incredible experience. I gained more in that one show then I could have in several years of local shows. But after I've had to apply for 6 more shows at that level, over the course of two solid years before I got another yes- quick math fact - that is 3 times as many rejections!

Now there is a reality check thing that has to happen at some point, where you ask yourself if the rejections are an indication that your work isn't at the right level yet, but that is a post for another day. This one is about disappointment - and I have felt its sting. Two lovely galleries represent me, but at least 10 more have told me "no thank-you" or ignored my inquiry altogether. I've been paid to write articles for major mixed media magazines, but I've also submitted proposals that got turned away. I've entered tons of competitions that I didn't get into, I've applied to teach at venues that didn't accept me. At least 3 no's for every yes - every step of the way.

I'm no superwoman. Rejection is disappointing, and somewhat deflating. Even downright debilitating.

It takes the wind out of your sails. Self-doubts set in and the ever present "who do you think you are" voice whispers its accusations in your ears. But I refuse to listen! At least not for very long.

Because to do this job. To live this life. To answer to this call. Disappointment has to be addressed for the liar that it is.

It isn't rejection that defines you, it is your willingness to start again. Your willingness to stand on what you know in your heart to be true whether anyone else, circumstances, or the lying voices in your own head agree with you, understand you or not.

This week my disappointment has been in the finances of being an artist. The shows, whether the local level or the national, are not cheap to enter. And the set up requires a big investment up front. The car winds up breaking down and life throws a little action our way and suddenly there is nothing to spare. I wrestled with the decision as to whether to pull out - but it was such a huge deal for me to get in that I know I can't throw in the towel on this one quite yet. I've always been the kind of girl who looks at these situations and instead of saying "I can't" says "okay then, what can I do?"

And what I can do is offer up my art to you, and my workshops, and my book, and tickets, and my ability to mentor and ask you to consider supporting my campaign to raise the funds I need for my booth. The RocketHub system is a platform to help me organize this and gives me the ability to set a goal with an exchange of goods at extraordinary prices in order to meet that goal.

So here I am once again, taking a risk and facing the possibility of rejection and disappointment.
It is a day in the life of an artist.


  1. Whatever they say about your work, go on with it. It's beautiful!

    1. How kind of you- thank you for stopping by the blog today!

  2. What a great Post!
    Your determination and talent are a great combo. I'm reminded of author Madeline L'Engle, who was already An established writer when she wrote Wrinkle in Time... and received rejection slip after rejection slip for 10 years, till it was finally published!
    Love your RocketHub campaign!

    1. I read Madeline L'Engles book "Walking On Water" and that story about her book being rejected - something like 34 times- has been a real inspiration to me. Thanks so much for stopping by to read and leave your comment!

  3. A wonderfully inspiring post, Crystal! Everything you say here is so true, but sadly, many of us let self-doubt stop us in our tracks. I really admire you for what you've done.
    thanks for the encouraging post!

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read the post and leave such kind words Sharmon!

  4. I love your work and sense of design! I have taken a class with you, purchased your work, and now I love your writing! It touches my self doubt and inspires me. I am so enjoying this series! My favorite statement is "Disappointment has to be addressed for the liar that it is". How thought provoking is that! Count me in as one of your groupies!

    1. I think what you've just said is that you and I are inspired and drawn to the same things, and that makes us fellow travelers on this artistic journey! Thanks so much for stopping today!

  5. Hi Crystal -
    I'm a new follower and a Seattle-ite. I stopped in at your show at IMA Gallery last week. Totally loved it and have become a super fan of yours. I admire your tenacity in the art world. It is a shame that it is so hard - but in the end so worth it knowing that the art we create is out there in the world and making its way to where it brings great joy to others. Good luck with your upcoming event. I'm hoping you'll teach a class out this way soon.

    1. Marji I'm so happy to meet you - and thanks for stopping by the show at Gallery IMA. I was there for the opening reception and got to stay for 4 days in your lovely city. I would happily move there if I could! I do teach there - actually in Federal Way- at EncaustiCamp every year in July. It is a truly amazing event!
      Thanks so much for the encouraging words today and for stopping by the blog!

  6. Thank you Crystal for your honesty here. I think this post is a must read for all artists as it shows that we are have the same type of experiences and feelings which you have spoken about so directly.

    1. I think you are point on Seth. It doesn't matter if an artist has just begun his career path or has twenty years of experience, the risk of hearing a no still exists. Thanks for your thoughts today!