Resistance, Rejection, and Recovery…Phases of an Artist’s Life.

Sometimes the hardest thing to do is that thing we have to do.

Resistance…I call it the “R” word. It gets me in trouble more often than not. And, crazy as it may seem, it is usually my own resistance I find myself fighting against. I want to be one of those people, one of those artists who goes with the flow, are easy to be around, is always in the right mood at the right time and in the right place, always. While I know that not all of this is in my control, I often find myself trying to control it all!

Angel in the Wind, 40 x 40, mixed media on canvas.
Angel in the Wind, 40 x 40, mixed media on canvas.

I must say that I try to make sure that my spirit, body, and mind are in the best shape possible, but sometimes feelings overwhelm and I find myself in a slump. Often outside factors that are not in my control are to blame, but I think more often than not, it is my reaction to them that really takes its toll.

My art was recently considered for a major high end chain of galleries. The gallery director was ecstatic about my work, but the owner had to give his approval before my work could go up on those expensive walls in premiere tourist destinations throughout the US. I had an entire week to wait until the owner would be in the gallery to view the originals I had left. What would I do with myself in the meantime? This could be the break I had been working toward for over 25 years! I got into the studio during this intense time of inspiration, and created a huge painting to add to the collection. The gallery had been doing really well with Pop Art, so I focused on that, and at the same time payed homage to one of my favorite American illustrators, J.C. Leyendecker.

I sent an email out to my group of girlfriends that care for me deeply, so that they would help me recover from the rejection if that was the outcome. I know there would be no “resisting” that particular turn of events if it were to come.

Well, it did…it turned out that the owner loved my work, but the galleries were deciding to change directions and minimize their focus on Pop Art. Although the director had told me that this was a possibility, it didn’t change the fact that I wanted to curl up in a ball while hiding under a big fluffy comforter in the closet of a really dark room for…ever. But I had to go and pick up the paintings the next day with my head held up high…and show gratefulness to the director, who had really been a cheerleader for me. I did, and am still alive to tell about it. It wasn’t easy, but I did it.

Rejection…It was crazy, I recently lost a dear loved one, and I knew that the gallery decision was nothing compared to that, but the emotions sure felt similar. I felt as if I had lost a loved one, and that loved one was this wonderful opportunity set before me. I am no stranger to rejection. In fact, I have a “bite me” file from when I used to get letters in the mail before everything became digital. One of my favorites was from an art show promoter in California who asked me, “Why can’t you just be like everyone else?”! With each correspondence, the sting became a little greater, because in my mind, I kept on paying my dues and expecting things to turn around and get easier.

Recovery…Getting back to the basics, I must remember that I do not paint because I want to be in galleries and have recognition, it is the other way around! I love to paint and have dedicated most of my life to becoming the best artist I can be, and that is that.

Through an unforeseen chain of events, within the week, I ended up meeting a really great guy with a very cool gallery, and fantastic art (check it out–it’s awesome!) who offered me the opportunity to display my work in Denver, Colorado, which is one of the cities I had just been rejected from!

One of my girlfriends told me that no’s are just pathways for the greater yes’s. And that the good can often get in the way of the best. But I will be honest, I had to go through the grieving process yet again, and I don’t expect it to be the last time, but for now, I will enjoy the “Revelation” phase and get my booty back to my easel!

Have you had similar experiences? Leave a comment and let me know.


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About Shen

Shen loves making the flat surface come to life and adding color to a world often seen only in shades of gray.  A professional artist and entrepreneur for over 25 years, she lives to discover new techniques, mix media, and make difficult concepts simple!  You will often find her painting live at events of all kinds to "wow" her audience.  Her work has been collected by celebrities, corporations and galleries spanning the globe.  She is also an art instructor and keynote speaker, speaking to artists about how to market themselves in new, fun and creative ways.  Shen lives in Vail, Co with her husband and 3 beautiful daughters ages 15, 3 and 1.  More of Shen's work may be viewed on her website,

One thought on “Resistance, Rejection, and Recovery…Phases of an Artist’s Life.

  1. I have a craze of drawings. But since i did not take it as a profession i have always been rejected sadly. But i turned towards online art galleries to show my work to huge public. Un FOrtunatly my drawings were not considered to be great to shown on online galleries either i received a headling in form of suggestions, feedback especially from Artorca. I have not yet recovered from any thing.